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Sprint Hangs Out Consulting Shingle

Every major carrier offers high-speed wireless data plans for enterprises. Sprint wants to break away from that pack by offering mobility consulting services designed to ease customers' wireless data headaches.

After all, one of the biggest pain points in enterprises these days is how to make sense of different wireless devices demanding access to different parts of the company network -- securely. Sprint executives said its Mobile Business Assessment service is a customized and collaborative approach to helping businesses better understand how to wring more value out of wireless and mobility investments.

"We're pretty agnostic about it," said Scott Boehmer, general manager of Sprint's mobile business solutions group. Although Sprint is always happy to suggest its own enterprise wireless data and other business network services, the company realizes that customers have different vendors. "We'll team with systems vendors in core competencies, such as IBM or Siebel, for example," he added, depending on the client's needs.

Boehmer said engagements last between four and eight weeks and consist of three consultative stages. First, the group trouble shoots the problem by collecting the problem data by quizzing employees on pain points and conducting second and third-party research.

Second, the consultants conduct mobility analysis, such as audited equipment, looking over who has access and reviewing access policies, and from there, it develops strategies.

The idea is to provide businesses with "actionable roadmaps" that align their strategies with their business objectives, company executives said.

Ken Wyatt, vice president of integrated solutions for Sprint Business Solutions group, said the offering is targeting the company's three main segments: strategic customers, such as the so-called Fortune 100; enterprise customers, which includes the top 500 companies; and the emerging market group, which pretty much encompasses everyone else not in the top two tiers.

The core team is small by major consulting firms' standards; about 13 key consultants staff the effort. But Boehmer said the group works to pluck the relevant expertise from across Sprint's own roster of networking and services groups in order to bring the right brains to the problem that the consulting group is engaged to help.

"It's a pretty resource-intensive group," Boehmer added. "They'll have access to an extended team of consultants" from within Sprint's different business lines.

Take the case of the holding company whose inconsistent policies for mobile tools access to its corporate network resulted in duplicate costs and efforts on the part of the information technology staff support.

Wyatt said the business solutions group was able to help the customer streamline its devices and access policies. The firm expects to save about 20 percent on this cost alone.

The offer is the latest in a series of "interesting and innovative stuff" coming out of Sprint this year, noted Kitty Weldon, principal analyst covering enterprise mobility for research firm Current Analysis.

"Already, Sprint offers a mobility service that helps enterprise customers do everything from device configuration, security management and asset management. It's also one of the first carriers to launch voice and data service level agreements, making it the only carrier that offers published service level agreements. Other carriers tend to offer them on a custom basis," she added.

This is in addition to adding location information, such as presence and messaging, to existing services.

"Everyone's got a 3G network to offer. The cool stuff is what you can do with that. Take [Sprint merger partner] Nextel's push-to-talk and location-based services," she said. "So Sprint is doing what wireline carriers have offered for some time: services that add value to the network."



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