The Lifecycle of Mobile Asset Management – ITAM Strategies for a Global Market

By Chaudhary Shoaib

Mobile Market Overview

The mobile market covers a large portfolio of products including cellphones, tablets, notebooks, camcorders, MP3 Players, GPS Devices, and Sensors (embedded). With 87% of the world’s population with a mobile device, smartphones a dominating type, with 1.8 Billion smartphones in use and 1.5 Million activations per day. The change in usage is highlighted by the fact that 33% of US households no longer have a land-line.

Revenue for manufacturers also points to the dominance of the smartphone, with Samsung expecting to sell 10 million Galaxy S4 units per month and Apple shipping 9.5 million iPhone 5s within the first week of launch.

ITAM and Mobile Management

How does life cycle management maximize ROI for ITAM? An effective mobile devices program can be a competitive advantage for any size organization by increasing productivity and, in turn, significantly contributing to maximizing ROI for the overall ITAM program. When choosing an ITAD vendor, consider the following key performance indicators:

Finance: As technology miniaturizes and technological obsolescence accelerates for select products, the dynamic global aftermarket can be leveraged. By arbitraging the global market, an ITAD vendor can provide solutions that increase ROI while mitigating the data and e-waste liabilities.

Risk: Data and e-waste liabilities have grown exponentially, which in turn has elevated brand protection to the forefront. ITAD vendors can apply a systematic methodology to each step of the reverse supply chain to ensure custodial control, timely reporting, consistent processing, effective resale and compliant recycling while providing deliverables throughout the process.

Productivity: Working with an ITAD vendor with embedded professional experience positions the organization to free up resources, thus becoming more productive. The ITAD vendor’s solutions should also be process-engineered and designed to garner productivity gains which further increase ROI.

Effective Enterprise Mobile Strategy

Mobile web applications have rapidly become a key to competitive positioning. As mobile strategies evolve, they must ensure data integrity, security, and both cross application and cross-device quality and performance optimization. Organizations need to accelerate the delivery of secure mobile applications to increase employee productivity, reduce operating costs, improve customer relationships, and generate new revenue opportunities. An effective enterprise mobile strategy must include an approach to creating secure end-to-end mobile applications and leveraging third-party software appropriately.

A frequent component of an effective enterprise mobile strategy is the BYOD program. When designing the BYOD program, a number of benefits should be understood:

Management flexibility: BYOD eases the management burden by eliminating the need to select and manage a provider and plan. There is no need to monitor employee telecom usage data for overages or other extras.

Cost savings: In addition to the reduced overhead costs of managing a corporate phone plan, corporations also save money due to the lower costs associated with individually managed call, data, and SMS plans.

Maximized employee performance: Employees are more likely to be productive while traveling or working away from the office if they are comfortable with their device. This creates greater employee contentment.

Employees are often partial to a certain device, platform or service provider, and are much more content. They do not appreciate being forced to use a device with which they are not comfortable.

Simplified IT Infrastructure: BYOD eliminates or reduces the requirement for IT personnel to administer a mobile plan. And it reduces the strain on IT help desks since end-users are responsible for coordinating support through their mobile provider.

The simplified IT infrastructure benefit does not mean that IT is not involved since IT administers the Mobile Device Management program, described next.

Managing Mobility 

Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions leverage platform services provided by the mobile operating system or device manufacturer and allow IT to manage mobile devices whether the devices are corporate-owned or BYOD.

MDM capabilities include:

  • Device provisioning
  • Management of configuration settings
  • Inventory/Asset management
  • Software distribution (apps, operating systems)
  • Authentication and certificate management
  • Reporting and analytics on devices
  • Policy compliance

MDM solutions also leverage platform security services such as remote wipe/lock. Shortcomings of MDM services include:

  • MDM security controls are limited to device security services
  • Security controls vary between the mobile operating systems. For example, Android devices do not support hardware data encryption, while iOS does. Without a cross-platform standard, IT is challenged to protect corporate data
  • MDM policies are implemented at the device level, which interferes with personal use
  • MDM solutions require a password to the device itself rather than the email application, often resulting in weak passwords
  • Remote wipe could erase personal apps and data in addition to the corporate data and applications

Consumer apps are especially challenging for most MDM solutions. Policy controls and data encryption cannot address potential security risks that lie within the applications themselves. Organizations can overcome MDM shortcomings by using Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions to set and manage security policies at the device and application level. A Mobile Application Management solution:

  • Allows IT to lock down specific apps instead of the whole device
  • Enables IT to distribute, manage, and audit corporate apps
  • Enhances the BYOD users experience
  • Especially in the event of a remote wipe, IT can limit the wipe to the corporate data, leaving personal data on the employee’s own device
Strong Global Aftermarket for Mobile Assets

Mobile assets are being refreshed faster (in 18-24 months) than the typical IT asset timeline of 36 to 48 months.

In most cases, the actual value of the “retired” device is higher than the perceived value of such equipment because of the soaring global demand. The light weight nature of these devices also fosters a huge and expanding aftermarket for mobile devices.

If repairs are needed, they often require new plastics and components commonly available in manufacturing regions, which reduces repair time and cost, increases yield and speeds the resale. Sales and value received are thus maximized through access to multi-channel resale capabilities and applies equally to BYOD or corporate-owned assets.

Best Practices for Disposal

ITAD vendors should offer a portal for trading in mobile devices. This approach serves both corporate-owned and employee (BYOD) assets and can provide real-time valuations for trade-ins offers that are NOT limited to service upgrades or credits. The service should include convenient asset return shipping programs and compliant data eradication protocols. Use of one portal for all corporate employees applies the services of consistent testing and quality refurbishment capabilities as well as adherence to green recycling policies for all recycled material.

When choosing to work with a disposal vendor, request the following documents from your vendor to satisfy the finance and legal departments within your organization:

  • Audit Report – detail of all products received by load (includes serial number, manufacturer, model, configuration, condition, assigned grade, and more); also includes Certificate of Recycling to confirm the responsible recycling of electronic waste
  • Certificate of Data Destruction – indicates data eradication measures performed on each asset containing storage media (includes serial number, asset description, eradication method and date)
  • Certificate of Recycling – depicts equipment details of all assets recycled
  • Resale Credit Report – a detail of all products sold including the sale amount less commission fees
Case Study Examples

The best way to demonstrate the success of this approach is to share a few successful mobile implementations:

Dish Network (Smart Mobility): 15,000 techs respond to 23,000 appointments / day. They replaced tablet PCs and GPS devices with Samsung Galaxy Note phablets. The result was reduced training for technicians, less reboots, increased battery life, eliminated PC repair costs 1st year savings translated in more than $2 million

Proctor and Gamble (Paperless In-Store Selling): Sales reps sell 300 brands and they replaced binders with iPads for sales apps. The resultant benefit included rear time order integration, store audits, and multimedia presentations, reduced printing and paper costs. Selling time was increased by 12,000 hrs over 5,000 sales calls/week which is equal to $22 and resulted in annual savings $3 million

In the final analysis, mobility and the use of mobile device is here to stay. There is no doubt that the use of mobile devices can increase productivity, reduce cost, enhance customer service and an employee’s relationship with external customers and within the organization. However, the greatest benefit is harvested when corporate management is aware of the risks and works with a partner who understands the complexities of implementing mobile strategies with a complete life cycle perspective, who closes security gaps for any sort of data breach and offers specialty functionality for mobile programs such as an online portal for standardizing trade-in and disposal.

About the Author

Shoaib Chaudhary is the CEO, President of SpruceIT.