Connaught cedes control of 6,500-strong mobile estate

'Manage that - along with our voice and data too... '

'Manage that - along with our voice and data too... '

Housing services company Connaught has expanded a £5.5m voice and data contract with managed services provider Azzurri Communications signed in 2006, to incorporate its 6,500-strong mobile fleet as well.

The fully converged comms deal will run to 2011 and will see Azzurri take responsibility for Connaught's growing mobile estate - from procurement and support to consulting on strategy.

Mobility is Connaught's biggest challenge, according to Lucien Wynn, the company's IT director: "We have something like 2,000 people who use… a handheld device to manage work and cost and assets. We reckon that's going to grow to 6,000 or 7,000 over the next three or four years. So… it's a massive thing for us in terms of making sure we understand the technology, making sure we manage that size estate and making sure… we have the right support. And I'm a great believer that if we tried to do it ourselves we would come unstuck.

"For a business that needs to focus on its front line delivery I strongly believe you need to have a service provider who can deliver the converged model."

Prior to inking the new deal with Azzurri, Connaught was managing its mobiles itself but Wynn told the increasingly business critical nature of mobility meant the housing company was struggling to manage on its own.

"We've always viewed… mobiles as very much a commodity purchase but as the [mobile] estate's got bigger, we've changed our service mix as a business and realised that we are very mobile focused. We're a service business and service equates to being on the road, geographic disbursement, we have lots of people in vans, lots of people in cars. We really needed to think a little bit differently about it," he said.

"To be honest, the direct relationship we had with the [mobile] vendors - they just didn't seem to provide a service. We realised that not only did we want a commercially sound deal but we also wanted a very good service wrap around that."

Wynn said Connaught had previously struggled to get even the basics - such as billing – right, and therefore couldn't hope to think strategically about mobile and stay on top of market developments.

"We realised we needed some advice about where [telecoms] was going and it's all well and good attending some sort of briefing or a strategy event but we wanted to be in contact with people who actually did this thing day in, day out and could advise us on where the telecoms market was going," he said.

"Like most organisations we were still embroiled in day-to-day management of mobile at a transactional level and I don't see that adds any value to our business whatsoever," Wynn added.

The IT director noted there is an aspect of risk around having "all your eggs in one basket" but said the company is happy with the deal, adding: "The way I look at it is we can identify, if we need to, the individual services, we can benchmark those individual services if we need to and I was quite comfortable that we were actually going to see more benefit rather than more risk."