Rob Whitmore, is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Consulting for Tangoe. In this guest post, he shares how small businesses can juggle carriers and manage employees to ensure lowered cost, heightened security and unwavering productivity
Let’s face it, many small businesses are allowing employees to use their personal mobile smartphones and tablets for work-related purposes because of enormous benefits in terms of productivity and real-time connectivity at all locations and times. But what small businesses aren’t necessarily doing is instituting adequate policies to ensure those devices aren’t compromising security or (and perhaps more likely) racking up huge service and application costs that the business may ultimately pay for.
Following are some of the best practices on where a business can start. There are two main parties companies need to be thinking about—their carriers and their employees.
Dealing with Carriers
Understand your company profile: Many companies are adamantly tied to unlimited data plans. However, oftentimes total usage doesn’t come close to meeting the limits of the more restricted options. Take a look at user activity—a few may use scores of data while the majority sticks to voice, for example. Consider establishing a tiered plan to align better with employee activity.
Find out how data pooling for family plans will impact your business: There’s a lot of talk among carriers to take data pooling from the business setting to the consumer. Carriers like Verizon and AT&T are publicly stating that it’s probable data pooling will be introduced on family plans. For businesses already spending on selected voice and data activity for employees with personal devices, this makes an already complex environment more complicated. Have a telecom expense management system in place that monitors these contracts and expenses on a case-by-case basis.
Plan ahead for technology advancements: While the average contract period for a mobile device is two years, new versions of devices are hitting the market at a much faster pace and consumers are breaking contracts to upgrade to the latest and greatest device. Negotiate with your provider for earlier hardware upgrades to avoid unnecessary fees.
Managing Employee Mobility
Policy: Your mobile usage policy should be updated, reviewed, and signed by employees annually, at a minimum. And don’t forget about new hires. They should see it as soon as that Blackberry hits their palm and apps are downloaded onto their tablet.
Device End-of-Life and Recycling: As noted previously, new and improved mobile devices are hitting the market frequently, and so device turnover is high. Another consideration for end-of-life devices is to ensure they are wiped, locked, and removed from network connectivity access in a timely manner as an important security measure. There are options to recover the device’s residual value by implementing a recycling program.
Enterprise Application Stores: App stores present employees with enterprise-approved applications for download/installation from either the client or a self-service portal. This ensures that high-risk apps are prohibited from entering the network.
As mobile expenses are quickly rising to the top of expense lists among small businesses, ensure your company is actively curbing these costs. Implementing telecom expense and mobile device management permits proper ground-rules without losing productivity benefits.