MNCs have responsibility to manage mobile issues

Although managed mobility services are still immature, multinational corporations could do more to resolve problems on their own and reduce their reliance on mobile operators, urges market analyst.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor on

Multinational corporations (MNCs) need to start taking ownership and manage their business mobility costs, and not shift all responsibilities to mobile operators that have already invested in improvements to support enterprise mobile services, according to an analyst.

Pauline Trotter, analyst at Ovum, noted that MNCs are struggling to manage the increasing cost and complexity of mobilizing their business on a global scale.

Even though managing the cost of mobile is a top priority for MNCs, most of them have little idea of how much they are actually spending globally, Trotter said in a report released Thursday.

But, most would simply point the finger at mobile operators, she said, noting that these businesses should take more initiative to address the problems.

"The major mobile service providers have invested in improvements over the past two years to support MNCs in tackling the issue of international mobility. In particular, they have improved areas such as expense management, device management and helpdesk support."

Such efforts, however, have done little to impress MNCs, Trotter added. "We think this judgment is harsh," she said. The analyst noted that while managed mobility services are still immature, MNCs should still take some responsibility to address these problems themselves.

She added that organizations are generally satisfied with services provided by operators in the individual country, this level of satisfaction drops on a global scale. They expect the same level of service from mobile operators globally as they already have with fixed services.

More severe in Asia-Pacific
Trotter pointed out that the situation is more severe in Asia, where MNC users are highly mobile but the enterprise mobile services offerings from operators "underwhelming" and limited to only remote access services, on-premise mobility support for employees traveling between MNC offices and general roaming services.

There is little managed mobility offerings in the region, and where support is provided, it is only available for corporations that have a big pool of mobile users, she said.

She added that business demands may be "unrealistic" because operators need time to establish strong partnerships to provide managed mobile services that span the region and globe.

To better build relationships with their enterprise customers, Trotter suggested that service providers continue to help the MNCs with cost management and provide more support in mobile device management.

She noted that MNCs, which still have a fragmented approach to procurement, will also need to take "a more holistic approach" or their operators can only provide a particle solution, no matter the amount of investment they pump into improving their services.

According to a May report from IDC that looked at operator mobility strategies for MNCs, the rapid growth of mobile working in recent years has put more pressure on global companies to manage their mobility strategies as cost-effectively as possible.

The research firm advised MNCs to evaluate the specific types of access, devices and applications that various departments of their mobile workforce need, instead of applying a blanket set of fixed services across the board. This, the analyst said, will provide greater centralized sourcing of mobile in MNCs globally.

Nicholas McQuire, IDC's research director for enterprise mobility, said in the report: "Greater workforce mobilization, growing adoption of mobile technology for business use, and a lack of centralized visibility, management, and control of costs have rendered mobility an expensive and unwieldy cost base in many MNCs."

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