You need to figure out when mobile congestion affects your clients and employees.
As smartphone adoption continues to increase, mobile operators are struggling-and
will continue to struggle-to provide adequate levels of service, as spectrum is
oversubscribed or cell-site backhaul gets saturated. So enterprises need to arm
themselves with the right information to determine when their client base is
adversely affected and their employee productivity is limited by this
Those of us who work in downtown San Francisco know all too well
that AT&T's service on a weekday is commonly horrendous for both data and
voice. We've heard this complaint from iPhone customers (including myself,
until recently) for well over a year now, and AT&T has acknowledged that it
has a lot of work still to do in markets like San Francisco and New York where smartphone
data usage (and iPhone adoption) is uncommonly high
The fact remains that AT&T's problems in these areas aren't confined
solely to the iPhone. During last month's RSA security
conference in San Francisco, I had lunch with
a friend who complained about the mobile phone service around the Moscone Center. She kept getting
messages saying "Emergency Calls Only" on her phone. Her corporate-issue
Windows Mobile phone, complete with enterprise service plan and contracts,
couldn't get service in the middle of downtown San Francisco.
In 2008, I wrote a story enumerating some of the different types of
management IT administrators should have over their mobile device and
, citing an up-and-coming
area that I referred to as service management. I referred to service management
as "paying the least buck for the bang," tracking smartphone usage to cull out
and excise neglected devices or those needing different types of plans (like
international plans) to better match actual usage. But over time, service
management has begun to morph as well, adding intelligence and reporting to be
able to track things like dropped calls or signal levels.
When I wrote that story, service management was a pretty niche offering.
Carriers provided some reports, and third-party solutions could correlate
enterprise device and directory data with usage reports from carriers to
identify inefficient usage. But now I'm seeing a number of advanced mobile
device management platforms adding service management features, starting with
cost and usage analysis.
One of the most interest tidbits I came across during my somewhat
unsuccessful attempt to review Boxtone's device management suite was a series
of service management reports that came with its Asset, Expense and Compliance
Management module, which attempted to actively define ROI and costs for smartphone
usage (or lack thereof). Inventory reports enumerated last message sent and
received, providing insight into when a device was last used.
Low-use and no-use reports organize this data, identifying last contact
date and the cost of this inaction based on monthly per-device costs. And
Productivity reports identify each user's volume of messages read and sent
during nonbusiness hours, allowing managers to assess and put a dollar value on
nonbusiness-hour work done via the mobile platform.
Other MDM vendors are growing their service management to encompass
wireless performance in the field, which could help an enterprise build a case
with their existing carrier about poor network performance. That could lead to
cost savings-and might even help build a case to change carriers. For instance,
MDM maker Mobile Iron's Mobile Activity Intelligence tracks wireless network
performance, logging and mapping dropped calls, signal strength and discovered
network coverage gaps over time across the mobile fleet
Tracking this kind of data requires additional client-side intelligence.
BlackBerry devices already have an ongoing dialog with an associated BlackBerry
Enterprise Server that could help form the basis for these reports (Mobile Iron
needs to be paired with a BES), but ActiveSync-connected smartphones typically
do not. So a device-side client application to collect and report is needed, and
Mobile Iron claims to support Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian
and WebOS. This indicates that enterprises could extend their service
management to any employee-owned devices allowed to connect to corporate