The Challenges of a Global Enterprise Mobility Program

It’s a new year, and your mobility program looks good. The right balance of internal management and external partnerships have delivered on employee satisfaction and competitiveness — and all within fiscal expectations. It’s not an unrealistic situation for many organizations with mature mobility programs. 

However, if we zoom out, the picture is not normally so sanguine when looking across national borders. This is true even for organizations that don’t consider themselves international enterprises and simply work across the border to Canada. 

Many strategic mobile application initiatives stall at the border as if there were a Dark Ages sign that said “here be dragons.” However, corporations still must thrive in a competitive market that may feel like a world of dragons as cultures, regulations, and languages shift with surprising quickness. 

Where We Have Been

For more than a decade, organizations large and small have turned to telecom expense management companies (TEMs) to gain control of their global mobile operator spend and gain efficiencies cross borders with largely positive results.

That decade was largely the decade of email and CRM on mobile devices for white-collar employees with trendy names and fuzzy ROIs at best. Smartphones were subsidized, mobile applications were extensions of browser or desktop enterprise software, and mobile operator expenses for voice and data plus additional fees (think roaming) were a disproportionate amount of the mobility program “spend.” Certainly exceptions abound, especially in warehouse and supply chain operations, but that presages the mass migration from the WinCE ecosystem to Android as well as the merging of the enterprise support ecosystem. 

Where We’re At Today

Today with the deployment of mobile applications as line of business tools (e.g. Amazon PrimeNow, inflight payments, hospitality guest room attendants, bedside care, home healthcare, retail concierge, rental car check-in, etc.) proliferating on both consumer devices and purpose-built devices, the proverbial tool belt is now digital. The mobile device is a tool with one or more enterprise applications.

These tools are not for employees’ downtime for Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and online shopping using sophisticated restrictions through unified endpoint management (UEM) and point solution systems. 

In today’s world, the smartphone or tablet easily eclipses the $1,000/€900 threshold, increasingly are sourced from traditional channels versus the mobile operator, have a longer upgrade cycle (an iPhone 6S still runs iOS 13), and require mission-critical support (email and CRM never were mission-critical for the 99%) as well as a robust system to maintain the devices that those mission-critical digital tools run on. 

It’s not practical nor sustainable to throw devices away and replace them with “free” subsidized devices when the inevitable life happens. It’s a question of when life happens, not if — broken screens, loss/theft, catastrophic damage, wear and tear, failing batteries, and more.

Global Programs Complicate Things Further

Combine the above factors with a complex ecosystem of hardware and peripherals across national borders, and it’s easy to see how things can start to spiral. In real life, programs suffer from multiple harsh realities: lack of global markets knowledge at a central location, vendor fragmentation of geographies, managerial purview, internal transfer of payments processes, multiple currencies, and skyrocketing costs through duplication and inefficiency. Any number of these factors work against the enterprise manager and necessitate a robust managed asset partner, lest the program drown in bespoke fragmented processes and vendors.

If anybody ever tells you in a meeting that they do global everywhere, that meeting should be stopped on the spot. Having worked with multi-nationals to deploy and support mobile devices across five of the six continents, nobody covers all 195. This includes dozens of managed service providers and the largest global system integrators and consulting firms. Not even close. Full stop.

That said, most deployments represent a concentration of devices in key geographies primarily in the European Union and the United States. This is not to minimize LATAM, MEA, India, China, or southeast Asia. It’s simply supported by empirical data. There are of course exceptions such as Chinese or Indian corporations deploying at scale in their respective home markets. Japan is another notable market that requires its own solutions.

Have You Experienced Challenges Like These?

Developing, launching, and managing a global enterprise mobility program is no easy feat. It requires extensive planning and strategy. At TRG, our team works with global organizations every day to develop solutions that help them cross borders and navigate regulatory complexities so they can get their program launched as efficiently as possible. If you’d like to learn more about our capabilities, fill out the form below.

Stay tuned for our next post on scaling a global mobility program, in which we discuss multinational structure, customs challenges, and how mobile operators have made device management more difficult.