Mobile devices have become an essential part of daily life and work, surpassing the desktop as the primary way that people now access the internet. Consider the following:
- By the end of 2021, there were 27.1 billion mobile devices — more than three devices for every person on the planet.
- In the U.S., having a mobile device is nearly universal, with 97% of Americans owning a mobile phone, 85% owning a smartphone and 53% owning a tablet.
- In a survey of IT executives, 82% said smartphones played a highly important role in employee productivity. (Registration required)
As the number of mobile devices has grown, so has the need to effectively manage them. Enterprise mobility today means much more than issuing a device and data plan. For IT staff, there are several key challenges:
- Deploying and overseeing hundreds, if not thousands, of devices requires special expertise, or may result in incurring additional mobile-related costs and fees.
- If devices aren’t ready to use out-of-the-box, they can cause employee frustration and significant time from IT to download and prepare the necessary applications and tools, as well as customize the device as needed.
- As compared with desktop computers and phones, there is a much greater risk of mobile devices becoming lost, stolen or damaged from daily use.
- Juggling multiple devices from different carriers can cause headaches for IT, particularly when it comes to billing.
- Mobile devices can be a point of vulnerability for outsiders to get access to a company’s network and obtain sensitive data since they are physically more accessible and security measures are typically not as robust.
In response to these challenges and the desire to adapt to an increasingly mobile workforce, mobile device-as-a-service (MDaaS) has emerged as a popular solution. The move for additional mobile device support already underway accelerated even more during the pandemic in 2020, when many workforces became fully remote or hybrid. Then came the Great Resignation last year, which forced employers to accommodate worker needs even further, or risk not only losing them to competitors, but to attractive lifestyle and cultural shifts.
Mobile device-as-a-service solutions free organizations and their IT departments from the burden of management, providing a simplified approach to mobility across the life cycle of devices. The shift away from managing a pool of devices has enabled organizations to place a greater focus on managing individuals, no matter which location they’re working from, as well as address their unique mobility needs.
Mobile device-as-a-service vendors generally offer complete solutions, from cross-carrier access and pooling that can streamline billing, device staging and kitting to preconfigure devices so they are ready to use, and protection so when one device breaks down, another one can be overnighted to the user for minimal interruption and at no additional cost. As with other as-a-service engagements, MDaaS includes a single pane-of-glass web platform, where customers can take live action on their mobile assets, as well as make service state changes across all major mobile networks and use AI-based tools to enhance the cost efficiency of their fleets.
As a result of MDaaS, users have been able to identify new efficiencies and lower mobility costs. Some vendors can provide insight into spending patterns, variances and forecasts by location, region, state or systemwide, enabling IT to make additional adjustments to maximize return on their mobile investments. Combined with fleet management tools, organizations can use mobile devices to gain access to real-time location intelligence and the status of every worker, vehicle and equipment asset in the field. They can also eliminate the need for tedious paperwork and reporting by automating items like route tracking and maintenance logs.
Is mobile device-as-a-service right for your customers? Consider the following:
- The solution works well for organizations that have complex mobility needs, such as delivery workers, field service technicians, health care providers and corporate field reps.
- MDaaS is especially helpful for businesses that manage several different types of mobile devices, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks, which may be from different manufacturers or supported by different carriers.
- For businesses that have high staff or device turnover, mobility costs can add up quickly. MDaaS solutions can provide cost savings in the form of automated deliveries, device protection and secure device recovery and recycling.
With the rise of mobile device as a service, we can embrace the flexible state of the workplace, where work can largely be performed from any connected place and business can operate in any condition or state — regardless of evolving threats such as health care crises, climate change, cybersecurity or terrorism. By servicing the individual’s needs, and freeing customers and their staff from the burden of their mobile needs, we can help them become more resilient and adaptable for whatever the future brings.
Max Silber is vice president of mobility and IoT at MetTel. His previous experience includes serving as senior vice president of business development for IDT Corp. and vice president of business development at Net2Phone Inc. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @OneMetTel on Twitter.