Before you do anything, get an assessment of your company's wireless assets. Who has wireless devices, and how do they connect to your systems? Mapping this information will give you a good idea of which service providers are already being used, which devices your employees feel most comfortable with, and which devices and service plans should be formally supported. Gartner's Dulaney suggests a three-tiered approach to device support: fully supporting one small set of devices, partially supporting a broader second set, and banning all other devices.
But don't assume that just because IT is managing the mobility strategy that it has to actually pay for the devices out of its own budget. Analysts agree that while policy and management should come from the IT shop, business units should ultimately pay for the hardware. This will force each department to think twice before it needlessly equips workers with mobile devices. That is a key part of the mobility strategy at Diageo North America, a subsidiary of Diageo plc, the $16 billion London-based producer of Smirnoff vodka, Guinness stout, Captain Morgan rum and Tanqueray gin, among others. "That's part of the reason you don't see [all] 4,000 [of our] people with BlackBerrys," says David Bilger, senior vice president of global delivery for the Americas.
As for wireless connectivity, centralizing the mobile strategy will allow companies to negotiate better rates with service providersmost likely for a flat fee rather than per minute. The savings can be significant. For example, at Adventis, a Boston-based strategy consulting firm with 125 employees, CIO David Rossien chopped remote access costs in half by partnering with GoRemote, which offers a flat fee for Ethernet, Wi-Fi and dial-up connections for mobile workers. And at Ketchum Inc., an international public relations firm with about 1,100 employees, Vice President of Technology Services Pete Donina estimates that his rollout of Corp-orate Access from iPass Inc. (a remote-access aggregator), currently in use by 250 employees, is saving the company roughly $4,000 per monthslashing its connectivity costs by roughly two-thirds on both wireless and dial-up.
At Cox Communications Inc., the nation's fourth largest cable and Internet service provider, with more than 6.5 million subscribers, executives saw the need to increase customer satisfaction in field service, says Michael Kovash, Cox's senior IT project manager. In fact, he says, "our customers reached out to corporate several years ago and asked for greater synergy." So the IT department developed a plan. "In the past, a technician would arrive in the morning and there would be a stack of orders for him to take out," says Kovash. Because of the lengthy processing time, service appointments had to be made weeks in advance, and there was no way to let customers know exactly when the technician would arrive at their doorstep. But through a partnership with wireless service provider Padcom, Cox refitted about 3,000 of its mobile technicians with wireless PDAs so they can receive orders in real time wherever they are. "Now the technicians have a wealth of information at their fingertips where, in the past, they had to call someone." Customer wait times have been reduced from four hours to one.