Organisations will soon be supporting more mobile phones than desktop phones. In North America, the transition is expected to be complete by 2011.
According to Gartner analysts, although most users will still also have a desktop phone, mobile phones will become more prevalent and replace desktop voice hardware to become the primary device.
"The adoption and standardisation of corporate-liable mobile phones has been driven by the use of smartphones, wireless e-mail and the integration of these phones into IP telephony systems, while improved in-building coverage and lower mobile service costs have also played a part," says Phil Redman, research vice-president at Gartner.
Redman says that as spending on mobile communications services grows, and soon overtakes that of wired voice services, organisations will need to plan how they manage usage, support and costs. Although mobile hardware costs are generally less than desktops, mobile services can still cost five times more than a business-wired call and this could represent a huge shift in budget for corporate communications services.
Gartner recommends a four-step plan for organisations to ensure a smooth transition to mobility:
* Plan – It's important to plan how and when the business will support mobile technologies in the organisation, decide who gets mobile voice and data and what the impact on cost structure will be. Many providers are willing to add additional wireless coverage for little or no cost, although this may mean consolidating to a primary provider to get the best deals and to ensure that everyone has the same carrier. As this transition occurs, Gartner advises using network convergence and services that transcend fixed and mobile service plans. Businesses should also be aware that more capable mobile phones will drive the need to support other applications, which could impact other IT areas such as application development or security and their budgets.
* Procure – During the next few years, contract negotiation is a good time to institute new fixed and mobile plans. Businesses should look at zoned billing, flat-rate unlimited and mobile-to-mobile to reduce the cost of cellular calling. In the US, Gartner is starting to see, for large businesses, bundled, unlimited flat-rate calling for voice and data services at up to 25% off list prices. Lower service-costs will be a big driver for moving traffic from fixed to mobile.
* Manage – As the transition from fixed to mobile occurs, businesses need to have a solid policy that addresses usage, costs, standards and security. IT working with the business groups should specify exactly who gets mobile services and how much will be spent in a thorough mobile policy. Mobile device platforms should be standardised so that application development and support can be centralised and more easily managed. Businesses also need to prepare the help desk for supporting a more challenging user, which could mean employing specialised technicians.
* Remove – Organisations should have policies and procedures to remove unnecessary desk phones to reduce hardware and operating costs. This will ensure that the user has a one-number service, a softphone and a single voice mail, so that he or she can efficiently work without a desk phone. Gartner suggests making an annual count so that licensing fees can be rectified to reduce costs and surplus desk phones used for incoming non-mobile users.