Sep 08 2016

9 Mobile Device Services Your Organization Can't Do Without

These device services can help centralize the procurement, activation and configuration of mobile devices, speeding up deployments and freeing up time for IT departments.

In recent years, mobile technology has evolved from a competitive differentiator into a baseline expectation.

Enterprises in virtually all industries are equipping users with smartphones and tablets to boost their productivity, and organizations that were late to invest in mobile solutions are now scrambling to catch up. Mobility still has the potential to create competitive advantages, but only for enterprises that are truly redefining business operations through mobility: retailers using tablets for “line-busting” point-of-sale transactions; healthcare providers securely renewing prescriptions from wherever they are; and government agency workers calling up data in real time from the field.

However, mobility also brings challenges to IT departments, as well as to end users. Some organizations must procure hundreds or thousands of new devices, activate them and configure them for users. IT leaders must negotiate device prices and enter into data contracts, manage new smartphones and tablets, provide applications and secure both devices and data. A mobility deployment also creates a potential flood of help desk calls.

An organization can’t innovate with mobile technologies if its IT administrators are spending all of their time simply managing a mobile deployment. And many organizations lack the expertise on staff to get the most out of mobile technologies. For these reasons, many organizations choose to get help from a trusted partner that can handle many of the responsibilities that come with rolling out and managing mobile devices. These partnerships help to ensure that mobile deployments are done right, while also giving IT staffers the time and space to think about how to use the new mobile technologies to advance the goals of the organization.

Mobile deployments can have huge bottom-line consequences. Done well, mobile initiatives can help enterprises realize benefits they didn’t even know were possible.

Getting Started with Device Services

Deploying mobile devices across an enterprise isn’t as simple as calling up a vendor and placing an order for a few hundred tablets or a few thousand smartphones. Instead, managers must choose from a multitude of devices, picking the right mix for their specific environment. They must work with different manufacturers to get the best price, and then get the devices into users’ hands as quickly as possible. Often, this process is more complex and time-consuming than organizations anticipate, as devices typically must be activated, unboxed, tagged, placed in protective cases and enrolled in a mobile device management (MDM) system before users can begin utilizing them. Then, after devices are deployed, additional challenges arise with maintenance, management, finance and troubleshooting.

A trusted IT partner such as CDW can help with the following services:

1. Centralized Procurement

Using CDW’s Mobility Management Portal, organizations can simplify device selection, ordering from a predefined catalogue in a process that combines automation with economies of scale. Also, CDW’s experts can provide advice on which devices to choose from the vast number of options. In addition to streamlining procurement, a centralized portal can help organizations cut down on departments attempting to procure devices without IT staff involvement. Reducing the proliferation of rogue IT, in turn, leads to a more manageable and secure mobile environment.

2. Activation

When organizations undertake the activation of a large number of devices on their own, they must find carrier identifiers for each device, record those carrier identifiers and then place calls to their cellular carrier representative. It’s a slow and cumbersome process with a high potential for manual error. Working with a third-party partner helps enterprises eliminate these mistakes, while also saving staff time and speeding up device rollouts. Each smartphone or tablet can also be tested to ensure that the devices are set up with the appropriate data plans, allowing users to begin working with them right out of the box.

3. Custom Configuration

Taking talented in-house IT staff away from mission-critical projects to configure new devices can hamper productivity. CDW’s certified Configuration Centers solve this problem, putting “plug-and-play” devices directly into users’ hands, already configured to an organization’s precise specifications. CDW’s Configuration Centers preinstall necessary apps onto each device (differentiated by user role) and preconfigure connections to an organization’s mobile and enterprise networks. A partner can also configure the physical presentation of the devices — putting on protective cases or adding tracking tags, for example. While these steps may sound simple, most organizations do not want to tie up their professional IT staff with the easily outsourced labor of outfitting 50, 500 or 5,000 new devices with protective cases.

4. MDM Enrollment

CDW can enroll devices into an organization’s MDM program. If an organization is using AirWatch to manage its mobile devices, for example, AirWatch user profiles can be pushed out to devices in a new deployment. This saves users and IT staff the time it would normally take to go through the enrollment process after the devices have been shipped to the organization. It also ensures that devices are managed and secured with tools such as virtual private network (VPN) connections and secure access to cloud storage and file sharing from the moment they’re powered up by a user.

5. Asset Management 

When an organization undertakes a mobile deployment, it adds perhaps hundreds or even thousands of new physical assets, each of which will require repairs and reconfiguration over time. These devices also must be decommissioned when lost, stolen, damaged beyond repair or rendered obsolete by the passage of time, and they must be collected, refurbished and recommissioned when users leave an organization.

6. Expense Management

Individual mobile customers often have difficulty making sense of their voice and data plans. Multiply this complexity by thousands of users, dozens of devices and several carriers and plans, and it’s easy to see why many organizations turn to external partners to help them manage the expenses associated with their mobile environments. (Without a partner, some organizations either ignore mobile expense management altogether, or else dedicate large amounts of staff time to poring over monthly cellular bills.) CDW provides quarterly audits of wireless spending, which give organizations the information they need to provide the appropriate voice and data plans for their users. On average, organizations partnering with CDW for mobile expense management can expect to save between 15 and 20 percent over the life of their contract.

7. Warranty

A partner such as CDW can help organizations make sure they are getting the best possible value under the terms of their device warranties, helping to minimize expenditures related to device repair and maintenance.

8. Device as a Service

With the speed at which mobile technologies are changing, some organizations opt not to own mobile devices at all, but rather to lease them for a specified period of time from an IT partner that owns and maintains them. This Device as a Service (DaaS) model gives enterprises fully supported, customized devices for a monthly subscription fee, turning what was previously a capital expense into a recurring and predictable operating expense. In a DaaS deployment, the organization’s mobility partner manages technology refreshes, secures devices, procures management software, provides help desk services and recycles devices when they reach the end of their useful life.

9. Help Desk

Even more so than desktop workers, mobile users require quick, helpful service when troubleshooting technical problems. While others might call during their downtime, mobile users may be with a client or about to board a long flight when they call for technical assistance, and they need their questions answered promptly. Not all organizations are able to provide this level of service to mobile users in-house, and choose instead to outsource help desk operations. Even organizations that have traditionally kept help desk operations in-house may find that mobile deployments present new challenges. While an IT department has full control over devices and software in a traditional PC environment, mobility gives users more control, and many help desks struggle to keep up with the array of devices and apps used by mobile workers. Outsourced help desks are able to dedicate their full attention to solving users’ tech problems and can provide 24/7 technical support.

Learn more about services for mobile devices, applications and data by downloading the white paper, "Mobility Services: Do More by Doing Less."

Ingram Publishing/THINKSTOCK