Mobility management can be cash cows for carriers

Jessica Scarpati
01 Oct 2009

“A big service provider like Verizon could contribute as much gross profit from professional services as they do from the totality of their business communications data and voice services,” he said. “The profit return on something like this is very high.”

Although Verizon may have been the first to deploy a global mobility management service, other tier one US carriers, such as AT&T, have launched similar programs domestically. Sprint does not offer services directly, but instead through manufacturers and third-party software developers the company has chosen not to disclose, a company spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, regional carriers in North America might find selling mobility management services tricky, but not impossible.

“As a rule, it's hard to make a professional services business work in a city with a population of less than about 500,000,” said Nolle, a wireless analyst. “The difficulty you're going to have in a place like Iowa is the scope of the market opportunity for you is not large enough that you can sustain this manpower requirement any better than your customers could.”

Rather than looking at enterprises headquartered in their metropolitan area, regional wireless operators should instead look to service vertical markets, he said. A regional carrier serving Des Moines, Iowa, may not have many corporate headquarters to sell to, but in the state capital, could likely win state and government contracts, Nolle said.

“It's not a niche opportunity, but it's an opportunity that like nearly all opportunities does have finite limitations,” Nolle said. “The notion here is to get your support organization up to enough size that you achieve what I'll call 'support economy of scale.'“

Given the time, labor and costs that businesses associate with mobility management ¡V and the dangers of not doing it – the market is anyone's for the taking, Weldon said. For now, tier one mobile operators will probably target enterprises for the lucrative sales deals, she said.

“Managed services is always talked about as a mid-market play and an SMB [small to medium-sized business] play because enterprises have these IT departments in-house,” she said. “I think this is a little different because wireless technology is still so fragmented. Even large enterprises have a headache with this.”

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