While the benefits of arming your workforce with mobile devices are undisputed, the investment of IT resources to launch and manage a BYOD or COPE initiative is also significant. A 2017 study by Blue Hill Research found that enterprises devote two-to-three full-time equivalents for every 1,000 devices, representing labor costs of up to $246,000 per year.

As enterprises reassess their approach to enterprise mobility management, Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) or Managed Mobile Services (MMS) should be carefully considered as an alternative model that can reduce both IT costs and employee downtime.

What is Mobility-as-a-Service?

Mobility-as-a-Service may seem like a buzzword, but it really combines two things:

  • A Consulting Service: Someone with specialized knowledge to help with enterprise mobility projects.

  • An Operational Service: Providing the tools and expertise needed to keep those mobile devices secure and users satisfied.

The availability of unlocked phones has opened the door for a broader set of IT solution providers to build out MaaS offerings. In the past, smartphone purchases in the U.S. were locked to a specific carrier and service agreement. Today, unlocked devices are easy available. These can be acquired directly from manufacturer as well as the IT resellers who have traditionally supported enterprise infrastructure and computing needs.

The specific services included in a MaaS offering will vary by vendor and can likely be customized. However, typical components include: sourcing devices and carrier activation, kitting and configuring devices, mobile device management and security, and ongoing helpdesk support for users.

Getting Started With MaaS

MaaS providers are usually not resellers of carrier services, but they can bring an awareness of the market to the table. This helps enterprises select the best service plan and use MaaS providers as an information source for their carrier negotiations. They will then guide enterprises through the device life cycle, which is divided into two main stages: design and develop, then deploy and operate.

The first part of working with a service provider is to align on your mobility objectives, matching up business workflows with device needs, and then establishing a mobility strategic plan. This roadmap ensures that line-of-business needs are satisfied through your deployment of mobile devices.

For example, some business functions may call for dedicated, customized devices. Previously, these would be handled by high-cost specialized hardware, but a MaaS provider can help identify off-the-shelf smartphones and tablets that can be configured at lower cost, even in a Wi-Fi-only environment. Alignment should also be reached on device management and security requirements.

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Deploy and Operate

MaaS providers can really help enterprises with the deployment and operations process. A mobility project usually includes ordering and configuring devices so that users can start up their devices and jump right into work. Even with automation, these tasks can be labor-intensive for an in-house IT team.

MaaS providers can simplify and accelerate the deployment phases by providing inventory services, handling initial configuration of devices either on- or off-site, and even shipping preconfigured devices out to end users.

When to Consider MaaS

Typically, day-to-day operation of a mobility project focuses on a mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) tool that controls device configurations and settings and applies enterprise policies.

Depending on the geographic scope of the project and the number of devices, a MaaS provider may be able to deal with device support more efficiently than you can do in-house, providing help for configuration and long-term maintenance.

Additionally, by having a third-party manage some of the larger-scale deployments, organizations can reduce time spent dealing with loss, phone replacement and even helpdesk functions. Looking across the entire device lifecycle, the Blue Hill Research study estimated a three-year return on investment ranging from 150 percent to 450 percent for MaaS compared with in-house management.

Managed mobility services should be considered for any large mobile project. IT managers partnering to gain expertise and operational support from a trusted third party can speed up projects, reduce overall costs and project risk, and increase satisfaction and success rates.

See what additional benefits unlocked smartphones can bring to your enterprise.

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Joel Snyder

Joel Snyder, Ph.D., is a senior IT consultant with 30 years of practice. An internationally recognized expert in the areas of security, messaging and networks, Snyder is a popular speaker and author and is known for his unbiased and comprehensive tests of security and networking products. His clients include major organizations on six continents.

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