While mobile devices are only becoming more essential to getting work done in the 21st century, managing a skyrocketing inventory of them is becoming frustratingly complex.
Organizations of all shapes and sizes are more than happy to hand over the work of procuring devices, provisioning them, supporting them, negotiating carrier contracts, managing costs, and crafting and enforcing mobile policies to expert third parties.
As one CIO told a Gigaom research report, “I don’t know anything about negotiating rate plans or employee chargebacks, and honestly, I don’t want to.”
According to the Gigaom report, 17.2 percent of companies surveyed in 2014 were working with managed mobility services providers — and 31.5 percent more were actively considering it. Is your business one of them?
The Big Names in MMS
Managed mobility services have only been around for a decade or so (remember, the first iPhone didn’t appear until 2007). The industry is still quite fragmented, with hundreds of companies of varying sizes vying for a piece of the soon-to-be $20 billion market.
But already, certain managed mobility services providers have established themselves as the “big names” in the industry. This includes MMS providers land other vendors that include mobility services among a more expansive menu of telecom offerings. Joining these companies are household names like AT&T and IBM.
Some of these companies are featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed Mobility Services. However, admittance onto Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is limited to companies of a certain size.
As we’ll see, when it comes to MMS vendors, bigger is not always better.
Three Considerations Before Going With a Larger Vendor
If you’re choosing a managed mobility provider for your company, it can be tempting to go with one of the better known names. You can hardly be faulted for taking your chances with the market leader, which manages nearly 5.5 million devices worldwide, according to Gartner. Or even less risky, going with a carrier like AT&T, whose name is already on your phone bills.
But here are a few reasons to expand your MMS search beyond the Magic Quadrant:
1. Large Companies Have High Turnover
Working with large companies almost necessarily means witnessing a high rate of employee turnover. Think about how many reps you’ve had over the years with your wireless carrier. You would likely experience the same thing with a large managed mobility services provider.
For some services, turnover is no big deal. But in the fast-moving, ever-changing wireless industry, deep institutional knowledge can mean the difference between an ill-suited carrier contract and tens of thousands in savings.
2. Roll-Ups Can Cause Problems
Many of the MMS companies were formed when investors bundled together (or rolled up) several smaller companies.
These mega-mergers can give companies increased influence, but for their customers, it can be disconcerting. When three or more companies combine, they must also integrate their systems to present a unified, streamlined experience to customers. Often, platform integration can take years, and this can lead to instability, as customers must become accustomed to a new way of doing business.
3. Big-Name MMS Providers Are Constantly Churning
One of the best questions you can ask a potential managed mobility services provider is, “How long has your average customer stayed with you?” At a larger provider, you’ll likely find a churn rate of 20 percent or more (possibly due to low customer satisfaction, high turnover, and constant acquisitions). To stay in business, they must become marketing engines, focused on promoting themselves to new customers rather than providing value to existing customers.
If you’re planning on choosing an MMS providers, think about whether you want to go through the whole process again next year — because if you choose a supplier for the wrong reasons, you may find yourself doing just that.