We know from the past, that each new generation of mobile network and devices, brings greater opportunities for businesses to improve productivity and supports increased levels of mobile and flexible working. 4G networks and smartphones have transformed our ability to work remotely and 5G will continue that trend, but also enable more reliable, secure and innovative ways of communicating and working.
However, as with 4G, many businesses can’t initially see the clear business case for upgrading their existing devices and network agreements to 5G, especially when that upgrade comes at a premium. And as 4G, it is likely to initially be the individuals in businesses rather than the IT teams that are pushing for 5G devices and SIMS. This creates a new set of challenges for IT teams, on how to fund, support and manage usage, costs and security on these new devices, and with 5G the challenges are likely to be greater than ever before.
At Utelize Mobile, we believe that a possible answer to these challenges lies in developing a new device and network funding strategy, where businesses and users start to migrate towards a “shared liability” or “shared responsibility” model. In this model, both the business and user agree fair and reasonable device security and usage policies and also make a shared financial contribution towards the costs of a single device and service, that supports both business and personal requirements.
Arriving at the right mobile strategy for each business will involve discussion around different variants of this shared liability model. In some instances the user will bring their own device and allow corporate usage (i.e. a more traditional BYOD environment); in others the business will take the lead, with the user being provided an option to pay a monthly ‘enabler’ charge to gain access to a premium device or an upgraded data plan that is suitable for personal usage, also knowm as a Corporate Owned Personally Enabled model.
However, before businesses can objectively develop the right long term strategy, it’s critical that they evaluate their current position. This involves ensuring that the business has a clear understanding of the current mobile estate inventory, detailed expenditure analysis for devices and network and an in depth view of usage profiles across all users.
The positive news for most businesses that currently pay for corporate mobiles (‘corporate liable’), is that such an evaluation is likely to uncover signifcant hidden cost savings and new opportunites to streamline support. Enabling IT decision makers to quickly free up overstretched IT teams and release budget, regardless of whether the business is currently in contract with its mobile provider. Most businesses can expect such an evaluation to identify opportunties to release 20 – 30% in overspending on their corporate mobile services and device costs, and even those that are locked into term contracts, can quickly release 15% or more from optimising their mobile estate.
Understanding the New 5G Mobile Challenges
From this detailed evaluation, it is common to find that a number of core challenges will start to come to light. It is the convergence of these challenges, as we migrate from 4G to 5G networks, that is having a significant and growing impact on mid-market and enterprise businesses. Challenges that are also set to dramatically increase ‘corporate’ mobile costs and create more IT administration for businesses that fail to implement a proactive and strategic approach to mobile network, device, usage and security management.
Challenge 1: The Mobile Device Strategy – finding the right balance between corporate funded mobile devices and airtime and BYOD or ‘shared liability’ models, whilst also considering the impact on IT support teams, HR and usage policies, security and personal privacy.
Challenge 2: Increasing and Uncontrolled Mobile Costs – whilst contract negotiations often deliver short term relief from increasing costs, most businesses invariably see costs start to quickly grow and many fail to ever see projected savings delivered to their P&L, leading to increased pressure on stretched budgets and reduced cash for IT investment.
Challenge 3: Increasing mobile security, data leakage, GDPR and compliance risks – increasing pressure to deploy mobile security services and to ‘control’ devices, leading to growing IT security and support costs, especially in regulated markets and professional services firms.
Challenge 4: Increasing IT Support – as more users start to work remotely and mobile IT becomes the primary way of working, already overstretched IT are placed under greater pressure to support user mobile requests, security and network administration. This change in working, coupled with balancing personal and business needs will require businesses to think carefully about their IT support model.
Challenge 5: Exponentially Increasing mobile data consumption – driven by faster 4G and 5G networks, more capable devices, increased adoption of cloud services, and increased use of video (across social media, streaming and from unified communications and workplace collaboration tools). All leading to greater usage and tariff management challenges and increased airtime costs, coupled with the risk of more frequent “bill shock” both domestically and abroad.
Whilst not all of these challenges will apply equally to all businesses, most will have significant relevance to larger businesses with 100 or more mobile users.
IT and Finance decision makers that are open to the notion that their organisations will need to develop a new approach to mobile management to effectively migrate to a 5G world, will be the ones that will see the largest benefits on their businesses and their IT budgets from doing so.
Those organisations will also be the ones that are most likely to quickly discover that their current approach to mobile management and procurement may be more reactive than they initially believed. Which in turn may be supporting an environment that is hiding large levels of overspending and cost savings (i.e. supplier profits) that can now be quickly released; helping to fund future investments in 5G services and devices and other IT transformation projects.