Sprint Nextel Launches Mobile Consulting Services

The company's new subsidiary offers mobile consulting and implementation services for large businesses and government agencies.

Sprint Nextel on Thursday announced a new subsidiary that will provide mobile consulting and implementation services to corporate customers.

Sprint Enterprise Mobility Inc. will help large businesses and government agencies to implement custom-made service packages unique to their needs, officials said.

"Sprint Enterprise Mobility was born out of customer need," said Len Lauer, chief operating officer of Sprint Nextel in Kansas City, Mo. "They understand the need for mobility, but they need help figuring out the ifs, the hows and the whys of getting it done."

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The launch of the subsidiary follows the July launch of Sprint Mobile Business Assessment, also a consulting service for business customers.

But while SMBA was largely about data analysis and advice, Sprint Enterprise Mobility will include both implementation of mobile voice and data services and the assumption of risks related to it, officials said.

"The role of Sprint Enterprise Mobility is a custom-made, tailor-made role," said Bill Halbert, president of Sprint Enterprise Mobility, formerly an executive at British Telecom Plc. "IT decisions always carry some risk. Sprint Enterprise Mobility will take on that kind of risk on behalf of customers."

The subsidiary will work with Sprint Nextel, systems integrators, device manufacturers, application developers and, where necessary, other wireless carriers.

"Most Fortune 1000 companies operate in multi-carrier environments to achieve the reach they need to achieve," Halbert said.

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He declined to comment on the size of the organization, but said initial customers will likely be those in vertical markets such as insurance and health care—markets that tend to be early adopters of mobile technology anyway.

To that end, the services might be a tough sell for customers who have been managing mobile implementations for years.

"We are very selective in the use of consulting services and typically hire expert contractors rather than consultants," said John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School and Caregroup Health Systems, a Boston-area hospital group. "For example, we hired a specialty firm from Iceland [Reykjavik-based Men&Mice] to design our DNS/DHCP infrastructure and we hired Laura Chappell to educate us about highly secure wireless networks.

"We have a good relationship with Sprint now. They provide information about new products, are working with us to develop an in-house wireless application to replace our legacy AT&T in-building cellular system. I do not believe we have a business need for additional consulting services from them at this time."

Halbert argued that the new subsidiary will serve expert customers well.

"In trying to put solutions together, CIOs and their equivalents will reach out to the small boutique houses," Halbert said. "They are acting as their own mobility integrators ….What [were] doing is taking over the prime contract responsibility and dealing with all of those niche players on behalf of the organization."

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