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Managed Services Can Offset IT Burdens From An Explosion of Mobile Devices

An average enterprise-class organization has approximately 68,000 mobile devices in use, including laptops, phones, tablets, wearables, and many others. In the past year, more than one-third of IT operations' time and cost was spent dealing with mobile devices. These staggering statistics are the reason why so many organizations struggle to manage their mobile fleet.

The findings come from Tangoe’s newly published reportwhich explores the challenges of mobile device management and the benefits of managed mobility service (MMS) solutions. The research was conducted by Vanson Bourne in December 2022, surveying 300 IT decision makers (ITDMs) from organizations with global annual revenue from $500 million to $50 billion.

More connected devices create a problem that’s been brewing for a while but has now hit a tipping point. A decade ago, the ratio of connected devices to people was about 1 to 1. That number has slowly crept up as mobile phones, tablets, IoT endpoints, and other connected devices have made their way into the workplace. The Tangoe report did a good job of highlighting how untenable the situation is and what the biggest issues are for corporate IT. 

Many challenges exist with mobile device management

The top challenges with mobile fleet management named by ITDMs include sourcing new mobile assets (73 percent) and managing mobile device inventory (70 percent), followed by mobile help desk support (61 percent) and collecting, recycling, and wiping assets (53 percent). Two-thirds (65 percent) of organizations rely on at least one type of mobile device and consider them essential to business operations. Laptops are the most essential device type, with 41 percent of companies completely dependent on them. This dependence on mobile devices is creating a greater burden on internal IT teams.

Employee turnover and security are two of the big problems

Another challenge with mobile device management is related to recruitment and retention issues. Various factors contributed to high turnover rates last year, many of which were pandemic related. Regardless of industry or company size, all organizations (100 percent) have struggled with mobile device management due to employee turnover.

Manually keeping tabs on devices that are constantly coming in and out of the organization creates security risks. It’s a complex process that involves different applications, operating systems, and device types. Then there’s the additional problem with device ownership. Data shows that 65 percent of devices accessing company information are personally owned. Implementing security measures on personally owned devices, such as software and usage restrictions, is difficult for IT because they’re not controlled by the organization.

It's time for strategies to change

Although most companies prefer a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy for phones and a corporate-owned policy for laptops, they don’t see it as an effective long-term approach. More than half of the respondents cited security concerns (53 percent) and data breaches (50 percent) as the leading problems with BYOD. Additionally, ITDMs believe this approach to fleet management could be devastating to their bottom line, where they project a $4 million average loss per hour of downtime across all mobile devices.

Going forward, 81 percent of organizations plan to modify their mobile ownership strategy to address these challenges. Part of the strategy is to invest in MMS solutions, which are used to procure, provision, and support a mobile fleet, including BYOD devices. The majority of ITDMs (90 percent) agree that MMS provides a positive return on investment (ROI), while 88 percent believe it provides better security. Some additional benefits of MMS, named by ITDMs, include improved business uptime (91 percent), enhanced productivity (90 percent), and reduced cost/wasted spend (88 percent).

Companies typically use a combination of approaches for device management. Between one quarter and one-third of organizations' device management is external—such as expenses (27 percent), inventory (29 percent), IT helpdesk (35 percent), invoices (26 percent), ordering (33 percent), and fulfillment (34 percent). Since most organizations already have some part of their device management handled externally, the transition to a full device lifecycle MMS shouldn’t be challenging.

Positive ROI comes with a willingness to change

It’s estimated that more than half of IT operations’ time could be saved by adopting an MMS solution. Moreover, organizations can experience cost savings of over 40 percent on average. For those organizations that have already invested in MMS, the investments are paying off. Nearly all organizations are reporting a positive ROI, while 15 percent are reporting a reduction in IT costs from leveraging an MMS solution.

The report’s findings show that organizations are ready to change how they approach device management, with support from vendors that can handle the full device lifecycle externally. This mindset shift is important to embrace as the number of connected devices isn’t going down any time soon.

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research.

(Read his other Network Computing articles here.)

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