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Mobile devices: Making the most of mobile services

Corporate IT departments use mobile device management platforms to enforce mobility policies and acceptable-use best practices. Device management software can install applications, configure settings and assist mobile workers in connecting to company applications and data. But effective device management requires more than just software – it takes people, processes and support contingencies. This is where managed mobility services come into play. In this tip, Daniel Taylor address the types of services that exist to help companies manage their mobile devices.

Corporate IT departments use mobile device management platforms to enforce mobility policies and acceptable-use best practices. Device management software can install applications, configure settings and assist mobile workers in connecting to company applications and data. But effective device management requires more than just software – it takes people, processes and support contingencies. This is where managed mobility services come into play.

In the following section of our six-part series on managed mobility services, we will address the types of services that exist to help companies manage their mobile devices.

Making the most of managed mobile services
Part 1: The ground rules

Part 2: Managing mobile devices

Device provisioning
Before we manage a PDA or smartphone, we have to take delivery. Numerous services firms will handle order fulfillment and provisioning for corporate customers. These companies will also install software onto the device and will configure it for use on a specific enterprise or carrier network.

Asset management
Mobile devices are company assets and need to be managed as such. Maintaining an accurate inventory of devices, installed software and user permissions is difficult in its own right, but the frequency with which mobile devices are damaged, lost or stolen compounds the challenge. For companies with a clean slate, asset management can be a valuable component of a managed mobility service.

Testing and certification
As mentioned in the previous section of this series, many companies are standardizing on a hardware platform and software load. The software needs to be debugged and tested internally, and once it has gone through those processes, it needs to be certified for use on a carrier network. Managed services companies routinely work with carriers to certify PDAs, smartphones and the associated software loads for use on the network.

Support and help desk
In-house or outsourced? The perennial IT support question applies to mobility as well. A common best practice is for companies to outsource the Tier 1 help desk while maintaining Tier 2 capabilities in house. In this model, the objective is for the internal Tier 2 desk to continually pass knowledge, expertise and processes to the Tier 1 organization.

Break-fix and lost devices
It is common for laptop computers to be lost or stolen, but the numbers accelerate as the devices become smaller. Corporate users lose or break thousands of mobile devices each week, and the priority is to replace the device as quickly as possible. Devices with installed software present a greater challenge in the retail channel. Even though a user can go into a retail store to replace a mobile device, it is more difficult to install the correct software and configurations.

For this reason, mobile services companies offer drop ship capabilities for order fulfillment and device replacement. The service provider will install the correct software load, user information and any other details necessary for the user to be operational within 24 hours of the trouble ticket.

Vendor management
Some mobile services companies will complement their device management services with vendor management for mobile operators. The service company will apply IT best practices for vendor management, negotiating bulk purchases, identifying challenges and resolving issues. Companies that rely on a managed service for vendor management have, on average, a minimum of three mobile operators under management. The business case for vendor management can be sufficient for cost-justifying the investment in the service.

Bill presentment and audit
Another task associated with vendor management involves billing. IT organizations commonly assemble bills from mobile operators and audit usage to identify outliers and billing issues and to make certain that users are on an appropriate plan. This can be a time-consuming activity, and it is yet another type of managed service.

Managed services for mobile devices
IT managers can find a service to address each and every mobile device management function found within a corporate IT organization. The role of these managed mobile device services is to complement capabilities that exist in house. Smaller IT organizations also find steady and predictable management costs that can effectively scale across a large number of users.

In the next part of this series, we will discuss managed mobile email services. Then we will discuss services for managing cellular telephony and enterprise applications. This series on Making The Most of Managed Mobility will culminate in a best practices guide for managed mobility services.

Daniel Taylor
About the author: Daniel Taylor is managing director for the Mobile Enterprise Alliance, Inc. (MEA), and he is responsible for global alliance development, programs, marketing and member relations. He brings over fourteen years of high technology experience and is well known as a subject matter expert on many of the aspects of mobility, including wireless data networking, security, enterprise applications and communications services. Prior to the MEA, Dan held a number of product marketing and development positions in the communications industry.


This was last published in March 2007

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