As the opportunities for employees to work remotely expand, businesses must make significant investments in maintaining contracts with carriers such as Verizon or AT&T for plans and mobile devices in order to support enterprise mobility. Failure to do so can easily put a huge dent in revenue, says Justin G. Castillo, partner at Levine, Blaszak, Block & Boothby, LLP, who presented recently at Interop New York.
“Mobile can make the enterprise more productive, flexible, responsive and engaged,” Castillo states. But “from a practical standpoint, the management of mobility is difficult.”
According to Castillo, there are four major aspects of an effective enterprise mobility program: pricing, risks and exposure, management and maximizing value.
The first step in getting the best pricing is considering wireless requests for proposal (RFPs), or documents that help draw out bids from potential carriers. The best way to choose the right proposal is by understanding a business’ volume of lines and mobile devices usage, Castillo says. RFPs also allow a company to leverage carriers against each other and can be completed in four to five months, he adds.
Another tip to get better pricing options or discounts is to consider a consolidated deal for wireline and wireless offerings. AT&T and Sprint currently offer deals that support consolidation. However, Castillo warned, AT&T also imposes dual penalties such as early termination fees.
Castillo adds that the best practices for pricing include asking the carrier to provide one model of the mobile and data card at no cost, require a quarterly rate plan optimization analysis and ask for clearly defined pricing formulas.
Pooling — a plan where multiple devices share the amount of minutes, text or data used — may cost less then plans with a flat rate, he points out. Carriers also offer data cross-pooling across multiple mobile devices.
Specifically, for the messaging portion of plans, Castillo recommends a negotiation that would allow free messaging to users who do not message a lot and unlimited as an add-on for those who do.
Lower rates for international data and tablet plans are becoming more common. Based on use, companies may be able to negotiate, according to Castillo. Also, negotiating no monthly charges for international calling plans from the beginning is cheaper than a global or add-on international plan, he says.
In addition to negotiating better deals and maintaining an enterprise mobile contract with a carrier, cutting costs in-house also can be a huge money-saver, Castillo says. Banning and canceling extra services or packages such as mobile purchases, roadside assistance, enhanced voicemail, non-subsidized equipment purchases and navigation services will help maintain a reasonable operating cost for mobile enterprise, he explains.
Castillo recommends putting high users into a pool with unlimited talk, text or data. International voice users must also have the appropriate talk feature and a reliable plan for usage. All phones that have zero usage must be shut down in order to avoid zero-use fees, he stresses.
Contracts with plan carriers must be maintained annually as technology evolves and rates change, Castillo notes. Each policy must address employee behavior for liability reasons, such as prohibiting using a mobile device while driving. Policies must also address data security and privacy and minimizing operational costs.
Another way to cut costs is allowing employees to bring and purchase their own device. Bring your own device (BYOD) gives employees the flexibility to log onto company email or web portals on their own mobile devices at any time.