Category Archives: Mobility

Managing Today’s Mobile Projects - Part 1: An MMS Partner is Critical to Success

 

Stratix Blog 1

Over the 16 years, I’ve covered enterprise mobility I can identify three distinct eras of enterprise mobile computing. This first, the pre-iPad era running from 2001 to 2009, we can now think of as ancient history. Some might argue that the ancient history ended in 2007 when the original iPhone was introduced, but this isn’t true. It was the combination of the iPad and the generation of iPhones that emerged in 2010 that were the critical mobile game changers.

Next are the middle ages covering 2010 to 2014, a five year period that saw the real foundation of enterprise mobility – mobile devices, wireless communications/bandwidth and mobile software capabilities – fall into place. Finally, we have the era we now live in, the Renaissance…in the truest sense of the word – enterprise mobility rebirth.

Rebirth? Yes. Despite the many exciting business transformation promises of anytime, anywhere capabilities mobility brought to enterprises and regardless of BYOD and how many pioneers sought to gain business advantages through it, mobile technology as a key enterprise enabler went through a slow slog of growth. It left many enterprise mobile researchers wondering if mobility would ever become as transformative as we kept predicting it would be.

In 2015 that all changed – suddenly and quickly. In what I define as a true mobile inflection point a great many businesses across every possible vertical market had the sudden and urgent realization that despite apparently slow enterprise mobile adoption there was substantial – in fact enormous – progress being made at those companies that had chosen to embrace mobile technology early on.

To read the rest of this blog post please head over to the blog section of Stratix, where the blog post is provided in full.

 

Posted in General Industry, Blog, Internet of Things, IT Infrastructure, Mobility, Telecom Expense Management, Enterprise Risk Management | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Do Not Let Tech Disruption Kill Your TEM Investments!

tr1From my decades-long perch as an observer of leading edge technology (no kidding – I used to write a column called The Observatory for Internet World back in the day – hmm, in fact I may revive it) I have witnessed many technology-driven business transformations. Some of those transformations were driven by “killer apps” of course, and some emerged over a fairly lengthy period of time.

Over time? Yes – think for example of the “Year of the LAN” mantra many of us witnessed from 1990 – 1992. I believed in it so much I left Microsoft to become part of the startup team for a tech journal dubbed Network Computing (NWC as we fondly knew it) in 1990 to capture the moment. The truth of the matter, however, is that we never had a year of the LAN. Rather it sneaked up on us and one day in 1993 we all woke up to discover that sure enough, we were all LAN-enabled – it had become the “age” of networking. Interestingly, NWC’s own journey echoed that path – we floundered financially (well, we broke even anyway) from 1990-1992 but then became highly charged and immensely relevant once LANs and networking technology became pervasive and business-transforming.

I can say the same for mobile technology. I became a mobile research pioneer (along with a small handful of other brave souls) back in 2002-2003, anticipating a revolution driven by enterprise mobility. Eleven years later, in 2013-2014, enterprises finally woke up to the strategic uses of mobility and are now finally driving the age of mobility.

That bit of personal history now brings me to another technology – Telecom Expense Management (TEM) – that is finally undergoing a unique renewal, at least among some of the more savvy industry players. Now let me be quite honest…some of us – ok, I – have long thought of TEM as the green eye shades end of technology. By this I mean a sleepy cohort of accountant-types reviewing endless wireline, landline and fax expenses, telecom bills, and analysis driven in large part by offloading most of the number-crunching and report generation to TEM vendors.

A somewhat more modern era of TEM began to emerge in parallel with the emergence of the Internet and Web yet the core functionality of “green eye shades TEM” remained essentially unchanged. Yet another age of TEM began to emerge in parallel with the maturing of smartphones, tablets and cellular-equipped laptops but the core functionality of TEM remained entirely unchanged. For me it has long been the case that just as history does green eye shades TEM simply likes to repeat itself. It was safe and reliable to stay the course.

It didn’t help the pace of TEM change that, as I noted earlier, enterprise mobility took over a decade to become relevant at a large enterprise scale. Sure, we had lots of technology change but the changes were not disruptive to businesses but merely evolutionary. Mobile-driven disruption has tended to occur on the consumer side – it did after all give us BYOD. Business technology however generally moved forward incrementally rather than disruptively.

Dig a little deeper into the TEM space and it is utterly clear that TEM has undergone a very long term evolution of incremental improvements since the 1990s but it has never needed to deliver business services that required it to be disruptive in any real sense. Traditional TEM capabilities – green eye shades TEM – have continued to serve businesses well.

 

But…The TEM Times are A’Changin’ at a Supercharged Pace

Ah, but the safe harbor of incremental TEM technology improvements suddenly disappeared over 2013 and 2014. Actually and more accurately it became disrupted.

Enterprises found their way to becoming fully mobile-aware, cloud-driven infrastructure and services adoption (ITaaS and MaaS) grew at lightning speed, big data became really big, and the Internet of Things (IoT) became not only real but profoundly real. Under the covers processors and memory became many orders of magnitude faster and richer in capabilities, and newer technologies such as software defined networks (SDN, SD-WAN), in-memory databases, business intelligence/analytics and machine learning all became enterprise-ready – and deployed.

“Real time” literally became real time…in the moment, of the moment, at the moment. Even simple decision making became disruptive – and a strategic advantage.

These technologies, among others I haven’t noted, suddenly became highly disruptive in nature and began driving enterprises to rapidly adopt the technologies and adapt to the fast-paced technology changes taking place. Enterprises that are seeking to embrace today’s new technologies – and in particular those companies that recognize that today’s technology disruption cycle makes it vital for them to do so – are now declaring “green eye shades TEM” as inadequate for meeting the needs of today’s transformative business ecosystems.

The TEM market in turn suddenly found itself in need of stepping up and greatly broadening its own capabilities, especially in the wake of realizing that there is now  a wealth of new opportunities to extend its services beyond core green eye shades TEM to managed mobility and IT Expense Management (ITEM). The industry’s key association, TEMIA, is itself in the process of defining ITEM and the significant shift it entails for businesses.

History is actually beginning to change for TEM instead of repeating itself. Blue Hill Research has noted these emerging opportunities for TEM vendors – which now includes the need to seamlessly monitor and manage recurring telecom, IT and mobility expenses, including the emergence of IoT expense management.

Our research team has taken a strong stab at looking underneath the covers of what it takes to transform from TEM to ITEM – check out “Applying TEM Best Practices to Optimize Your Cloud Investments” for the inside look on this.It provides a great blueprint to assemble the right enterprise strategy to ensure both your TEM and cloud platforms are fine-tuned for both your present and future needs.

We’ve also been investigating which TEM vendors are best positioned to take advantage of this wave of technology disruption and emerging opportunities for their own business growth. We’ll deliver a research report in the near-future on it.

I’ll wrap this up by also elaborating slightly on the two acronyms I casually dropped earlier – ItaaS and MaaS. “IT as a Service” is a useful term to define the general underlying platforms TEM vendors are now launching to meet the challenges of transforming from TEM to ITEM vendors. In great part this is important as well because a key enterprise consideration for TEM vensor-driven ITaaS is to deploy it to optimize enterprise investments in cloud computing. I recently delivered a webinar on this topic for Calero’s Calero World 2017– check it “Utilizing TEM Best Practices to Optimize Your Cloud Investments (http://connect.calero.com/utilizing-tem-best-practices-optimize-investment).”

“Mobility as a Service” is the emerging means of describing the end to end Managed Mobility Services (MMS) solutions vendors such as Stratix are now deploying. More on this in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

Posted in Analytics, Blog, Internet of Things, IT Infrastructure, Mobility, Telecom Expense Management | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Making Mobile Device Decisions…

question-1889416_960_720Note: This blog is the eighth in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Analyst at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.

As summer winds down, enterprises are preparing themselves for the next round of new device releases. That’s because mobile technology manufacturers like Apple and Google choose to unveil revolutionary gadgets and innovations around this time every year. How can your business be sure it’s choosing the best new IT assets for enabling workforce productivity?

For many companies, evaluating different mobile devices feels a lot like comparing apples and oranges—each vendor’s technology has unique feature sets and capabilities that not everyone finds useful. Without a tried-and-true evaluation plan or strategy in place, it’s easy for enterprise mobility programs to lose focus on what’s most important or be paralyzed by complexity while trying to make a new device decision. If your business needs to pick the perfect new IT asset, pay special attention to these four areas:

1.     Security

New technology has the potential to transform companies and disrupt entire industries, but if it compromises corporate security policies or compliance efforts, nobody will ever adopt it. Remote data wipe capabilities are a must-have in today’s digital business landscape; otherwise, what happens if a mobile device is lost or stolen and ends up in the wrong hands?

In addition to remote wiping, make sure any newly implemented technology securely manages data transfers and enforces adequate encryption controls. Today’s devices consume and communicate more data than ever before, so businesses need to be prepared for never-before-seen security challenges and network traffic levels.

2.     Support

Brand-new technology can also mean big trouble for end-user support efforts, especially when it comes to procurement and device management tasks. Make sure mobile devices align with a mobility program’s strategy and vision before undertaking any implementation process.

Communication is also more essential to enterprise success than ever, so looking for HTML5-compatible technology is a wise use of resources. This platform-agnostic language isn’t just the foundation of the Open Web Platform; it also incorporates standard web technologies to facilitate cross-platform applications that work across almost any device type.

3.     Data Syncing

Not all companies are created equal—some limit device online activity while others couldn’t care less about it. Some new mobile devices remedy this issue by offering online/offline sync capabilities, which allow workers to record data offline, sync a device to a network, and update that network’s records once connectivity is re-enabled.

Data capture requirements can also come into play. Do employee mobile devices need to be able to scan barcodes, capture information with a camera, or perform bulk changes? If the answer is yes, try to remember that not all new technologies have the capabilities required to meet these demands.

4.     Work Environment

A mobile device’s physical qualities certainly influence the outcome of enterprise technology decisions. If a touchscreen display is too small or isn’t intuitive to use, for example, businesses probably won’t choose to use that particular device. However, the working conditions this technology is regularly exposed to must also be considered. Depending on how harsh a company’s work environment is, employees may need nearly indestructible hardware to successfully perform their jobs.

Is Wi-Fi or cellular network coverage always available? When are employees most likely to use this device? Will users repeatedly expose this device to dust, dirt, water, chemicals, or extreme weather conditions? These are just a few questions you need to think about when reviewing and/or adopting new devices.

You’ve put each potential device through a rigorous evaluation process and finally found your program’s perfect fit. So, now what? How can you use this new technology to drive productivity gains?

Focus on Individual Users

It’s easy to overlook individual users when making tech decisions for an entire organization. However, employees that feel like their personal values, strengths, opinions, and ideas are recognized and appreciated at work are more likely to exert extra effort and consistently achieve at the upper end of their potential.

Modern mobile devices not only help companies identify and optimize workers’ natural talents, but also cultivate the skills, experience, and knowledge necessary to actualize a workforce’s full potential. These devices enable people to work non-traditional schedules from anywhere, maximizing individual productivity by allowing employees to work when they’re most motivated and prepared.

Increase Strategy-Oriented Workloads

Employees who see their work make a meaningful difference are much more likely to be committed and engaged. That means the more strategic the workload, the more productive the employee.

Mobile devices ensure constant employee connectivity and communication, giving workers clarity when it comes to enterprise expectations, vision, and goals. By leveraging a Mobility Management Platform (MMP), an organization improves enterprise visibility and decision-making by streamlining mundane tasks, allowing employees to focus exclusively on big-picture responsibilities instead.

Prioritize Employee Education

If managed properly, new technology can lead to increased enterprise productivity. If it isn’t, expect information overload instead. Fortunately, peer coaching, networking, and mentoring is much more likely with mobile devices involved because these devices provide a constant outlet for communication.

These new devices also aid employee education efforts. In addition to monitoring policy compliance and managing end-user behavior, mobile phones can store and access training resources from anywhere at any time—keeping workers accountable, current, and efficient.

The next generation of smartphones is almost upon us; is your business ready to make a decision?

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The Unified Endpoint Management Mindset: How to Prepare for the Future of IT

UnifiedEndpointManagement

Note: This blog is the seventh in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Analyst at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.

Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) has the potential to revolutionize the way enterprises approach the complex problem of managing not only traditional wireless assets such as tablets and mobile devices, but also laptops, desktops, and next-generation IT categories such as wearables, sensors, and Internet of Things (IoT)-networked devices. As such, UEM has earned its place as a noteworthy enterprise mobility buzzword.

What does UEM encompass, and how can your organization seek out a solution that uses automation and a technology-first, software approach to support the future of enterprise IT? In this blog, we break down the buzzwords to explain the core value that is delivered when organizations manage their IT assets with a unified, comprehensive strategy rather than taking a siloed or departmental approach.

What is UEM?

Simply put, UEM unites all IT assets and endpoints within a common, centralized, and software-driven management platform that uses technology and automation to track, manage, and optimize an enterprise’s entire IT portfolio. UEM platforms help unify and support an enterprise’s program resources, policies, and technologies, and address the need for a single source of truth by bringing a wide range of IT assets into a centralized platform. Through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs), UEM platforms integrate with a wide range of management tools, existing enterprise software systems, and third-party technical platforms to better control and drive value from IT assets. At its core, UEM is about viewing all IT assets as part of a broader business strategy, rather than a separate technology category.

The UEM Benefit

Adopting a Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) platform provides numerous key benefits, including:

  • Single-solution architecture: A single, software-based platform creates a high degree of corporate visibility and enables employees to access corporate IT usage, expense, and optimization data.
  • Ease of onboarding: A UEM platform allows organizations to push out device requirements, policies, applications, and environments, meaning devices go from out of the box to in use faster and with greater standardization.
  • Security: Similar to onboarding, UEM platforms enable organizations to provision corporate security policies such as encryption, multifactor authentication, applications, and security credentials remotely and before the device is in the hands of the employee.
  • Visibility and improved management: Through a centralized platform for all IT endpoints, enterprises have a single source of truth for monitoring inventory, usage, expenses, security, and potential points of failure. This visibility provides not only opportunities for cost savings, but also the ability to troubleshoot, diagnose, and resolve issues remotely.
  • Prepare for the future of mobility: As IT evolves and organizations increase both the volume and scope of devices under their management portfolios, UEM platforms offer the benefit of complete IT lifecycle automation by addressing the ongoing break/fix, replacement, and upgrade needs of IT technologies.
  • Unified corporate IT environment: All prior UEM benefits mentioned deliver the single greatest advantage of this approach when combined: the creation of a unified corporate environment in which experiences are standardized, managed, and optimized across the organization both on corporate networks and remote devices.

Transitioning to a UEM Mindset

Framing UEM as a new way to think about IT strategy can benefit all organizations, regardless of whether they decide to adopt a UEM technology solution or not. For those organizations that prefer a higher degree of human support and service rather than technology automation, a UEM “mindset” can still provide value – even if there is no UEM platform being leveraged. The UEM approach is simply a move toward creating a more standardized and comprehensive IT environment that is managed and optimized across the organization. It better prepares enterprises for next-generation devices and technology-enabled processes.

In the early days of enterprise mobility, organizations generally took a siloed and departmental approach to procuring, managing, and replacing devices and services within the enterprise. Companies quickly realized, however, that there are cost savings and efficiency gains to be had from approaching mobility at an organization-wide level. The same is now being seen across all of IT.

Time has become an increasingly scarce IT resource, and thus increasingly more valuable. Organizations seek to assign IT time to higher value tasks than sorting through bills or providing generic helpdesk services. Just as organizations have done with mobility, viewing IT as a strategic differentiator or a means of generating value (and even profit) for the organization can enable an enterprise to achieve synergies, efficiencies, and long-term evolution in its technology strategy.

Organizations that approach IT asset management through the lens of UEM are better able to plan for long-term, strategic uses of technology and transition to new business models driven by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) or the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

From expense management to managed mobility services to UEM, enterprise mobility now includes a much broader range of devices and services than past definitions. Regardless of whether your enterprise utilizes a single software platform to manage all IT devices and endpoints or a combination of in-house and third-party solutions, a UEM mindset can prepare your business for the next generation of technology enablement and create a culture in which technology strategy is synonymous with business strategy.

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Virtual Assistants at Work

VirtualAssistantNote: This blog is the sixth in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Analyst at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.

For business owners, good help used to be hard to come by—today it can be found in employees’ pockets. Virtual assistants and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing the way work gets done. By 2021, almost two billion employees will depend on virtual assistants every day.

This trend’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 2011 when Apple debuted the iPhone 4S and its integrated Siri technology. While the original version did little more than set calendar appointments and surf the web, its context-based knowledge repository sparked the interest of other innovators and dawned the current digital age.

Age of the Virtual Assistant

While Siri retains its title as one of the most ubiquitous virtual assistants, there has never been more competition in this increasingly crowded marketplace. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a handful of other tech titans now fight for control over the future of virtual enterprise assistance.

Like any other product, increased competition has created more efficient and effective technology. By combining AI with cloud and cutting-edge software, virtual assistants are rapidly becoming better equipped for business capabilities. Digital helpers are not only processing information and making decisions faster than ever before—they’re doing so with a greater similarity to human language and behaviors, and are increasingly becoming more indistinguishable from humans as the technology improves.

Coupled with an ever-growing mobile workforce, the global adoption of smart mobile devices and applications is only accelerating the need for virtual assistants. In the next few years, Blue Hill estimates that increasingly more of the touchpoints through which consumers and employees interact with their devices will be replaced or supplemented by AI technology. Currently, almost 63% of Americans have already used virtual assistants.

Business Benefits

  • Increased Productivity – Employees are frequently overwhelmed by mundane tasks that bog down daily schedules and that have the potential to derail big-picture project deadlines. Virtual assistants use natural language to take responsibilities like scheduling meetings and managing analytics off workers’ plates, letting them focus instead on core capabilities and satisfying customers. Virtual assistants work whenever their users need them, not just from 9am to 5pm.
  • Optimized Growth – Virtual assistants don’t just help employees; they also benefit a company’s bottom line. Rather than paying salary, insurance premiums, and other miscellaneous expenses required for human employees, a digital aid comes free with most modern mobile devices. That means labor savings can instead be invested back into the business.
  • Simplified Processes – It can be difficult for workers to keep track of multiple meetings and employees’ contact information. Coordinating this information through an administrative assistant or office administrator adds an extra layer of complexity and can make tasks even more time-consuming. A virtual assistant streamlines these processes with an easy-to-navigate interface and instant requests made in natural speech.

A Few Considerations

While virtual assistants don’t change the physical device inventory accessing internal corporate networks, they do add new technology into a mobility program’s mix nonetheless. Like any other product, unknown security exploits and vulnerabilities will inevitably follow this innovation’s enterprise implementation—it is important that corporate IT policies are updated to include and account for any relevant fixes.

If successfully adopted, virtual assistants have the potential to transform an enterprise and guide future workplace automation efforts. With AI and machine learning technology, employee preferences and behaviors are learned by the virtual assistant to provide more personalized, contextual experiences. Your most productive workplace relationship may just be virtual.

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VMware's Industry Analyst Day Highlights Drive Toward "Consumer Simple, Enterprise Secure"

Mobile_Device_Management

Blue Hill attended VMware’s EUC (End User Computing) Industry Analyst Day in Boston on Thursday June 15th. After a morning of presentations, we met in small groups with key VMware EUC executives including Noah Wasmer, SVP Mobile Products, Jason Roszak, Director Product Management, Shawn Bass, VP & CTO for EUC, Courtney Burry, Sr. Director Product Marketing (Desktop), Dave Grant, VP of EUC Product Marketing, and Sumit Dhawan, SVP & GM of EUC.

VMware’s mission of “consumer simple, enterprise secure” was apparent. Despite the relatively complex technical platform enhancements VMware has made – including broadened third party integrations, the inclusion of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing, and a focus on analytics and security – the message overall was one of simplicity and centralization.

VMware aims to transition the majority of its customer base to Workspace ONE – a single, multi-use-case platform for business mobility, workforce mobility, and desktop mobility – by the end of 2017. VMware plans to wrap its Go-to-Market (GTM) integration in the next 3-6 months. Can EUC drive Workspace ONE adoption the rest of the year so that the majority of its customers are in hand? It remains to be seen, as Blue Hill notes that enterprises are at varying stages of device and application management.

Blue Hill has seen that many enterprises are either still fairly new to enterprise mobility (or outright laggards) and are still using early stage solutions such as simple Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) platforms, making the transition to Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) seem some ways away. It will be interesting to watch VMware over the next 6 months to see how this vision plays out.

Companies are beginning to recognize that the security and standardization benefits they achieve for their mobile fleets through an enterprise mobility platform should be applied to other corporate devices such as laptops and IoT equipment as well. Right now, with MDM or MAM solutions, enterprise mobile devices are more secure, standardized, and controlled than laptops or desktop equipment in many cases. VMware’s overarching vision is a move to UEM in which all enterprise IT equipment is managed under its Workspace ONE platform, including support for next generation IT such as wearables, sensors, and IoT equipment. This vision certainly makes sense for where IT and enterprise technology is headed, but how soon VMware will be able to transition its customers away from more familiar MDM and MAM applications remains to be seen.

From a competitive standpoint, VMware is seeing greater threats from players like Microsoft who are offering device and application management solutions built into existing product lines, and thus at a lower price point. However, VMware seeks to differentiate through the strength of its technology to justify the at times higher cost of its platform. Continued enhancements to the platform include support for natural language processing and artificial intelligence to automate much of the process of IT support and issue resolution. Additionally, VMware is expanding third party integration, such as with Salesforce, to offer more seamless workflows in-app, and broadening its cloud support from Azure to AWS and multi-cloud environments. With its acquisition of Apteligent, VMware is placing a much stronger emphasis on app analytics and app performance metrics to drive value.

Finally, relative to my own focus on TEM, an interesting note is where the future of TEM will be considering the moves players like VMware are making into UEM. TEM vendors that are not actively developing strategies around next generation IT, application management, IoT, and centralized, software-first offerings are already far behind the curve and offer limited value to the modern enterprise. The days of call accounting and bill pay as a significant source of IT value are coming to an end as enterprise technology investments scale and the need for a centralized, standardized, and managed device fleet that now includes remote and more complex devices becomes apparent.

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Marlin Equity Partners Will Acquire Tangoe and Merge it with Asentinel – Will it Create a New Global Superpower?

We certainly hope the use of “Global Superpower” in our headline caught your attention. We also hope that it gives pause to consider if such a thing in the Telecom Expense Management and Managed Mobility space is either useful or even possible.

In moving to fully acquire the publicly held, financials-distressed and NASDAQ delisted Tangoe – which we have been waiting on for some time now – Marlin Equity Partners at the very least expects to create something useful. Through combining Tangoe with its other notable TEM portfolio company Asentinel, Marlin also hopes at the very least to create a strong new leader in the emerging next generation of the TEM marketplace – what Blue Hill has dubbed the IT Enterprise Management Space (ITEM).

To read the rest of this report, please fill out the download form.

Teaser

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4TelecomHelp and Juvo Announce Integrated Platform; IoT Enters TEM Conversation in Mid-Market

IoT TEM

On April 4, 4TelecomHelp announced an all-in-one SaaS platform for TEM and WEM called 4-Titan, developed through a partnership with Juvo Technologies. The platform is built for end-to-end telecom and mobility management with a ‘Four Cornerstone’ approach that ties in inventory, contracts, operations, and expenses. 4TelecomHelp has developed and supported a number of standalone platforms over the past decade but will now be able to offer a single, integrated platform to its users. Key takeaway? This comprehensive, centralized approach is well suited to new management categories such as cloud and software licenses, and IoT devices, machinery, and sensors that TEM companies are increasingly being asked to manage. Additionally, the single platform SaaS offering will enable 4TelecomHelp to sell into larger enterprise accounts than the company has typically targeted, as mid-to-large sized companies most often favor an all-in-one managed services approach for telecom and mobility.

In our December 2016 Mid-Market TEM Landscape, Blue Hill noted that 4TelecomHelp primarily targets companies with around $500,000 per month in telecom spend, but has some accounts with as low as $100,000 in monthly spend, and a few larger and Fortune 500 clients as well. Mobile makes up 25-30% of 4TelecomHelp’s business. 4TelecomHelp does not often go head to head against other TEM companies, but will most often compete directly against telecom consulting companies due to its focus on custom engagements and project-based work. With a more comprehensive, single-platform offering through its partnership with Juvo, 4TelecomHelp will be poised to sell to more mid-to-large enterprises, as well as increase its share in mobility.

The 4-Titan platform is aimed at addressing not only current telecom and mobility needs such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) but also future-facing IT management such as for Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices, machinery, and sensors. For TEM vendors to successfully manage new IT categories such as IoT, and cloud and software licenses, they will need to support a platform that brings contracts, invoices, inventory, and usage data together, as 4-Titan is positioned to do. Looking forward, managing and optimizing not only telecom and mobility but also sensors, connected devices and equipment, and cloud and software licenses is where the TEM industry is headed – or at least, in my opinion, where it needs to head.

Also interesting to note is that Juvo and 4TelecomHelp met through TEMIA, the Technology Expense Management Industry Association. A few weeks back, I was in New Orleans at the semi-annual TEMIA meeting along with nearly 40 companies in the TEM and Managed Mobility Services spaces. Part of the conversation at the meeting was centered around how the term Telecom Expense Management is becoming outdated and no longer represents where the industry is headed – or, for some players, where it currently stands. To note this, TEMIA changed its name from Telecom to Technology Expense Management as TEM vendors began supporting a broader range of IT technologies, and companies focused exclusively on mobility began entering the TEM space.

I’m impressed to see a mid-market TEM vendor begin making investments to future-proof its platform for emerging technology categories such as IoT. While large, global TEM vendors are more frequently highlighting their ability to support new IT categories such as cloud and IoT, the trend for TEM vendors to manage additional IT assets and spend is clearly present in the mid-market as well. Based on the conversations I’ve had with TEM vendors and clients through my work with Blue Hill, I’d advise that mid-market TEM vendors begin investing to support new enterprise technologies and IT assets within their platforms in order to remain competitive not only with global TEM vendors but also with smaller, mid-sized, and regional players as well.

Posted in Blog, Internet of Things, Mobility, Telecom Expense Management | 1 Comment

Four Tips for Designing a User Interface

4-user-interfaces

Note: This blog is the third in a monthly co-authored series written by Charlotte O’Donnelly, Research Associate at Blue Hill Research, and Matt Louden, Brand Journalist at MOBI. MOBI is a mobility management platform that enables enterprises to centralize, comprehend, and control their device ecosystems.

Capable software is a powerful competitive business advantage. Without an easy-to-use interface, however, it often fails to make the lasting impact your Information Technology (IT) department expects. Whether your enterprise is designing a User Interface (UI) for the first time or making changes to a preexisting one, be sure to keep these four tips in mind:

Do Your Research

More than anything else, organizations make the mistake of implementing changes and new UI features based solely on what users want. While the intent is admirable, it’s important to remember that a product’s audience brings suggestions to the table, not solutions. User requests can be unreasonable or downright impossible to implement if they fail to understand the scope of work or technology required.

However, that doesn’t mean user feedback should be completely ignored. When properly vetted, it can be a valuable research tool. ESPN.com, for example, increased its overall revenue by 35% after selectively incorporating visitor suggestions into its website redesign.

The first step for any UI project should be conducting thorough, fact-based product management and user experience research. This uncovers the most critical user needs and gives an enterprise definitive rationale for any changes and/or feature additions to be made. Resulting from careful research at this stage, Bing.com generated an additional $80 million in annual revenue by selecting a specific shade of blue for its UI.

After initial research is conducted, protocol-based interviews, paper prototyping, and UI testing can help resolve issues before a new product release even takes place. Development team involvement in these tasks provides additional benefits, as any relevant findings and ideas are properly translated and incorporated into UI design as early as possible. In late-stage user testing, noting any common areas of confusion also ensures the effectiveness of future training efforts.

Focus on Form and Function

UI design involves two separate aspects: interface and workflows. It’s important for an enterprise to anticipate and understand how users will react to changes in both components. In today’s constantly connected digital landscape, full functionality needs to be optimized across all platforms, not just traditional desktop environments. In fact, 83% of users say a seamless experience across platforms is either somewhat or very important to UI design.

While interface changes are immediately visible and create instant, emotional reactions, workflow differences take longer for users to notice and evaluate. In both cases, be sure to sift through initial concerns for any lasting impact that could remain after adjustments are made.

Leaving project calendars clear for at least a few weeks after significant design changes are made prioritizes a product’s user experience and ensures issues can be fixed when they inevitably arise. After all, 52% of users are less likely to engage with a company after a poor user experience.

Take Risks

Fortune favors the bold when it comes to software product design, but unfortunately some companies hesitate to make changes when they’ve already experienced some level of success. Companies can be lulled into complacency, causing them to fall behind the rest of their respective markets.

Undertaking a significant UI update comes with legitimate concerns, but as technology rapidly evolves and changes, the likelihood of product stagnation increases, and its impact becomes potentially more damaging. You may need to inconvenience your user base in the short-term to bring a big payoff down the road.

Even an enterprise giant like Apple takes risks and changes its product in anticipation of future opportunity. After surveying app developers, the company realized that alienating this group would drive revenue to competing platforms and potentially harm the App Store’s future. Despite 40% revenue growth in 2016, it decided to build new analytics tools and update the store’s interface to allow developers to respond directly and publicly to customer reviews.

Remember: No Solution is Perfect

Even the most cutting-edge, revolutionary software developments are met with complaints, so expect them any time a UI is updated or changed. Users are rarely satisfied with changes right away, so remain level-headed when responding, and keep in mind that concerns don’t always indicate a widespread problem.

Few innovations are ideal for an entire user base, so decisions should be made based on evidence and research that identifies critical tasks and the most important design elements. Randomly surveying a target audience not only helps determine the validity of complaints, but provides insight into whether that group truly represents a product’s primary user base.

Before releasing any new UI feature, roll out the improved product to a small user group without notifying them of the change to seek honest impressions and reactions. After further time has passed, contact the users again to gain additional feedback and accurately gauge the success or failure of any updates.

Ultimately, no two UI design projects are created or implemented equally. Careful product and user base research are key to successfully updating or changing software. Though it can be an arduous process, the potential payoff for an organization is huge. Even industry-leading platforms can use the occasional new look.

Posted in Blog, IT Infrastructure, Mobility | 1 Comment

Blue Hill Finds Managed Mobility Services Deliver a Three-Year ROI of 184%

In most areas of business, inaction can be just as impactful as action. Enterprises typically view the cost of not acting as an opportunity cost, or, at most, an indirect bottom line impact. But for enterprise mobility, not acting has both direct and indirect cost implications from lost financial, technical, operational, and strategic value. In fact, the direct monetary cost of not acting is actually higher than the cost of Managed Mobility Services. How can that be? Let’s dig into the numbers…

By Blue Hill estimates, unmanaged direct mobility costs can be 20% overweight compared to a managed environment. For the average billion-dollar revenue company – with $5 – $10 million in telecom/mobility spend – expense management alone can be a million-dollar savings opportunity.

Unmanaged environments generate significant costs from fees (such as late fees or overage charges), as well as service order placement and support. Apart from monetary costs, not acting also presents opportunity costs from lost productivity and technical debt. Potential revenue-generating activities are re-allocated to overhead or administrative tasks, and device downtime is frequent and lengthy. Finally, the enterprise does not have a coordinated, long-term mobility strategy in place, and thus faces strategic costs.

The cost of not acting can be substantial. But what if the enterprise does act, using in-house resources to match the capabilities provided by a third-party MMS vendor? Typically, it will spend more, and receive a lower level of service than an MMS vendor can provide. Between helpdesk, email, security, and invoice management, enterprises devote two-to-three full-time equivalents for every 1,000 devices based on Blue Hill discussions with enterprises. Based on an average annual salary of $63,000 for an entry level telecom engineer, and a 1.3 multiplier for the fully loaded cost of an employee, this results in a labor cost of approximately $164,000 – $246,000 per year.

Cost of Not Acting vs MMS

Direct mobile costs, fees, and service order costs can be reduced somewhat, compared to an unmanaged environment, but at the expense of using IT resources for low-value, high-effort tasks such as resolving carrier disputes or sorting through bills – tasks that are not a core use of IT resources. Finally, in-house support costs are significantly higher than the support costs for Managed Services, as support is often bundled into the MMS contract. To achieve the same level of service in-house would require significant internal support resources. While enterprises may be able to re-create the capabilities of an MMS vendor in-house, they will typically do so at a much higher monetary, opportunity, and employee cost compared to a dedicated MMS vendor.

Managed Mobility Services comes out ahead. Overall, Blue Hill estimates that the direct device and data costs of a standard enterprise can typically be driven down to less than $60 per device per month through a coordinated, well-managed, and effectively-sourced approach. But cost savings are not the most impressive part – more impressive is the return on investment generated over a three-year period by Managed Mobility Services.

Based on conservative Blue Hill estimates, the cost reduction from IT resources and carrier expenses alone can result in a 3-year ROI of 184% based on an assumption of 20% carrier savings in the first year that reduces as the environment is optimized, as well as 50% IT overhead savings. Blue Hill has seen carrier savings in excess of 40% and an elimination of direct in-house IT mobility support, which would increase this ROI substantially. Blue Hill notes that, even with conservative estimates, Managed Mobility Services can provide higher levels of service compared to in-house management, and a three-year ROI ranging from 150% – 450% by reducing monetary, opportunity, and employee costs for the enterprise.

ROI for MMS

There is a clear cost of not acting for Managed Mobility Services. Blue Hill describes this problem in greater detail in our recent report, aptly titled, The Cost of Not Acting for Managed Mobility Services. Blue Hill did the math: Managed Mobility Services provide a higher level of service than in-house or unmanaged environments, while delivering a significant three-year return on investment.

Posted in Blog, Mobility | 1 Comment