Managed Mobility Services: Options for the Most Efficient Support Structure


As mobile devices have proliferated across the corporate landscape, organizations are having to rethink the way they manage the mobility services environment across their corporate enterprise. Many organizations assume their workplace services provider will be able to manage their mobility services environment alongside their workplace services support in an all-inclusive offering. But finding an effective managed mobility services provider is not as easy as one might assume.

Managed mobility services typically include management of the entire mobile device ecosystem. Managing this mobility ecosystem includes a range of tasks, from identifying mobile device vendors for appropriate geographic regions, to evaluating the service plans offered within each of these regions, negotiating the device types and usage contracts, procuring the mobile devices, and providing lifecycle management of the devices from procurement through refresh and disposal. Additional services potentially included in a managed mobility services agreement are activities related to telecom expense management, vendor relationships management, contracts management, demand management, operational management, invoice management, roaming requirements and statistical reporting. The primary benefit of contracting a managed mobility services support model is having a complete end-to-end enterprise service model with a single responsible party and single accountability for efficient mobility agreements and usage.

Given the need for this broad, all-inclusive support model, what are the best paths forward? One option is to incorporate this support functionality into the scope of the existing workplace services agreement. Workplace services providers frequently do an outstanding job of supporting a client’s end-user environment and devices. But when it comes to supporting and managing the full suite of managed mobility requirements, the story can be different. It makes one wonder, if service providers can support workplace services so efficiently, why can’t they support managed mobility services equally as efficiently?

It comes down to a lack of experience with a very complicated landscape. Strong oversight and execution of managed mobility services requires negotiating with and managing global mobile device vendors and the associated usage contracts, knowledge of standard market terms and provisions in each region of the world, and expertise in managing constantly changing usage and roaming requirements. Supporting these specialized requirements are skills frequently not implicit within the workplace services supplier community.

In fact, most workplace services providers have little-to-no experience dealing with mobile device vendors or mobile carrier vendors in multiple countries around the world. They do not have expertise in structuring and negotiating usage contracts or managing individual users as they travel the globe and require constantly changing roaming capabilities that must be turned on and off frequently. And, perhaps most importantly, they do not have experienced staff capable of providing this type of support.

Simply put, workplace services providers do not understand the necessary and appropriate best practices required for an efficient enterprise-wide managed mobility environment. They lack experience creating and enforcing mobility policies, selecting usage plans, meeting security needs, putting in place operational controls and procedures and responding to help desk needs.

Be prepared for pushback if you ask your workplace services provider to support your mobility environment as it does your workplace services environment. Some providers will attempt to comply with the support request and commit the resources to make it happen. But be cautious when evaluating their services, as they are unlikely to be able to provide the same efficient, high-quality services to which you have grown accustomed with your workplace services environment. It is simply not something they do frequently or well.

What alternatives do you have? While there is no silver bullet, there are several options for consideration. If your existing workplace services provider does not have existing partnerships with mobility vendors, consider a provider that does. Validate the full suite of support services you require and ensure they cover the entire scope.

A second alternative is to consider a global carrier as your managed mobility services provider of choice.  They will likely have the greatest level of experience with the support required. Keep in mind, however, that this decision introduces an additional provider into your governance environment – an additional provider to manage and align strategically ensuring that the newly introduced touchpoints are aligned.

A third – and perhaps preferred – alternative is to separate your managed mobility support into different functional pieces. Seek a specialty provider familiar with carrier market dynamics who can successfully perform the carrier negotiations. Consider that an experienced internal vendor management team can effectively provide vendor management support. Then seek another specialty vendor experienced with telecom expense management to perform expense management activities.

By carving off these specific elements of managed mobility services support, you free up your current workplace services provider to perform those services most familiar to its support structure, and you allow a specialist in mobility services to properly support those activities. A solution segmented by functional and specialized areas allows each party to do what it does best; your goal for a best-in-class support model.

ISG helps enterprises find the right service providers for their specific needs and design strategies to manage increasingly complex managed mobility device services environments. Contact us to discuss how we can help.


About the author

John Cawyer

John Cawyer

John Cawyer, a director in ISG’s advisory organization, has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology industry as both a supplier and an advisor, including 15 years with TPI/ISG. His strong analytical, communication and evaluation skills produce quick understandings of his clients’ needs and effective direction and recommendations. John offers expertise in all aspects of the sourcing evaluation lifecycle ranging from front-end internal cost analysis, strategy and assessments, contract structuring and negotiation, service transition management, contract financial management, and contract restructuring and renegotiations, John has assisted over 40 global and regional clients spanning across North America, Europe, Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Industries have included financial services, retail, commercial goods & services, manufacturing, telecommunications, energy and travel.