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Are mobiles the only mobile asset you should control?


Are mobiles the only mobile asset you should control?


The value of mobile phones and mobile devices has become increasingly tied to the apps they run, and this is changing business (and business management) in many ways.

Usage and charging has become more complex, and providing and controlling mobility has become a larger task for enterprises. Enterprises need to manage procurement, analysis, benchmarking, reporting, optimising, validation, security and many other aspects of their fleets.

Remember when mobiles used to be, ‘ehhhh, mobiles’ ? People made calls, received calls and had that killer app called SMS. Not only are those days over, but phone calls and SMS are now amongst the lower value aspects of a smartphone’s uses.

Smartphones and their apps hold the promise of helping people to be more effective and efficient. In some circles that just means longer hours, but in a well executed, proper enterprise deployment it does mean a better end customer experience hand in hand with revenue and sales growth, and cost saving.

Like my plumber who came in to fix my tap and was short of a part. He checked availability at his closet depot, went and picked it up, fixed my problem, completed the work order, took my payment and emailed me a completion email and receipt – all from his tablet. Now that was cool.

So if it’s all about the apps, then why is it that in this age of the Internet of Things, when we talk about mobility we still think about mobile phones and tablets?

Any mobilised asset, when coupled with the possibility of variable uses, requires LOTS of management. In the world of apps, this is not just restricted to phones and tablets. In fact, its not even restricted to IT at all. If it’s a mobile device, instrument or asset that has user-initiated (a person or an app) and user-influenced variable usage, then the management challenge is significant.

Just like smartphones and tablets, Smartbill® treats procurement cards as variable-use assets too. We include corporate vehicles too (talking about fuel consumption in addition to vehicle tracking), as well as any M2M-monitored service (such as smart meters measuring gas or electricity, pumps measuring water levels, or controlling security cameras). This approach is important, as it allows an enterprise to use one common system to manage and control all variable-usage assets, without missing important parts of the process.

And that process (managing variable-usage assets) becomes a whole lot more complicated when you add multiple variants of asset ownership. Is the asset owned by the enterprise, or is it leased, or is it cross-subsidised by usage, or is it rented? Or perhaps it is owned by the employee using it (BYOD) and the enterprise doesn’t own it at all. Today, all of these combinations are common, sometimes all together in the same enterprise at the same time. All this change poses the question: in the mobility world, what is an asset anyway?

John Deere, a tractor manufacturer, certainly has a view on this. In an extreme example of how the lines between hardware (a tractor) and the enabling software can be blurred, John Deere claims that “… farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.” You can read about it here.

With that background, let’s have a look at the landscape of an enterprise’s assets in order to run operations (yes, we have a quadrant diagram!):

four balls

Management complexity increases when as asset (whoever owns it) can generate variable usage charges. When a variable –usage asset is also mobile, then management complexity increases again.

For mobile & variable usage assets, we have found that an enterprise will need and use our capabilities in order to effectively get visibility, control and insight for each category. Exception management is a good example. An exception event may be the most expensive call type or video fetch by time (for a smartphone), the largest out-of-category purchase by location (for a procurement card), or a 120 litre refuelling on a vehicle with a 65 litre tank (for a vehicle).

In today’s world of Everything and Anything as a Service, don’t limit yourself to the world of mobiles. When talking mobility and variable usage, think holistically and achieve a better outcome by leveraging the same platform across all your variable usage assets.

Is your Expense Management System up to the challenge?


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