Eighty percent of enterprises will overspend on their wireless service costs by an average of 15 percent through 2014, according to a recent Gartner study.
As mobility has grown among enterprises, so have costs. Gartner suggests companies will save money and operate more effectively if they get better at managing their mobile voice and data costs.
The report comes at a time when enterprises are increasingly having to deal with a workforce using multiple types of handsets that use different types of operating systems that may or not be sanctioned by mobile IT policy — if there is one.
“Our research shows that the majority of companies are not adequately managing their mobile users or services. They need to look more closely at their key user segments and requirements in order to match those needs with the right services and optimize their spending,” Phil Redman, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.
In the study, Redman highlights four areas companies should focus on in budgeting their wireless costs: contracts, international roaming, mobility management and desktop handset replacement.
On the contract front, Redman says more than 60 percent of mid-size and large companies have moved away from buying individual plans, which are the least efficient in reducing costs.
However, newer services, such as pooling plans, flat-rate plans and zero-minute phones all need to be carefully evaluated to ensure that they are offering maximum value across the organization.
The report also advises companies to move from individual liability plans — where the user is responsible for the payment and contract — to corporate liability plans that allow for better control of costs through the optimization of wireless services and corporate discounting.
Time to reel in roaming costs?
International roaming is another area that should be watched carefully. Through 2010, 10 percent of users who travel abroad will make up 35 percent of the total wireless service costs for companies that support travel, according to the report.
To address this, Gartner recommends companies negotiate with the carrier for roaming cost reductions and look to adopt mobile roaming plans. Another strategy: disallow all ad-hoc use of international wireless data and instead promote the use of smartphones for e-mail or ask carriers for bundles for remote workers.
In regard to mobile management, a proactive policy can help control expenses. Used effectively, mobile policies can help eliminate undesirable practices, such as buying unsupported mobile phones for business use and boost compliance across the organization.
Additionally, if IT staff are overwhelmed, the report advises the use of outsourced services, called telecom expense management (TEM), to provide extensive mobility management services.
Some companies are already beginning to integrate their cellular phones into their corporate system, which can support cost routing for reduced service calls or the elimination of desk phones, according to Redman.
Both are part of fixed mobile convergence (FMC) plans, FMC being the intersection of where fixed and mobile unified communications (UC) meet and share services and functionality.
In this scenario, instead of literally being “chained” to their desk, users will have the freedom of conducting business in a mobile environment but maintain enterprise functionality in the wireless device.