Service Providers Can Benefit from WEM Information Gap, Report Says

A report from T3i suggests service providers for wireless equipment/expense management can reap a potential windfall due to an information gap.

According to research conducted by telecommunications industry analyst T3i Group, a "golden opportunity" exists for service providers that include wireless equipment/expense management services in their offerings. The report found few businesses have a WEM program in place today, for reasons spanning from budgeting and the economy to not enough information to make an educated decision, and that service providers that can provide answers and hard numbers as to why companies need WEM will reap the benefits.

The report, "Managing the Company's Wireless Gear: Putting Wireless Equipment/Expense Management (WEM) to Work," analyzes how enterprise and small to midsize business decision-makers keep track of and account for employee equipment, how they ensure it works on their systems, how they secure their wireless gear and networks, why WEM targeting wireless devices need to be part of a company's IT and/or accounting department, what services are available in the WEM marketplace, and which enterprises and SMBs already have deployed successful WEM programs. It also details myriad reasons why a majority of businesses have not deployed a WEM program-a situation T3i said may end up costing them time, money, network security and staff productivity in the near term.

In its poll of decision-makers at domestic and international enterprises and SMBs, T3i Group found that only 5 percent of survey respondents have a WEM program in place. The vast majority of respondents were not considering WEM anytime in the foreseeable future.

The study suggests that hosted-service providers be prepared to demonstrate, in hard numbers, just how much money an enterprise or SMB can save by having a WEM expert handle billing and procurement duties, and how much productivity can be boosted by deploying the right portable wireless gear. They also should be ready to assess a company's wireless local area network (WLAN) for any possible breaches and/or slowdowns due to inadequate security monitoring procedures or poor employee training procedures.

Debra Baker, vice president and managing editor at T3i and the author of the report, said many of the reasons why today's businesses are not taking advantage of WEM are valid, including budget constraints, too few wireless portables to worry about and only certain employees are allowed to use wireless gear. "However, too many decision-makers admitted they don't know much about WEM or they don't see the benefits at this time," she said. "Others said they hadn't experienced such things as high billing costs, lost or stolen gear, or network incursions-yet."

Baker said the growing cost and complexity of wireless services and gear weighs in as one of the top five expenses for most businesses today and, thus, one more line item that needs to be pared in this current economy. Accounting departments or CTOs must decide whether to contract with a wireless carrier for all business needs and enforce that policy or reimburse individuals who use their own plans. "What we do know is that respondents who are on board with WEM are reaping the benefits, and service providers need to craft a better message to reach those business leaders who are desperate for information," she said. "The challenge right now is getting the right evangelism in place to educate SMBs and enterprises."