Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00
BYOD is all the rage with mobility pundits. And from a theoretical standpoint, that’s understandable. After all, just about every employee in today’s workplace has his or her own smartphone. So why should we buy them all a second device to keep them productive in the workplace?
Well, maybe we shouldn’t. But those of us working on the front lines of corporate mobility have seen a lot go wrong with BYOD. There’s the salesperson who got rocked by an extra couple of hundred bucks on his monthly wireless bill. There’s the HR manager who got a call from a union rep about the overtime implications for employees checking their email after hours from home. And there’s the help desk team that saw their workload shoot through the roof when Apple release its upgrade to iOS 6.1.3.
The question therefore isn’t whether BYOD as an abstract concept makes sense or not. It’s how we can make BYOD programs work for our organizations and our employees from a technical, economic, operational and risk management perspective.
We also need to face the truth: BYOD may not make sense for every organization or every employee. Yes, the alternatives to BYOD result in people having to carry around multiple devices. But is that really the worst thing in the world?
A recent survey by Sophos revealed that the average gadget user carries 2.9 devices. These can include some combination of a smartphone, a tablet, an MP3 player, an e-reader and/or a laptop. So it’s a bit naïve to assume that the challenges of BYOD automatically and in every instance are less problematic than simply asking someone to carry a separate device for their work—especially if that work-specific device offers substantial benefits by seriously empowering them with the right mix of mobile applications and services.
Mobility decision-makers therefore need to focus much more on understanding their real business needs—and their real limitations in terms of opex budgets and support capacity—so they can make smarter, more sober-minded decisions about how exactly to maximize their mobility ROI.
Yes, it’s great to leverage our employee’s personal mobile devices to whatever extent we can practically to do so. But that’s not our mission. Our mission is to make our organizations productive, secure and profitable. BYOD only makes sense insofar as it furthers those goals. Outside of that, it’s a buzzword that makes money for technology vendors and industry pundits—not for us.
Monday, 18 February 2013 00:00
With the onset of smart phones, wireless data usage continues to rise. In response, wireless carriers constantly change their data plans to adjust to the changing in user behavior. The most recent new changes are from AT&T on their voice roaming plans. How does this affect businesses that utilize roaming? How do businesses compare roaming fees from different carriers?
We took an attempt to compare the rates of the four US carriers—AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. We randomly pick a few countries from each region and review the rates offer by these carriers. The average cost is calculated evenly among the chosen countries.
The results even surprise us. We always thought T-Mobile has the lowest roaming cost, which is true with voice roaming. Yet it is the 2nd highest in data roaming. Sprint’s data roaming fee is high because many of the countries are not covered by its Multi-Country Data Pack.
Some companies receive grandfathered BlackBerry roaming plans from the carriers, which are not considered in our comparison here.
For plans that include a limited number of roaming minutes or roaming MB, we did not include overage cost in the comparison because it complicates the calculation. For example, Verizon offers a 100MB of data roaming plan for $25. The 101st MB will require another $25 plan. It will be very complicated to factor this information into our comparison.
The Smackdown on Voice Roaming Rates
|Voice Roaming||AT&T ($30)||AT&T ($60)||AT&T ($120)||Sprint ($4.99)||T-Mobile ($9.99)||Verizon ($4.99)|
|Average Per Min
- AT&T provides 9 different voice roaming plans starting at $30. The overage is $0.50/min for North America countries, $1/min for European countries, and $2/min for the rest of the world.
- The remaining carriers require a reduced-roaming fee feature in order to obtain the rates that are listed in the above table: Sprint $2.99 – $4.99, T-Mobile $9.99, and Verizon $4.99.
The Smackdown on Data Roaming Rates
||AT&T ($30)||AT&T ($60)||AT&T ($120)||Sprint ($30/$40)||Sprint ($75/$80)||Sprint ($125/$80)||T-Mobile ($9.99)||Verizon ($25)
|Average Per MB
- AT&T provides 3 different data roaming plans starting at $30. When you go over the allotted MB, the next MB will require a new plan. For example, the $30 plan provides 120MB of roaming data usage. The 121st MB will require a new $30 plan that will cover the 121st to 240th MB.
- Sprint provides 5 different data roaming plans: 3 for North America roaming and 2 for the rest of the countries. The overage on the North America plans is billed at $4/MB of overage. The overage on the rest of the countries is billed at $10/MB of overage.
- T-Mobile provides discounted data roaming usage when you add the $9.99 reduced roaming feature, which is the same feature for voice roaming usage.
- Verizon provides a single data roaming plan: $25 for 100MB. Similar to AT&T, the 101st MB will require a new $25 plan and will cover another 100MB of usage.
In conclusion, we are pleasantly surprised with AT&T new voice roaming plans, which covers usage in 220 countries. (Compared to Verizon’s 167 countries.) These plans drastically reduce the cost of calling when overseas.
We still like Verizon’s simplified one plan for data roaming. However, AT&T’s comparable plans are giving Verizon a run for its money. Verizon’s data roaming plan covers 123 countries while AT&T’s data roaming plans cover 151 countries. Countries that are not covered will be charged a per KB fee.
From studying many corporations’ roaming usage, data roaming usage definitely outpace voice roaming usage. Therefore, when choosing a carrier based on its roaming fees, we recommend putting more emphasis on the carriers’ data roaming cost over voice roaming cost.
Monday, 29 October 2012 00:00
BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) has become a buzz word of 2012. Yet, many companies are reluctant to venture into this area for various reasons. But with their employees constantly demanding it, companies often have no choice but to comply.
Employees want BYOD because companies do not want to pay for expensive smart phones. With BYOD, employees can purchase whatever phone models they want, and ask their companies to provide them access to corporate data and emails. On the other hand, there are many reasons companies do not want BYOD – no control over employee-owned phones, can’t impose policies such as talking-while-driving for business, reimbursement on services cost more than corporate-owned accounts, employees still demand support even though corporate does not have access to employee-owned accounts, and hidden cost in stipend-reimbursement. True, there are mobile device management (MDM) software employers can put onto the devices to prevent data breach, but there isn’t a lot it can do to address the other concerns companies often have.
Enter BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone). BYOP is a program where the employee pays for the device (hardware) while the service is owned by the company. This means, the employer owns the phone number, pays for the monthly services, and have complete control over the service and how the device can be used during business hours. The employee owns the hardware device so when s/he leaves the company, s/he can take the device. There are several ways to accomplish this:
- Employee purchases the phone at retail cost and then brings it back to the employer to activate service. In the US, this can be more costly because the carriers often subsidize part of the cost of the device when purchasing with a service contract. By not having a service contract, the employee will not get the carrier subsidy.
- Employer purchases the phone and the service contract, and then deduct the device cost from employee’ paycheck. With the right reports and cooperation from the accounting department, this can be done very simply.
- The carrier charges the employee for cost of equipment (subsidized) and activates the service contract under employer’s account. This can be done if the carrier is willing to work with you to coordinate the activation. This is the desired choice if the carrier will work with you.
With BYOP, both the companies and employees get what they want, and companies do not have to give up the control they have been enjoying under the traditional wireless program. Companies can even go one step further and allow employees to transfer their own numbers by assuming the responsibility of the employees’ service. When the employees leave, they can then transfer the liability back to the employees.
Thursday, 24 February 2011 04:27
For years, companies have been periodically refreshing their desktop PCs in order to keep up with processor cycles, new operating systems and other platform considerations.
But, as mobility becomes increasingly imperative, it may be time to think about dispensing with the desktop altogether—at least for certain types of users—and performing the next round of end-user technology refresh with a laptop, netbook or tablet alone.
There are several reasons to think seriously about a desktop-less refresh cycle, where appropriate:
You’re going to have to give these users mobility anyway. It has simply become unacceptable to limit knowledge worker productivity to the office. Business moves too fast and people cost too much. But if you’re going to get someone a laptop or tablet anyway, why continue to spend money on a desktop that is essentially extraneous? Cut the cord and save some money.
Corporate culture is changing. A new generation of Millennials are entering the workforce. Many of these people grew up and went through college with a laptop as their only computer. They actually don’t like PCs and find it absurd to keep synching one device to another—when they could instead be using one device all the time.
Management and support have gotten easier. Back when only a relatively small number of people had laptops, they could be a bit of a management hassle. Securing data, enabling remote connectivity and the like could consume a disproportionate amount of IT resources. That situation has changed dramatically. Now there are lots of tools for mobile device management—and many key capabilities are available via SaaS. Amortize that over a larger number of mobile devices in your organization, and per-unit TCO can be driven way down.
These are just the reasons that IT can finally be open to a mobility-only refresh from a cost and logistics perspective. From a business perspective, the arguments may be even stronger. Mobility not only improves user productivity, it also fundamentally changes the relationship between people and work. It gives them tremendous flexibility to solve problem, make decisions and collaborate with people across and beyond the organization on an anytime/anywhere basis. They start their workday earlier and end it later.
Yet, at the same time, they can actually have a better work/life balance because they have more flexibility to get things done when they want to get them done. If they want to leave the office a little early to get to the gym or attend a child’s sports event, they can—because they can always finish up what they’re working on later.
So now may be the time to resist the automatic reflex to get new desktops because that’s just the way things have always been done. You may very well be able to spend less and deliver more value to the business by letting go of the fixed desktop entirely—and making mobility the new personal computing standard for your knowledge workers.
Tuesday, 09 November 2010 00:00
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Carrier invoices are notoriously indecipherable, and in the latest Verizon Wireless changes, new columns in the invoices are added while existing columns are removed. For example, in a recent email Verizon sent to its customer, Verizon added a new column for “Messaging Charges” while removing the column called “Data Usage”.
Unfortunately, invoice form changes is quite typical for carriers, it’s not just Verizon Wireless. Although the enhancements to the invoices have their merits, it makes it difficult for you to decipher the new information just as you are getting used to the old format.
The reality is you need to be able to analyze every line item on a carrier invoice, and know what it means. Sometimes even when the line item is listed, it’s so cryptic it’s hard to understand. If you cannot analyze your invoices line by line, it’s impossible to find all the potential savings, make sure you have the features you need, and drive down your costs.
Please email us any questions you have about your invoices. We’ll be happy to answer them. Our software suite not only “translates” every single charge on the carrier invoices, it is also designed to proactively detect new carrier invoice changes, and enable OneCall Manage to quickly account for these new changes. We are always up-to-date with carrier invoice changes, where we can quickly incorporate the changes into our analysis. We also translate them into meaningful information for you to make a data-driven, sound decision about a service plan.
We also offer a HelpDesk service that calls the carrier for you when you do find errors or changes that need to be made, and resolves disputes on your behalf.
Thursday, 18 August 2011 00:00
Mobile stipends: Solution or cop-out?
Many companies are trying to simplify their management of employee mobility through the use of stipends. Under this approach, employees can get whatever device they want and use it as much as they want. The only thing their employer does to support the mobility of its employees is issue them a monthly stipend to defray their monthly wireless bill.
On one hand, I can see how this might be attractive to some companies. After all, it’s super-simple. You don’t have to manage a complex wireless bill. You don’t have to analyze user behavior. You don’t even have any responsibility for the devices themselves if they break or get lost. All you have to do is add a fixed amount to selected employees’ paychecks once a month.
On the other hand, stipends are completely counter-productive—and don’t make any sense for companies that are serious about leveraging mobility in order to gain competitive advantage.
You spend too much for too little. Carriers don’t give individual customers the same discounts they offer corporate buyers. Individual customer can’t pool minutes, either. So you’ll spend much more money to get far fewer minutes.
Employees lose too much time when their devices break. With a corporate account, you get a corporate rep who handles such incidents for you. With an individual account, people have to wait in line at the store like everybody else. How many hours of employee productivity do you really want to lose every month because of phone problems?
Security suffers. If the company owns the phone, the employee turns the phone in to the company when he or she leaves. This gives the company the opportunity to wipe the data off it. If the employee owns the phone, the chances of this wipe occurring drop dramatically.
If a stipend is too low, it can inappropriately inhibit device use. All it takes is one big bill for an employee to start limiting his or her use of wireless voice and data services—even for appropriate business reasons. So your company and your customers wind up suffering because you’ve inappropriately placed a personal spending burden on your employee.
Actually, if you think about it, you can’t determine the right stipend unless you understand your users’ behaviors. And you can’t have any visibility into user behaviors if you don’t own the plan.
Again, I understand why a stipend-only approach is attractive. I just don’t think it’s the right approach for most companies—at least not if they’re serious about turning every dollar spent on wireless services into maximum business value.
Thursday, 04 August 2011 00:00It is obviously most important to save money when business requirements are growing faster than resources. This is the current case with wireless telecom. Usage is growing for a variety of reasons. People are practically living on their cellphones and smartphones. We are asking every individual to be more productive, because we’re not increasing our organizational headcounts. Plus, we’re all experiencing “cell first” syndrome—because people know they’re more likely to just get our voicemail if they dial our landlines.
But we can’t afford to have our monthly wireless invoices to grow at the same rate as our usage. So we want to use wireless expense management (WEM) to keep our bills under control.
Unfortunately, the same resource constraints that make us want to cut our phone bills so badly can also keep us from adopting WEM. After all, who can afford to go through a complex, time- and resource-intensive WEM implementation when we have too much on our plates as it is? And who wants to take the risk of prioritizing a WEM implementation—only to find out at the end of an expensive three- or four-month ordeal that the cost reductions we’ve achieved were not really worth the investment of time and money?
The answer: Nobody.
That’s why one of the keys to WEM success is automated, non-disruptive implementation. It doesn’t matter what kind of results might possibly lie at the end of a WEM implementation if that end is too far away and too hard to get to. It has to be fast and it has to be easy.
Put another way, I’d rather save 14% on my phone bill in two weeks than save 22% on my phone bill never.
However, we should also make it clear that simplified, non-disruptive WEM solutions (including cloud-based WEM-as-a-service offerings) are not automatically less effective than more ponderous WEM technology when it comes to discovering opportunities for savings. The effectiveness of any WEM solution is tied to its analytic algorithms. From a technical perspective, these algorithms are independent from the solution’s data capture mechanisms.
So, on one hand, you can have a conventional WEM solution that’s slow and difficult to implement—but still doesn’t deliver results that are very different from its competitors. On the other hand, you can have a WEMaaS solution that’s completely non-disruptive to your current operations—but, thanks to its back-end algorithms—yields especially high savings.
That’s why I strongly recommend you make ease of implementation your primary consideration when evaluating WEM solutions. Investing a lot to save who-knows-how-much-and how-soon just doesn’t make sense in today’s economy. Cutting your monthly bill with a few conversations and a handful of keystrokes does.
Thursday, 21 July 2011 00:00Historically, TEM and WEM have moved at a glacial pace. Some WEM vendors still take months to on-board customers and start providing invoice analysis. They also struggle to provide timely ongoing insight into user behavior.
But time is money. And nowhere is this truer than with WEM. Here’s why:
Savings delayed are savings lost
The longer it takes you to get up to speed with WEM, the longer you continue overpaying your wireless carriers. That’s money you can never get back.
Also, with a slow-moving WEM engagement, you tie up cash and human resources without seeing any business benefit for months. In today’s economy, few companies can afford such unnecessarily delayed ROI.
User behaviors can change overnight
There is no rule that states that users have to behave this month the same way they behaved last month. In fact, in today’s virally connected social networks, a hot new website can change your users’ data usage overnight. So you have to be able to immediately spot any trends and anomalies in usage that might affect your next bill.
Businesses need to be highly adaptable
In today’s dynamic marketplace, you never know what kind of business change you’ll have to accommodate. You may acquire a company. You may roll out new wireless apps. You may completely restructure your sales and field service organizations.
If it takes an inordinate amount of time and effort to modify your WEM system accordingly, you will add to the cost and the headaches associated with every such change. And you’ll again expose yourself to the likelihood of having to spend too much on wireless for some period of time before you get your act together.
That’s why speed and adaptability is central to any WEM value proposition. A WEM solution that you can get up and running immediately will start paying for itself immediately. It will also free up your resources immediately, so you can move on to the next project.
A nimble WEM solution will also let you stay on top of your users’ behavior, so you can quickly take appropriate action if usage starts to deviate from previous months’ norms. Such a solution will also more easily accommodate change—allowing you to better support the moves your business makes.
Of course, it’s tough to overcome the mind-set that WEM has to be slow and cumbersome. For years, WEM vendors—especially those from traditional TEM backgrounds—have insisted that the accurate analysis of wireless invoices had to be a laborious, months-long process.
But this is not the case. WEM can now be delivered quickly as a cloud-based service. So you can start getting results quickly—and nimbly adapt to any changes that come down the road.
Speed counts. And it pays.
How quickly—or slowly—did you get your WEM solution up and running? I’d love to know! Just contact me at
Thursday, 14 July 2011 02:23Now that Verizon has announced the end of unlimited data plans, corporate telecom managers will have to rethink the way they buy wireless plans for their users.
Unlimited data made things easy for us. It absolved us of the need to think. We could just throw a few extra dollars at our carriers, and any responsibility we might have to actually understand users’ behaviors—and to closely align our spending with those behaviors—magically went away. Poof.
With the death of unlimited data, however, we will eventually have to do what managers are paid to do—which is manage. Shocking, I know. But it is a cruel world, and we must accept its fallen state.
Most of us are still “grandfathered” in, of course—so our day of reckoning is still a ways off. Verizon’s announcement should, however, act as a wake-up call for the entire industry. So we would be well-advised to start taking a long, hard look at how we buy wireless data services.
In fact, rather than being bad news, the Verizon announcement may be just what we needed to get our wireless house in order.
Here are three actions to consider taking today:
- Baseline everybody’s data usage. You can’t make good buying decisions if you don’t know what your actual needs are. If you can’t easily generate reports that show you your top users, month-to-month utilization trends, etc., then you need to fix that problem first.
- Find out what is driving that usage. Don’t assume someone’s high use of data is simply the result of browsing the web a lot, when what really happened is that they downloaded a couple of cute kitten videos from Facebook. And don’t assume everyone understands that those two behaviors might not equally constitute legitimate use.
- Get people off unlimited plans now. You probably shouldn’t continue overpaying for unlimited data plans simply because Verizon is allowing you to continue doing so. There may, in fact, be better things that your company could do with its money. So start putting people on cheaper plans if that make more sense for them.
By the way, when you take people off an unlimited plan, you have to tell them you’ve taken them off an unlimited plan. That way, you won’t have to worry about them suddenly starting to treat wireless data like it’s free. Because it’s not.
Do you buy unlimited data plans for your users by default? Or do you have a different system for determining which users get which plan? I’d love to know how you do it! Just contact me at
Thursday, 07 July 2011 19:39
One surprisingly common reason that companies don’t use WEMaaS to cut their phone bills has nothing to do with calling plans or cost calculations. It has to do with basic human psychology.
Many telecom managers are simply embarrassed to publicly admit that they’ve been spending way too much money on wireless every month.
On one hand, this embarrassment is understandable. Telecom managers are experienced professionals who take legitimate pride in how well they do their jobs. If they suddenly have to admit to their CFO that they’ve been spending thousands of dollars a month more than they had to, it is possible that their competency may be momentarily questioned. And no one likes that.
On the other hand, this embarrassment is problematic—because it can keep telecom managers from saving their companies substantial sums of money.
I hate when companies overspend on telecom, so I’m going to offer a few suggestions to any of you who may be hesitating to pursue big savings on your wireless bills because you think it may wind up making you look bad in retrospect:
- Blame it on the carriers. Carriers purposefully maintain a degree of opacity in their rates and invoice presentation. The reason you’ve overspent in the past isn’t that you’re incompetent. It’s that the carriers have been so unhelpful.
- Credit breakthrough technology. The reason you’re able to reap big savings now isn’t that you finally decided to do your job right. It’s that there has been a breakthrough in WEMaaS. It’s not your fault that software capable of quickly and automatically pinpointing opportunities for savings in today’s complex corporate wireless bills didn’t become available until 2011.
- Keep tallying the score. Sure, your CFO may roll his or her eyes when you first announce the savings you’ve discovered. But that’s just a short-term hit. What’s really counts is how much you save your company over the long term. So keep reporting your quarterly and annual savings as you rack them up. That will make any momentary embarrassment a thing of the past.
Companies are spending too much on wireless. So telecom managers have to overcome their fear of savings—and start driving down wireless costs today.