From The Expert Feature Article
November 03, 2014

Five Questions to Ask When Considering Managed Mobility Services

The increasing use of mobile devices and apps is claiming an increasing share of enterprise IT spending, as indicated by a Forrester survey published in February 2013. Thirty-seven percent of surveyed global IT executives and technology decision-makers expected a significant impact on their firms’ IT spending, while 34 percent expected a moderate impact.

Outsourced Managed Mobility Services (MMS) can offer economies of scale that reduce the cost of mobility management and ease some of the growing pressure on IT leaders.  MMS can also enable organizations to focus more tightly on core functions, and as a result, create more value. The managed service model for mobility seems to be taking hold – but is it right for everyone?

Managed Mobility Services: A Primer

What is a “managed service”?

When an external service provider manages and delivers a service to an enterprise, typically under some sort of Service Level Agreement, this arrangement is called a managed service (or outsourced management). Managed services are usually provided based on a subscription model, or based on key volume or performance metrics—checks processed, calls managed, orders taken—and in the case of enterprise mobility, based on the number of devices managed or users supported.

Where do managed services tend to work best?

A business can be considered a collection of core and non-core functions. The core functions are central to creating the products and services that the business sells. They create the core value that the company offers its customers. The non-core functions are essential to run the business, but they’re not the primary value that the company delivers. To win in a competitive environment, businesses need to manage and execute both core and non-core functions better than their competitors.

So, what’s the best way to do everything better than everyone else? Doing everything internally, and learning to do it all better than everyone else is an option. Another option is to focus on core functions while outsourcing non-core functions to specialists. If you choose the right vendors and manage everyone effectively, you could have several outsourced teams of experts doing what they do best, resulting in peak competency and efficiency across all functions.

What to outsource?

This simple grid illustrates the outsourcing decision-making process:

Functions that are key business differentiators and critical to operations should be kept in-house. Functions that are critical to operations, but provide little or no differentiation, are ideal for outsourcing to a managed service provider. Functions that provide differentiation but are not essential to operations represent strategic partnering opportunities. Functions that make little contribution to operational performance and are low in strategic importance should be put on a starvation diet.

Managed Services—Big Benefits

Opting for managed services can bring clear benefits to the enterprise:

  • Increased coverage for new technologies: Mobile technology’s fast pace of evolution creates useful innovations that can help drive competitive advantage. Enterprises can speed up the adoption of these new technologies by opting for managed services that embrace technological change, rather than acquiring the resources on their own.
  • Instant access to diverse skill base: Deploying managed services also provides access to experts who can accomplish the task more efficiently and effectively by having a better and more focused understanding of the underlying technology involved, user pain points, service issues and support needed.
  • Increased budget flexibility: Implementing managed services also provides financial flexibility in terms of reduced costs on hardware, operations, services, facilities, personnel and training. Internal capabilities are also not overstretched, offering predictability and stability in work and budgets.
  • Enhanced business adaptability: Services and service providers are adaptable. They can quickly be added or adjusted in line with changes in business and economic conditions to stay competitive and profitable, while the business stays focused on core capabilities.

Is Enterprise Mobility Right for the Managed Service Approach?

Revisiting the outsourcing decision grid, we can see that although managing enterprise mobility is increasingly critical to business operations, it is typically not a key business differentiator. It should be a good candidate for the outsourced approach. Below are some specific characteristics of enterprise mobility management to consider.

  • Rapidly evolving, complex technical environment: Most enterprises already have thousands of employees using their own smart devices to access corporate email, networks, data and applications, whether they’re managed or not. Building in-depth knowledge of all of these hardware and management tools, including devices, OSes and MDM variations, is beyond most IT department capabilities. On top of that, there are dozens of solutions available for managing devices, mobile apps, telecom expenses, app stores and more. And all of these systems are being introduced and upgraded at an incredible pace. Engaging a managed service provider with a dedicated staff of experts whose mission is to stay on top of this diversity of systems could have real advantages.
  • Scarce technical skills: Whenever new technologies are introduced, the number of individuals with deep expertise is quite limited. This increases the difficulty of building your own internal team of experts. Building a team from scratch often comes at a higher cost for the enterprise than outsourcing. It is estimated that the per-device cost incurred for in-house mobility management is about 40 percent higher than that for managed services.
  • Operational efficiencies that come with scale: If you do manage to build a team that can master dozens of operating systems, platforms and management systems, can you use your team efficiently? If you’re supporting just a few thousand users and devices, you may be paying for expert knowledge and a support infrastructure that’s only being used a fraction of the time. Managed service providers, with established service centers, have the systems in place and volume of activity to maximize the utilization of everyone on the team—no waste makes for a lower management cost per device.
  • Ability to scale: How do you build a team that can respond quickly to cyclical and unplanned changes in devices, OSes, and related technologies? What about provisioning and deployment requirements for mobile devices? A managed service provider can enable you to keep up with fluctuations in your business’s and users’ needs.
  • 24x7 service capability: This is another area where scale makes a difference. Many enterprises would be hard-pressed to offer a 24x7x365 support team with adequate breadth and depth of knowledge. A well-established service provider should offer this coverage as a matter of course.
  • Global, multi-language support: Once again, scale makes a difference. For enterprises that have operations and employees spread all over the globe, building business support for their devices can be extremely challenging and costly. However, a fully staffed mobile service center can handle the load more efficiently in combination with other clients.

Five Questions to Ask When Looking for an Enterprise Managed Mobility Service Provider

Now that you understand the benefits and characteristics of managed services, how do you find the service provider that best suits your needs? Here are a few questions to ask:

1.Who provides the service?

Some managed service providers claim deep expertise and global coverage but manage to deliver only in partnership with other service providers. For a more seamless experience, and to ensure that your users, devices and infrastructure are being managed well, it’s best to find a service provider with the bench strength to support your company’s needs organically.

2.Do they have the needed depth and breadth of expertise?

You’ll want to do some homework here. Reach out to your MDM vendor to find out what kind of relationship they have with the managed service provider. Do they have the breadth of capability to keep up with your growth? Do they just manage devices, or can they take care of the whole mobile device life cycle: procuring, provisioning, kitting, staging, refresh and warranty, break-fix? Can they provide a higher level of service for VIPs? A few managed service providers actually build and manage mobile application solutions as well as offer managed mobility services. If you need to field and manage mobile applications, you’ll want to consider the advantages of integrated management and security for apps as well as devices.

3.What are their processes for excellence in service delivery?

Seasoned service providers will have invested the time and resources to implement stringent quality controls and processes to ensure that service and security are maintained at the highest levels. Look for key quality measures like ISO certifications and other well-recognized industry standards.

4.What are their Service Level Agreements and how do they measure up?

Your relationship with your managed service provider will likely be governed by a detailed operations plan and clearly defined Service Level Agreements (SLAs)– at least it should be. Ask to review your managed service provider’s existing SLAs, and ask to review performance records. Do they meet or exceed their SLAs, or do they fall behind?

5.Can they scale?

You’ll want to think about more than a managed service provider’s ability to support your current organization. What about future growth? Mergers and acquisitions? Does the service provider have the ability to support you on a global scale? Are they well-versed in the legal, security, privacy and governance requirements that vary from country to country? This is especially important if you’re supporting BYOD users.

Assess Your Mobile Maturity

Deciding whether or not to provide mobility services for your users in-house, or as an outsourced managed service, needs to be carefully considered in light of the technological complexity and speed of change in the mobile environment.

As you consider your options, remember that the cost of providing managed mobility services in-house is typically 40 percent higher than relying on a managed service provider. Is there a compelling reason for you to keep those services in-house, or will your company and users be better served by outsourcing mobility and focusing on your core business?

Sam Ganga, Executive Vice President, Commercial Division, DMI.  Under Mr. Ganga’s leadership, DMI’s Commercial Division has developed the world’s most comprehensive set of Mobile Enterprise Solutions, including mobile strategy, mobile managed services, mobile app solutions and integrated vertical solutions for retail, financial services and healthcare. The group has more than 500,000 mobile devices under management, and has developed more than 400 mobile applications in the last 12 months. DMI Commercial Division also offers Big Data Insights solutions that provide better insight, for better decisions, and better performance to leading Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining DMI, Ganga was the founder and President of Leverent Consulting, a professional services company that provided technology solutions to commercial and government clients.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi