Managing mobility: Should you do it yourself?

By: Gina Gallo, President and CEO, Stratix Corporation

The previous post described three basic options for managing large-enterprise mobility: Do it yourself, outsource specific jobs, or switch to a mobility-as-a-service approach.

It’s logical to assume that managing mobile assets is a natural evolution from managing the existing parts of your infrastructure. Sure, there are more mobile devices, but they’re basically just portable computers, right? Well, no.

In focusing exclusively on mobile devices for more than 30 years, we’ve learned how different mobile technology is from the servers, desktops, and laptop evolutions of yesterday. For one thing, the mobile lifecycle is getting shorter and shorter, thanks to the consumer adoption of mobile.  So, while the cost of entry into mobile is coming down due to volume, your normal CAPEX budgeting assumptions are getting derailed.  The rapid obsolescence of these newer, faster and sometimes cheaper mobile computing options, is often happening more quickly than the applications running on these devices.

Most important, though, is the diversity of mobile devices and users, with deep implications for successful support and overall management. Where a typical enterprise used to settle on a corporate standard — Dell laptops, say, running a specific Windows release and an authorized office suite — today’s mobile deployment is usually a mix of corporate-liable and BYOD, multiple operating systems and form factors, company content and apps alongside personal tools, and a much wider range of working environments and end users.

Think about what it takes to manage this menagerie in-house and become the target of everything mobile, and this is only a partial list:

* A help desk trained to support every mobile variant, business app, and OS environment. A low-cost scripted approach for basic support no longer resolves many issues. Staffers now have to understand the different technologies, user environments and laundry list of unique business apps that continue to change and require upgrades with every new OS firmware release.

* A hardware support team certified to diagnose and repair units from a dozen manufacturers, not to mention a parts inventory and spare pool to keep these vital devices up and running. A weeklong “loaner” isn’t workable any more, and you need an RMA process with reliable reverse logistics.

* Visibility into the real-time status of every device. Who’s using it? What apps are they using? Where are they using it; in or out of country?  When are they using it 5×8 or 7x 24? What corporate content needs to be secured and potentially wiped? What’s the repair history and is there a common failure pattern? Are wireless carrier charges optimized? Maintaining this information on thousands of devices, aligning it with other corporate databases, and making it accessible via metrics-oriented dashboards is a significant engineering task.

Given enough invested resources and commitment to spend whatever it takes to stay ahead of the curve, enterprises can certainly do this themselves, and many are convinced they can. They believe the support model that served them well over the past twenty years can adapt to the new reality.

We respectfully disagree.

Why? Your mobile ecosystem is only going to grow in size and complexity, and managing it yourself will become a bigger and bigger part of your business — enough that it will have to be a core competency. But will that represent a major distraction from your core strategic focus? Do you really want to be the target of everything mobile? Let’s face it; Mobility is a full time job in the Enterprise!

How about carving up this management task into pieces and jobbing them out to several competent third parties?

The next post will discuss the pros and cons of that alternative.