Veteran retailer Sears has some 1500 mobile lines they manage for their contract drivers. An area of the business that experiences a considerable amount of employee turnover, deactivating, reactivating, and reassigning devices to new hires is an operational nightmare. Every step of the way can involve multiple phone calls or emails to their service provider, causing considerable delays and greatly impacting the company’s bottom line.
And it’s not just retailers that are affected. Tech giant Facebook has a similar challenge. One telecommunications manager shared frustration around taming this mobile monster, stating most of the time, the company has no idea of their mobile spend until they receive an invoice. As you can imagine, Facebook employees are heavy data users and, every month, Facebook may be accruing thousands of dollars in data overages they weren’t expecting. "Overages are like a disease—you don't know you have it and then boom! it is too late," said a Facebook employee who oversees its telecom contracts.
Deloitte Canada has had similar struggles. Employing roughly 4000, many of who frequently travel, and a substantial number of them forget to add a travel plan when they do so. “We have to go back and add travel plans, verify if they were prorated and often end up disputing charges,” explains a Deloitte employee.
While there are a range of mobile enterprise tools and services, mobility management often remains reactive and unscalable.
To tackle the problem, Cisco Jasper is today announcing its Control Center for Mobile Enterprise, a platform that expands its IoT management services to the realm of enterprise mobility.
The solution, which is an extension of the Cisco Jasper Control Center IoT service platform, provides businesses with faster delivery of services, lower operational costs and predictable telecom bills. Control Center for Mobile Enterprise is directly integrated with service provider networks and systems, enabling real-time usage visibility, automated cost control and enterprise-grade self-serve management of mobile services and assets.
“Management of any connected device consists of common challenges like unpredictable service costs and inefficient management processes, and this is especially true for business mobile phones and tablets,” said Macario Namie, Head of IoT Strategy at Cisco Jasper. “Cisco Jasper has partnered with over 50 service providers worldwide to enable enterprises to automatically connect and manage their IoT services, and now we are extending the same proven capabilities to business mobile devices.”
Enterprises have provided their employees with mobile devices like smartphone and tablets for well over a decade now, yet the management of these devices and services remains largely reactive and manual, with little use of technology and automation. The result is anything from delayed services, surprise telecom charges, high operational and support costs, and a poor employee experience.
“Our customers were demanding this. This problem has existed since Blackberry times,” shared Pallavi Vanacharla, Head of Product Marketing at Cisco Jasper. “There are Bandaid-type approaches to solving this, but we are eliminating these pain points at the root.”
Currently, to mobilize its workforce, a company signs a contract for two to three years. Along with this contract, the service provider typically gives them a few different portals — viewing their bills and managing individual lines — just like a consumer would get. The challenge is that they were never really designed for the enterprise. “This might work for a few employees, but when you have tens of thousands of lines, that approach of managing one line at a time is unscalable,” says Vanacharla.
Enterprises often have third-party tools on top of the tools they get from their service providers. The first one might be a telecom expense management tool like Tangoe or Calero. “In spite of all of these tools, the basic needs are not being met,” explains Vanacharla. “When I talk to customers, three common pain points keep coming up. The first one is manual operations. Every step involves a phone call or an email to the customer care team of the telecom company. It is a very manual way of managing these large numbers of devices. The second pain point is the lack of visibility. The third thing I hear about is reactive fixes. None of the enterprises can figure out what is going to happen in the future. There is no way to predict employee behavior, and so companies are forced to react to what has happened.”
Cisco Jasper is initially introducing Control Center for Mobile Enterprise in Canada, in partnership with Canadian national telecommunications company TELUS. The company is offering the platform to its business customers as part of its new business mobility solution, TELUS IQ Smart Mobility Management.
“In a couple of years, there will be nearly one billion mobile business lines, according to IDC, which will be served by more than 2000 mobile service providers,” Vanacharla says, citing GSMA statistics in the latter figure. “We have ten plus years of experience managing connectivity, and we have a technology that is unique. I have yet to see anything like this in the mobility space.”