Spend Matters welcomes a guest post from Ralph Shaw, of iSimplyConnect.
Faced with economic and competitor pressures, companies rarely pass up an opportunity for cost savings. What businesses may not know is that mobility can be a major source of unnecessary spending. As with other top expenses such as payroll, research and development, or property leases, we know it's not okay to skimp on what's an essential driver of success. With mobility promising so many benefits like increased productivity, configuring mobile devices for business use has become imperative. Perhaps your company began with mobile devices to the executive suite or had a "BlackBerry-only" policy. But now BYOD ("Bring Your Own Device") has swept across the company. While IT is coming to grips with management and security, has your company considered the expense management side of mobility? New devices, data plans, apps, software -- what is the true cost of BYOD?
I've worked alongside companies of all sizes and across many industries to define mobile strategies and policies. I've been able to identify the constant threads that drive successful enterprise mobility, specifically in the cost department. Here is my "Top 5" list of best practices for developing mobile policies to avoid pitfalls that often translate to increased expenses.
- Invest in technology that has long term benefit
With the rapid evolution of technology, it's difficult to differentiate what's going to thrive and what's merely a fad. Keep tabs on the market and don't let the pressures of competitors or even employees overly influence your decisions. Investments into costly, complex hardware and software don't always make sense when there's a question of obsoleteness in a few years. There are options that'll get the trick done without the hefty price tag. For example, look for pay-as-you-go solutions. Whichever way you go, be sure to align technology investments with overall business strategy, including future growth and direction.
- Avoid vendor lock
Previously, businesses bought hardware, software and consulting plus integration and support from one vendor. Enter the post-PC era, where businesses are dealing with multiple vendors and therefore multiple sources of lock in (contracts, equipment, and major investments of time, training, $$). Ensure that there's an opt-out clause in all contracts and achieve what's best for your company. If you're not comfortable, don't sign, period.
- Achieve scalability across all processes and solutions
The bottom line is that enterprise mobility strategies need to be flexible. Mobility is growing and becoming more complex, and even when all employees are wirelessly connected to your network your job isn't done. New devices are hitting the market more frequently than ever -- not only with new versions (like the latest iPad) but also with the introduction of new form factors (like Microsoft Surface). Ensure your company is practicing scalability internally and also externally when working with vendors and third parties.
- Develop usage policies
The beauty of mobility is that the business network can be made available to employees anytime, anywhere -- offsite meetings, working from home, overseas. But that last one, overseas, is often a source of devastating overage charges. International use of mobile devices doesn't have to cost your company tons with the help of effective usage policies. Perhaps checking email and voice calling are okay, but streaming data and SMS are not permitted. Whatever it may be, be sure to clearly define, communicate and enforce policies.
By knowing and understanding the overall usage habits of your employees, best practice #5 will come easier.
- Optimize data plans
Dealing with wireless providers can be tricky, particularly if you're enrolling and managing business users. Typically, plans are not set up to benefit businesses (although new shared data plans are getting there). Take control over plans by carefully monitoring bills and charges, and don't be afraid to negotiate. Knowing usage trends among employees will help alleviate a surplus from overestimated usage or overage charges from underestimation.
With a savvy mobile strategy, opportunities for savings can be identified and costs can be controlled. Whether your company is novice or expert, these strategies and policies can help lessen the vast cost associated with the tools, software, hardware, support, and training necessary to sustain a mobile enterprise.
- Ralph Shaw, CEO, Asavie Technologies