What are Mobile Managed Services?
The modern workforce relies increasingly more on flexibility and being able to work remotely with each passing year. To facilitate this shift, companies must change and adapt to provide their employees with dependable mobile connectivity paired with functionality. Whether this means a company-wide deployment of mobile devices, or leaning on the CYOD device model, this increase of mobile assets means an increased workload for the departments that must manage their operation as well as being an added expense. This management problem is compounded further as more mobile devices are integrated within the company, as it introduces additional platforms and carriers which also need to be managed.
The goal of mobile managed services is to relieve the pressure of this increased workload using a suite of expert tools and resources. They take responsibility for the overwhelming task of providing efficient mobile management for a company’s workforce, allowing them to focus on what’s important.
Mobile Managed Services Defined
Mobile managed services encompass all the actions required to acquire, provision, and support mobile devices. These actions, normally performed by IT and business process management, begin with the planning phase when a company determines their current mobile needs and which devices will best serve them. These devices include smartphones, tablets, purpose-built field service equipment, and wearables. MMS helps a company weigh out the pros and cons of issuing corporate-issued devices as compared to BYOD and CYOD options and steers them toward the option that fits best with the company’s current needs.
Once these details are finalized, the devices must then be procured, provisioned, and activated before they are ready to be put to use by the workforce. An MMS service works to find the best combination of pricing, carrier rates, and features and accessories that will meet the created procurement plan. These devices are then kitted out with the proper applications and software. Should the company be using the BYOD model, these employee-owned devices pass through a dedicated process to ensure enterprise data remains separate and secure from personal data.
While deployed, these devices must be managed, which includes ensuring connectivity to a provider, usage monitoring, and support for mobile applications. Should issues arise, the MMS service already has self-service options, such as hotlines and chatbots, to allow the employee to resolve any difficulty quickly and with a minimal amount of lost productivity.
The final stage of an MMS service for corporate-owned mobile devices revolves around the actions required to retire the device from one user and transfer it to the next, including disconnecting it from the carrier, wiping the memory, reinstalling necessary software, and performing needed updates. If the device is still serviceable for the company, it is reconnected to a carrier and then passed to the next employee. If the company can no longer use it, it is then sold to recoup part of the initial procurement price. For devices that are no longer serviceable, their components are responsibly recycled.
As shown here, the process for bringing a mobile device into service within a company is as complicated as it is multifaceted, requiring cooperation and tracking across multiple departments. Each phase of a device’s use calls for distinct processes to be carried out, starting from planning and procurement, then to management and support, and then finally to the logistics of retirement and reallocation. Without an organized system in place, it’s a huge challenge to ensure that each process is managed appropriately. A mobile managed services provider removes this pressure off of these departments by providing the expertise and tools required to manage multiple device platforms and keep them operationally effective at a competitive price.
The Interconnected Web of Mobile Management
While mobile devices are now considered commonplace, the management systems entering the market to meet a company’s mobile management needs are still relatively new. As a result, there is a tangled web of terms and acronyms relating to the different elements that make up the whole of mobile management systems. Understanding which service handles which aspect of mobile management is important, as they cover distinct needs.
- Mobile Operations Management, sometimes called Mobile Management or Mobility Management, is a system that encompasses all aspects of mobile management. This includes mobile managed services, which maintain a device throughout its lifecycle, as well as unified endpoint services, which is the software and or applications installed on these devices to ensure security, enable tracking, and enforce policies. A mobile management platform will also include services that manage mobile expenses including the ability to audit, allocate, and optimize device and service costs.
- Mobile Managed Services (MMS) also known as Mobile managed services, is the component of mobile management that focuses on the end-to-end mobility lifecycle and includes the procurement, deployment, and day-to-day management of mobile devices and apps, including user support.
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a software agent installed on a smartphone, tablet, or other endpoints that converts the device functionality so that it becomes a dedicated, or single purpose, device. The agent communicates with the MDM server where IT administrators can control, secure, and enforce policies remotely. MDM also protects a company’s sensitive data as all correspondence can be monitored through the agent. Should the device get lost or fall into the wrong hands, IT can wipe its data or lock it out.
- Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) is a step up from MDM software that adds such services as mobile information management, application management, and content management. EMM takes the goals of MDM but creates a more targeted solution that locks down enterprise applications and their associated data, but not the device itself, making it suitable for use with the Bring Your Own Device model.
- Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) – An advancement of the MDM and EMM software which extends the capabilities and platforms available to enterprise management so they all can be managed from a single platform. It replaces both EMM and MDM management tools and provides a single interface to secure mobile applications, share content, enable collaboration, and more. Not only does it manage mobile devices, but endpoints such as desktops, IoT devices, printers, and wearables.
Device Deployment and Depot – Because Speed Matters
Each new advance in technology means an opportunity for a business to get ahead of the competition. As with all competitive edges, the timeliness of getting this technology into the hands of the workforce can make the difference between finding greater success by being an early adopter, versus coming in second. A company-wide technology deployment puts incredible pressure on IT administrators as there is an expectation for ever-increasing speed to stay ahead of the mobility curve. Pair with this the increased complexity of these new assets, evolving security best practices, and the increased diversity within this device market and this type of deployment can soon turn into a massive headache.
At this point, a company must weigh the risk of pulling IT resources away from other essential work to successfully deploy a new wave of mobile devices and/or applications or choosing an external MMS service to shoulder the responsibility. Should IT devote too much time and attention to the deployment, they do so at the risk of ignoring other management tasks. When an experienced MMS provider takes up the responsibilities involved, it not only frees up IT, but it also puts these devices into the hands of the workforce faster as well as streamlines mobility management for the future. An MMS solution can move faster because they already have the processes and providers in place. Their automated processes can complete tasks that would normally take days in a fraction of the time. When time is of the essence, an MMS-aided deployment ensures a company keeps its competitive edge. With their help, a company can make the most of any mobility implementation.
While a company’s workforce is its most essential asset, they are still human, which means sometimes accidents happen. Devices can get dropped or broken, usually at the most inconvenient of times. When this happens, productivity is lost until that device is replaced. An MMS service understands that life can be unpredictable and provides depot services from a centralized inventory pool to ensure a replacement can be delivered as soon as possible, even overnight.
Who Should Consider Mobile Managed Services?
As a company’s mobile needs change and grow, so do the factors required for effective management. Organizational responsibility for the logistics and management of a company’s mobile estate continues to become more diverse and updates come more frequently. Part of the driver of this growth stems from the consumerization of IT, where the workforce recognizes the need for mobile devices to better perform their jobs, as well as the adoption of mobile devices by more and more departments. With each additional layer of complexity comes increased risks. Improper management means unnecessary expenditure, frustration of the workforce, decreased data security, and a lack of needed automated systems.
Companies with the greatest need for Mobile managed services are those who are experiencing an increase in the 3Vs concerning their mobile usage. Growth of any of these 3Vs – Volume, Variety, and Velocity/volatility – means the efforts to manage and maintain them must expand to accommodate the new assets while still maintaining control of current ones.
- Volume: A company which who owns or manages a significant number of mobile devices that require connectivity to corporate resources and information, such as corporate email clients, will need a way to procure, provision, and support each one of those devices. When the number of these devices, paired with their associated platforms and carriers, passes a certain point, the services required to maintain and manage them can no longer feasibly be handled manually.
- Variety: With an increasing rate of diversity among devices that need to be managed and the platforms on which those devices run; each service required to manage these devices must adapt to accommodate the differences. This creates a need for different processes for each platform, which increases the amount of work required to perform necessary functions.
- Velocity/Volatility: Rates and contracts with providers can change quickly as new plans are rolled out. To optimize costs, a company needs to be able to move just as quickly to take advantage of lower rates. When a large part of this process is manual, often a company will miss out on not being able to move fast enough.
With the growth of each “V,” the amount of effort and time required to manage mobile assets can grow beyond that which a company can handle on their own. One of the greatest strengths of mobile managed services is in the powerful tools used to automate manual processes relating to the lifecycle of the device. The use of MMS can return control and visibility of a company’s mobile estate.
Essential Elements of Mobile Managed Services
As with any outsourced service, understanding the full spectrum of what they offer is important when choosing how they can best support a company. These services, when utilized with precision and planning, will not only give IT a more advanced toolset but a much more efficient way to manage a company’s mobile assets. The services and management options found within an MMS service are as follows:
- Operations Services is responsible for the transfer of day-to-day system management responsibility for all or part of a customer’s IT infrastructure to the MMS service. They handle administrative actions such as systems operation, support, security, performance monitoring, configuration management, system repair management, and generation of management reports.
- Invoice Auditing is comprised of a comprehensive plan formed using data from accounts payable. This data is then analyzed against invoices and vendor contracts to find and validate cost recovery opportunities. An action plan is then formed based on the audit findings that optimize processes and procedures to prevent future financial loss.
- Cost Optimization is a collective effort that combines business-focused discipline to reduce costs while maximizing value. It does this by seeking out the best pricing and terms for business purchasing, standardizing processes, and automating IT and business operations.
- Catalog Maintenance is comprised of managing the catalog of appropriate mobile devices as enforced by the mobile policy and includes a device portfolio, information about carrier plans and features, all associated accessories, and if they were part of a bundled purchase.
- Provider Fulfillment creates an automated and streamlined ordering system that integrates into an existing purchasing system or self-service access. This ensures the company is getting the appropriate devices at the right price point which are pre-equipped with the correct applications and services.
- Contract Audits examines written arrangements between a company and its suppliers with the intent to verify the accuracy of the amount and quality of goods delivered, and the customer was billed appropriately.
- UEM Administration is delivered through the use of a third-party platform which comprises the five core technical capabilities needed to manage mobile devices in the hands of the workforce, specifically mobile device management, mobile application management, mobile identity, mobile content management, and containment which maintains separation between corporate and personal data.
- Hardware Deployment simplifies the deployment of mobile assets, including connecting to a carrier service and activation. It integrates with a company’s EMM/UEM program of choice to enable support for internal customers. Included as part of an MMS service are forward and reverse logistics support, including staging and kitting, depot repair, replacement and recycling, and device cascading.
- Hotline/Helpdesk Support supports the workforce with both self-service and live expert resource solutions for all mobile hardware, software, and carrier-related issues. This provides quick answers for common complaints including app performance, UEM enrollment, email issues, lost devices, service plans, plan upgrades, and more.
Advantages of Mobile Managed Services
With the majority of organizations now shifting to a mobile strategy for their workforce, there are more mobile assets across more platforms to manage than ever before. The increased IT workload is not only more complex but requires far more time to manage. Transitioning some or all of the workload to a mobile managed services provider simply makes sense.
The first benefit of this transition starts with easing the burden on enterprise IT departments by providing powerful services, automation, and tools to enable them to do their job more efficiently without wasting time on manually processing data. Using an MMS service helps to break down the overwhelmingly complex task of managing multiple device platforms into manageable data flows and automated sequences. The time that would have been spent manually processing data can now be spent on actionable tasks to improve optimization, resolve more complex issues, and forecast future needs.
End-users also benefit from the use of a mobile managed services for several reasons. Should an issue arise, the MMS service gives them more resources and support to quickly find a solution. Small issues can be resolved using the automated tools included in the MMS service which further decreases workload while increasing efficiency. In the event of a larger issue, there are easy to use avenues available through support hotlines.
With the support of comprehensive UEM administration, the enterprise can also ensure that the end user’s device maintains its operational effectiveness through continual monitoring. Should the mobile device be operating outside of established parameters, that data is transmitted to the appropriate parties. This ensures that a company’s data remains secure and that device usage stays within expected limits.
When a mobile asset reaches the end-of-life stage with one user, an MMS provider takes the next steps to keep the device operational as long as possible. The device is first sanitized and wiped of data before being evaluated. Should it still be serviceable, it is refurbished for resale or reuse to recoup initial costs. Devices that are not reparable are recycled responsibly.
As a whole, mobile managed services help a company take that leap from simply an entity that utilizes mobile assets into a truly mobile enterprise. A strong MMS solution gives more security, which in turn gives a company more confidence to allow their workforce to work remotely. This allows employees to work where and when they want which in turn opens avenues of opportunity, such as extending service hours and thus increasing customer satisfaction. Utilizing services such as cloud-based servers and communications systems reduce costs by allowing a company to purchase only what it needs while also enables employees to share files instantly which improves the efficiency of collaborations.
In the end, it’s the bottom line that matters. MMS frees up the workforce who would normally have to spend time and effort on procurement, deployment, and management so they can focus more on business strategy and core activities. It ensures that all services are optimized, meaning the company is paying the best terms, rates, and conditions with their providers, securing the best prices for new assets, responsibly monitoring the lifecycle of their mobile assets, and ensuring contracts and invoices are correct though auditing. With the added benefit of providing flexibility in where employees do their work, it also can reduce the need for leasing additional office space.
Why Choose MobiChord for Mobile Managed Services
MobiChord offers a unique, user-centered solution which gives a company powerful tools which allow their employees to efficiently manage their mobile estate. Their modern, software approach extends the ServiceNow platform, making it simple to streamline mobile assets and manage expenses and services. As the only TEM provider with full integrations within the ServiceNow platform, MobiChord is well equipped to handle even the most complicated systems with their suite of tools and services.
The Gartner report has praised MobiChord for its vision and growth, saying that the company has taken its services “one step further.”