What are larger organisations really looking for in cell phone and data services?

Mobile_services.jpgHow are larger organisations setting up cell phone and data services with their providers? Most organisations have moved to a split billing arrangement, says Joshua Low of Purchasing Index (PI).

In some cases the contract remains in the name of the organisation, with an allowance paid to individuals to contribute towards the total cost of the contract each month.

In other cases, personnel contract under their own names and the organisation offers a monthly contribution/allowance towards monthly cell phone and data costs.

Which option is most popular and why?

There is no clear preference among organisations. It really depends on the culture of the organisation, says Low.

A number of organisations have opted to keep contracts in the name of the organisation to allow them a degree of control in accessing usage information and ensuring users choose from a range of corporate approved devices. Access to this kind of information becomes tricky when the contract is in the name of the employee.

Also, for security reasons organisations may prefer controlling which devices staff have access to.

If staff can choose their own contract and device how do you ensure that the security features on the device are in line with organisation protocol for handling sensitive information? How do you ensure that the operating software on these devices is compatible with organisation applications (such as SAP to approve business orders, etc.)? These are important questions for organisations considering which split billing model to go for.

What are large organisations focusing on, when it comes to voice and data arrangements?

Previously, the focus fell on price – discounts on airtime and subscription charges, etc. However, service management has become an increasing focus area for organisations that PI has interacted with, says Low.

Most clients have a SLA in place; about 50% get some form of management reporting; and a minority of organisations have penalty mechanisms in place if service providers do not perform over time.

Organisations are now starting to realise that without detailed management information and some method of penalising the suppliers for non performance, the benefits of having a well drafted SLA become redundant, says Low.

Organisations are also moving beyond relying on suppliers to provide them with this management information. Many organisations are starting to implement their own systems – to help validate the information they get from their suppliers, in assessing performance.

What are some of the key challenges facing organisation trying to manage this service?

  • Account Management  Quality of account management continues to be an issue. A client with which PI was recently engaged had six different account managers assigned to them, over a 6 month period. This is extremely frustrating for most organisations, as the organisation goes through an induction process each time and it takes months for the new account manager to become familiar with the client’s business, says Low.
  • Tariff Optimisation  A key challenge for almost all organisations. How do you ensure that each user is on the right tariff model/package on an ongoing basis? Or that they have been assigned a ‘fair’ allowance towards their monthly cell phone and data costs?
  • Improving the quality and regularity of reporting they receive.

What are large telecommunications organisations offering to improve the way clients manage this service?

A self-help portal allows users to log on, track usage and migrate users between packages. Some organisations are also allowing these administrators to set up usage filters (only paying for calls during peak hours, blocking roaming calls, blacklisting certain numbers, etc.)

A number of organisations have moved their users onto an APN solution for data – where organisations buy bulk data (usually 20 or 25 Gigabyte (Gb) bundles), negotiate a flat rate fee per Megabyte (Mb) for in and out-of-bundle usage and a fee for the hardware/dongles.

A number of the larger service providers in this space are offering similar deals to their corporate clients on voice. This would involve buying bulk airtime, negotiating a rate for handsets, and then negotiating a flat rate per minute fee for calls. A number of PI’s clients have/or are in the process of implementing this type of solution. If nothing else, this should certainly reduce the administration costs involved in trying to manage a plethora of different data and voice packages across the organisation.

For more information please contact Joshua Low on joshua@pibenchmark.co.za

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