Four Zones of Mobile Success (or failure): Part 4, Device User

 

This is the final installment in my four-part series discussing four zones of Mobile Success.  The first post discussed the enterprise zone: the enterprise back end, including mail servers, messaging solution and directory services. The second zone is the enterprise security zone consisting of firewalls, VPN’s and reverse proxy. The third zone I covered was the Internet. All of these function as points of success or failure in mobility.

The final zone is the device user zone, which is probably the zone most prone to failures. The zone consists of the user, device, applications and the local wireless carrier. For many reasons, new devices, replacement devices, provisioning, re-provisioning with the carrier messaging system and enterprise often result in a issue and call to the help-desk. The vast majority of interactions occur in this zone, and the more interactions there are, the more opportunity for errors.

From part three of the series, the Internet Zone; data travels the course of the wireless carrier’s wire, fiber, switches and routers until it reaches a wireless tower associated with a device. Then the tower transmits the data to the device. Because a mobile device is an “always on” device, the associated tower can change and must be maintained throughout the day as you travel to different locations.

In short, the meeting notice I mentioned in part 3 leaves the enterprise and finds the first wired network on-ramp to  a devices carrier, traverses their network to the tower near the device and then wirelessly sends the meeting notice to the device.

How does all this magic happen?  When the phone or tablet is turned on, it looks for a tower to associate with.  Once that happens the carrier notes that user Juanita Doe’s device can communicate through tower XYZ, regardless of where a message traffic originates.

As for points of failure, any of the following could apply at the device level:

  • Failing device hardware
  • Battery that’s low or spent
  • Device out of coverage, weak or no signal
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the carrier
  • First time use or replacement, not provisioned or properly provisioned with the enterprise
  • Encryption or decryption failures, expired keys
  • Incorrect password
  • Corrupt application service books, policies or certificates on the device
  • Incompatible OS level

Below we have the complete picture of the basic mobile enterprise network again. As demonstrated by the discussion in this series, so much technology has to go right for the basics of wireless and mobile applications to work. It takes even more for an enterprise wireless strategy to be effective and successful. For a strategy to be effective it must include mobile management processes, such as procedures and tools including predictive analytics to detect problems, alert the enterprise administrators and help isolate any issues or failures in the enterprise mobile ecosystem.

As mentioned in Part 1 of the series, As an Architect in Mobility for over 17 years now, I have found this diagram and discussion to be extremely valuable tools.

I believe the 1st incarnation of this was in 2003 when an IBM colleague (Scott Symes) and I had the blackeye’s as we experienced the effects of issues in different zones.  It was BlackBerry at the time, hence we gave it the nickname of “BlackBerry Blackeye” chart.  But, as other technologies have come to market, the essentials are still true today regardless of device manufacturer, operating system or application.  The diagram has been updated and expanded reflect some of these changes as Android, IOS Devices, Messaging, Monitoring and MDM/EMM (Airwatch, IBM/Fiberlink, BlackBerry/Good, MobileIron, Tangoe, Zenprise, etc.) have come along. Others have disappeared or been consolidated.  However, the fundamental issues and the concepts remain constant.  There are many points of success and failure in a Mobile enterprise infrastructure.

A well designed, planned and implemented strategies, infrastructures and applications will prevent  lost sales due to abandoned carts, increase customer loyalty and repeat use.  Will increase employee productivity and prevent  lost investment in the failure of application adoption

In the simplest of terms, success equals good high quality uninterrupted service.  Applications that consider the diverse screen real estate and user interaction. Unresponsiveness due to back-end servers, load balancing or firewall issues, internet network congestion will be seen as the fault of and blamed on the application.

Mobile success, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or in this case the user.  Therefore, the success of a mobile enterprise infrastructure and whether or not you get a “black-eye” depends on how well these points of failure are understood and managed.

It’s my hope this series, revised from original publication at IBM Mobile Insights, has been and will be helpful to you.  Please leave comments below or contact me on  LinkedIn.

Telecomm Expense Management, Riddle me this, When is TEM not TEM?

When it’s MDM or EMM.

Several mobile device management (MDM/EMM) products have a feature that is suggestive of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) but is still far from being a significant or complete  telecom expense saving solution. MDM/EMM product features offer an limited opportunity to reduce a few specific types of mobile expenses such as “roaming” charges and unused/under used devices  While these features focus on a subset of devices they do have value. However, these features  should not be confused with a true telecom expense management system that offers a broad range of significant saving opportunities across all devices.

I don’t intend to detract the value of the isolated and limited expense features of MDM/EMM solutions, but I want to put them in the proper context of a mobile telecom expense management perspective.  In this post, I will explain the savings features of an MDM/EMM, how they differ from a TEM and why an effective TEM generates larger savings.  …

How do MDM/EMM and TEM Differ?
To start with Expense is TEM’s middle name. MDM/EMM manages devices and TEM manages expenses.

How do MDM/EMM features help manage telecom spending?
The most popular MDM/EMM expense feature is “roaming notification” or alerts.

Roaming is when you are using your wireless device in an area not covered by your home carrier but that of a “local” carrier. In agreement with your home carrier, signal coverage is provided by a local carrier at a premium cost, allowing you to continue using your device as if nothing has happened. In the Past, you’d typically, get the next  month’s bill  with some surprisingly huge charges from the network providers on which you roamed. Very little can be done after the fact to get those charges reduced.

Fortunately, today US carriers as well as other countries and regions have agreements within local boundaries, and users won’t have such surprise additional fees and is less of a concern.

Unless they travel Internationally!  With International travel, all bets are off. You exit the plane, turn on your phone and it get picked up by a foreign carrier. Before you know it, you’ve agreed to pay astronomical roaming charges. It is not unusual for a typical $100 monthly bill to become a few thousand dollars. Regular travelers can simply pay modest extra amount for an international calling plan and get a reasonable monthly rate (but much higher than a standard rate).  Depending on the carrier, sometimes you can get an international rate just for the month potentially saving thousands.

MDM/EMM’s can detect that an individual is roaming off the home network and generates a user alert so the individual can choose to continue or not. The MDM/EMM solution may also send an an alert to administrators, which may be able to assist the user in getting an international plan before incurring extra expenses.  It’s limited, but can be significant preventing a few occasions may justify the feature.  It may be more effective to identify frequent international travelers and update their plans.

The other main claim of MDM/EMM’s is that they can identify most active users and least active users.  MDM/EMM solutions can create usage reports that management can act upon by changing heavy user plans or removing low-use users.  Some reports only reflect messaging use not voice.  Therefore, it is important to define the usage base.

These features are real and have real value but are not, “real” mobile telecom expense management (TEM) systems.

How is mobile Telecom Expense Management different?

Mobile Telecom Expense Management is by far a more robust end-to-end lifecycle concept. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you know how much you’re spending? If not, dollar signs might as well be spewing from the tablets and mobile devices in your infrastructure.
  • Is your organization getting the best rate plans available for your size?
  • Are the carriers actually billing you at the proper rates? Applying discounts?
  • Do Joe and Mary, who have the same devices, have the same plans? Same features? Are they billed at the same rates?
  • How are you ensuring your employees get the right devices, features and plans?
  • How do you dispute issues or incorrect bills and ensure you get credit?

If you’re unsure about any of these, a true mobile telecom expense management assessment and service can help provide answers.
A TEM service typically quickly begins saving money and has a short breakeven point.

With a telecom expense management, you can help reduce telecom expenses by typically 10 to 20 percent and increase control over voice, data and wireless costs. Typical payback ranges from three to nine months.

How TEM works
TEM typically starts with an optimization and expense review of all invoices, statements and bills for the past three months. This exercise can determine how much you are overpaying for mobile services.  Mobile TEM is a mobile device lifecycle management service. A few of its key attributes are that the TEM service can:

  • Based on its industry benchmarking, negotiate rates, terms and conditions with your carriers on your behalf, resulting substantial savings
  • Process your monthly invoices, audit to verify accuracy and even process payment to the carrier, reducing your burden and costs
  • Manage disputes and ensure proper credit if an invoice is found to be in error
  • Facilitate usage by assisting in the development of user personas and profiles identifying classes of need and arranging for plans that fit the profiles; or on a larger scale helping purchase bulk minutes, data and text at lower rates and then allocating to individuals and apportioning those reduced costs down to organization or department levels
  • Provide a user portal for employees to select approved devices, rate plans, services, accessories and so on, and process them, including approvals, submitting and tracking orders with the carrier, ensuring shipment to the user and proper activation and provisioning

Comparing MDM/EMM and TEM solutions
The complete TEM  picture is above and you can’t get these services and associated savings from an MDM/EMM. MDM/EMM’s are necessary and have their own value proposition.

But an MDM/EMM alone can’t tell you if you were billed incorrectly, inform you that you’re eligible for a device upgrade, order a device and more.MDM/EMM and TEM complement each other and in many cases can be integrated

IBM had a long history of TEM Services prior to the Wireless age.  Keep in mind Mobile TEM only relates to the devices connecting to cell towers.  True TEM includes all the other connections (wired) supporting a business on the internet, including switches, routers and  gateways

Tangoe enhanced capabilities in 2015 when by purchasing IBM’s Emptoris Rivermine Telecom Expense Management,  A software solution which provided expense data is in a single database managed from a single system not one for fixed and one for Mobile. When TEM is integrated with an MDM/EMM solution, it can Leverage the MDM/EMM to also lock or wipe devices and to reset passwords.  GSGtelco has a strong reputation for pulling together TEM,  Device Life Cycle Management and Cloud Hosted MDM/EMM.  MOBI and other Solid vendors are available.

However independent TEM information is scarce these days,  Gartner has not written a Magic Quadrant for Telecom Expense Management since March 29, 2012  even access to the 2013,  report on critical capabilities for TEM has expired. While Gartner has published  a paper “Competitive Landscape: Independent Telecom Expense Management Providers, 2016“,  at $1,295, I have not found one of its providers sponsoring free access.

To learn to know more about TEM and how TEM services can reduce your costs and increase your bottom line?  I suggest reviewing: