How to Manage Your Mobile Assets Without Losing Your Mind

Organizations that are poised to succeed in today's business world are subject to a multitude of regulatory controls, technology controls and ever-changing asset bases. Today's employees have moved from the boardroom to the client site and beyond, taking

Mitchell Caplan, CEO and founder of ETrade, has stated publicly on many occasions that the primary success of an organization comes from two things: focus and team cohesiveness. According to Caplan, "To succeed as a team is to hold all members of that team accountable for their expertise." This accountability, when combined with true focus, makes an organization ripe for success.

Accountability is a universal organizational and regulatory need. One issue to consider, however, when dealing with accountability, is who is truly responsible for an organization's telecommunications assets (both wire-line and wireless), billing and contract obligations, employee reimbursement, and, most importantly, the data on the devices used by employees both inside and outside of an organization.

In most organizations, the management of telecommunications assets falls into several categories; typically human resources is responsible for employee accountability, purchasing is liable for contract negotiations and agreements, and each division manager may be in charge of a given device or its means of use or both. The only way an organization can maintain a tight rein on its mobile assets is to have all telecommunications needs managed by one person in an organization.

The data, on the other hand, as a direct result of numerous governmental controls such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, is almost always the responsibility of the security team. Given the range of team members focusing on telecommunications and data assets, most organizations struggle to keep an updated accounting of all devices, data, assets and physical locations of said equipment.

While security and compliance issues aren't directly related to managing the mobile assets themselves, there is still a necessary relation between the data security operation and the organization that holds the accountability for the mobile assets themselves. This relationship must be formalized, and the managers responsible must be made personally accountable for data loss resulting from lack of either physical accountability or data security.

Understanding these challenges enables us to focus on the solution, which is not an "out-of-the-box" one. There is an entire genre of software products called TEM (Telecom Expense Management) solutions that are customized to fit the needs of various organizations. These robust software solutions are designed to track, manage, update, automate, optimize, audit and secure the usage and inventory of an organization's telecommunications assets. When working with a TEM provider, not only do organizations gain a deeper understanding of their telecom assets and spending, but they also typically, through the optimization, realize significant savings month over month, based on usage of these individual devices.

While there will always be misconceptions attached to all software-based solutions, in TEM the audit portion is considered demonstrable evidence that an organization understands and manages its telecommunications assets on an ongoing basis. In a security or regulatory audit, the data collected in the optimization and analysis process can be used as forensic evidence to not only protect your organization, but also reduce a portion of your regulatory management costs, which may add additional revenue to your bottom line.

Companies like Optelcon, Quickcomm and ASoft enable organizations to manage their assets while understanding everything from procurement to help desk to policy management and beyond. According to Robert Pommer, CEO of Optelcon, "Even companies with the largest telecom staffs can benefit from bringing in an outside professional Mobile Cost Management solution. The combination of TEM technology and industry insight will provide almost any organization's internal telecommunications team with the tools to be even more focused and effective."

The amount of manpower required to analyze, optimize and maintain an updated understanding of an organization's telecom asset base is typically cost-prohibitive; however with TEM software, organizations can manage the way they do business more effectively and efficiently. Effective TEM solutions, when implemented in an organization, enable the worries and stresses associated with telecommunications asset management to become problems of the past, instead of hitting the proverbial corporate windshield head-on. Understanding your mobile assets and technology before your bottom line and your data become a more significant issue is one form of corporate medicine we can all embrace.

Jamey Charapp is the CEO and founder of Alternative Communications Consultants in Germantown, Md. Founded in 1996, Alternative Communications has worked with hundreds of organizations to secure, manage and optimize their wire-line and wireless asset bases. He can be reached at