Carriers are service providers and as such must be very attentive to their customers' needs and plans. This is never more evident than in the area of wireless services, where competition is rapidly driving service pricing down to the cost of providing it, leaving margins razor thin.
One solution is to understand what enterprises are planning so carriers can position their service offerings to meet emerging needs and to anticipate the market in order to generate maximum margin.
Understanding enterprise wireless mobility planning
It is important to first understand that mobility planning is becoming a very big deal for enterprises.
According to recent studies conducted by Nemertes Research, more than half of enterprises that participated indicate that they have or are developing mobility strategies. And it is no wonder. First, companies that have developed strategies increase the impact of mobility solutions on business sales generation by more than 15% when compared with companies that deploy mobility without a strategy. So carriers are very likely to find that their customers are thinking in terms of planning for mobility.
Second, mobility planning is becoming very business-focused. Enterprise strategic planning is more likely to concentrate on the business impact of mobility. As mobile workers increasingly depend on mobile devices to deliver not only voice but data communications, as well, mobility is rarely standalone anymore. And enterprises are finding that mobility spending is tied directly to IT spending. Mobility strategic planning seeks to consolidate wireless spending so the enterprise can leverage a larger budget to gain advantageous pricing and reduce costs.
A final complication for any mobile strategy is that mobility planning is evolving to incorporate more complex communications and computing capabilities such as fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and Wi-Fi integration. Although FMC is not a big concern in enterprises -- Nemertes finds that 10%
of enterprises that participate in benchmark studies are currently deploying some form of FMC capability. Wi-Fi integration is rising in importance as enterprises seek to leverage their infrastructure investment with dual-mode VoIP-capable phones and other roaming data services.
In addition, mobility is beginning to morph into a larger unified communications strategy. Research by Nemertes indicates that companies with mobility strategies are also likely to be developing unified communications strategies. And more often than not, unified communications planning is associated with extending corporate applications and capabilities to the mobile worker.
The carrier's role in enterprise wireless strategies
As noted above, carriers should be very aware of their customers' business objectives and critical business processes. At the very least, they should understand the primary business of their customers and how revenue is generated.
One comment that Nemertes hears over and over from enterprises is that carriers with whom they have done business for years still come to contract negotiations acting as though it is the first time they have ever heard of the enterprise's needs. Enterprises are looking for trusted partners that can articulate capabilities in terms of the enterprise business.
In addition, carriers need to be prepared to help enterprises establish and track business metrics. Many of the enterprise IT professionals interviewed by Nemertes indicated that they do not track business metrics. This causes problems when IT seeks to justify expenditures and makes it hard to prove that a service is beneficial when seeking to expand that service.
The bottom line is that carriers must plan to lead a service discussion with some form of professional service offerings for their enterprise customers. Helping customers adopt appropriate telemetry around critical mobility-dependent business processes will ensure increased sales. Helping them plan and implement the appropriate mobility solution will create an enduring relationship with the customer.
About the author: Mike Jude is a research analyst with Nemertes Research, where he advises enterprises, carriers and vendors, conducts research and delivers strategic seminars. His area of expertise at Nemertes is wireless technologies and mobility strategies. Jude brings 30 years of experience in technology management in manufacturing, wide-area network design, intellectual-property management and public policy. Jude holds degrees in electrical engineering and engineering management respectively, and a Ph.D. in decision analysis. He is the co-author of The Case for Virtual Business Processes: Reduce Costs, Improve Efficiencies and Focus on You Core Business, Cisco Press, 2003.