Call Accounting Featured Article

Managing Wireless Resources: A New, Complex and Costly Task for Enterprises


October 04, 2007

Effectively managing resources is a key part of running a competitive business. Some resources are easier to manage than others, though. Generally speaking, resources that have an established role in business are easier to manage than newer ones, because best practices have been worked out through trial and error by those who went before.
 
For example, companies have always hired people (“human resources”) to work for them, and therefore strategies for effectively managing a workforce are well-defined. Other resources, such as mobile communications devices and associated services, are newer to business and therefore more of a challenge to manage.
 
Another factor determining how easy it is to manage a particular type of resource is how complex it is. Keeping track of an inventory of desktop computers, although it involves many units and components, is a fairly straightforward task: each computer can be tagged with a specific number, with identifying information stored in a database. Once a computer is installed at a particular desk, it isn’t likely to move for a while—after all, employees don’t usually carry their desktop computers home with them (though they do laptops) and for the most part only IT staff would be likely to physically move a computer from one desk to another.
 
An inventory of mobile communications resources, on the other hand, is very complex to manage. It involves keeping physical track of many devices, as well as a variety of different service plans. Even when they are explicitly owned by the company (and this is not always the case), mobile devices can and usually are carried out of the office with employees when they go home or head out to meet with a client. The newness factor further exacerbates this complexity; since companies haven’t been using mobile communications for very long, best-practices are just now emerging and clear policies are not always in place.
 
Many companies are finding that wireless communications resources are difficult to manage both because of the newness factor and because of the complexity factor. For both these reasons, on average it costs about ten times more to manage wireless services and devices than it does to manage wireline communications assets.
 
In a recent survey, industry research firm AberdeenGroup found that managing wireless expenses is a top priority for 64 percent of companies, yet 44 percent of enterprises have no formal management plan in place. Ten percent of companies said they had not assigned a particular group to centrally manage wireless assets, and most respondents said they were only proactively managing 57 percent of such assets (not surprising, since 44 percent of the companies said at least some of the wireless service contracts were “owned” by employees).
 
The picture painted so far is of a high level of confusion, uncertainty and skyrocketing expenses associated with wireless communications resources.
 
“Enterprises do not have visibility into what they are currently paying for wireless services,” AberdeenGroup said in a recent white paper. “They do not have an accurate measure of the costs to support devices, and they are unprepared for the proliferation of smartphones.”
 
So what’s an enterprise to do? AberdeenGroup suggested four steps to getting wireless resources under control and under effective management.
 
Migrate from employee-liable to corporate-liable contracts. This may seem like a no-brainer, but until the company has 100 percent ownership of wireless resources used in its business activities, management will never be completely effective. Bringing device ownership and service ownership under the company’s roof opens up doors for streamlining contacts and saving money with group discounts.
 
Gain access to expertise. Many company do not have the internal resources needed to effectively manage wireless resources, and thus would do well to outsource some or all of this complex task to a firm that specializes in telecom expense and wireless expense management.
 
Budget 10 times more for operational support. There is no getting around the fact that managing wireless resources costs more than managing wireline communications. Sufficient staff is needed to efficiently keep up with wireless mobility, and money should be budgeted accordingly.
 
Implement technology. This tip refers to picking software and business process outsourcing solutions designed to automate and streamline wireless resource management. Managing wireless resources may always cost more than wireline, but the cost can nonetheless be reduced with intelligent use of technology.
 
To learn more about how companies can get a handle on their wireless resources, please visit the Call Accounting channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Avotus (News - Alert).
 

To learn even more about wireless resource management and call accounting, check TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents free to registered users.

 
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page. Also check out her Wireless Mobility blog.