The “Bad” Side of Smartphones

In my blog last week I talked about the strategies some companies are following to ensure the security of important data in the devices of their employees.  Now I want to focus more into what possible problems smartphones bring into a business and how a company could prevent or fix this problem.

Some of the possible problem are:

  • Mobile phones could represent a high cost for the business
  • It could generate a problem for the IT department because of the different operating system the smartphones have.
  • Not all the applications that could be useful for the company are for every type of smartphones.
  • The company could lose very important data.
  • They are expensive devices.
  • There aren´t really for everyone.  The can be difficult to understand.
  • Smartphones could also be a very big distraction for the workers.

From the list above I would like to focus more into the high cost these devices could bring to a company.

1. Background

First of all I would like start saying a little bit more about an smartphone, what are they? How do they work? Since when exists in the market an smartphone?

Smartphones have been growing in popularity for the past ten years.  But the first was launched in 1993.  The difference between then and now is that by that time the smartphones were primarly used by business professionals and were mostly very expensive.

The Simon was the first attempt by the tech industry of a smartphone.  This phone had incorporated voice and data services into one package, the device worked also as a mobile phone, a PDA and even a fax machine, it had even a touch screen that could be used to dial phone numbers.  The price of The Simon was around $899, it was a real luxury to have one.

Beginning 2002 the RIM company entered the mobile phone market with its BlackBerry 5810, a phone with the ability to get an e-mail and surf the Web.  The downside of this device is that you needed to plug in a headset in order to talk on the phone until 2004, that the BlacBerry 6210 came out.

By 2007 Apple releases its new revolutionary device “the iPhone”.   This device has a integrated touchscreen display with a really good web-browser, that is still consider as one of the best offered on a mobile device.  In the Fall of that same year Google unveils the Android, a device with a different operating system but practically with the same features than another smartphone.

2. Current Conditions

Nowadays the smartphones´prices fluctuate between €100 and €1000 depending on the year of the smartphone.  If you buy now one that was launched in 2008, it would be much, but much cheaper than one that was launched in the past last year.

The new smartphones have improved operating system, completely new features, and they work faster than the old ones.

3. Goals/Targets

The goal is trying to get useful smartphones that increases the productivity of your business at a low cost.

4. Analysis

To be able to achieve their goals, the company needs to consider if it’s better to let their employees to use their own smartphones, if they have one, or to give them one because is necessary for them to do a better work.

5. Proposed Countermeasures

The company needs to keep in mind all the pros and cons of using a personal phone or one provided by the company.  What will result cheaper?  Remember if it treats about a private device, notice all the possible risk that it might bring and what will the company cover from their monthly bill, or if it is a business one, which smartphone then should you provide to your employee.

Another thing companies should have in considerations are:

  • Where should I buy the phone? Directly from the manufacturer or with a long term contract at the wireless service provider such as O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile, etc.
  • Which kind of mobile phone package should I purchase?
  • What is going to be the specific function of this cell phone?  Is it just to call, is it to receive emails, is it to get calls, etc.
  • Is it really the adequate one for my workers?

6. Plan

To be able to choose the best mobile phone package, it is crucial to consider what your needs are.  A package that is perfect for one business may be completely wrong for another.  The two most important factor in choosing a mobile phone package are:

  • Who you call?
  • How much you call?
  • Pre-payment

6.1. Who you call?

The calls of mobile phones calls vary considerably depending on the type of phone called.  Phone calls to landlines and to the same network are cheaper than calling other mobile phone networks.

For these reason buy better then the same network for all your employees, this will not only reduce call charges significantly, it may also give your employees enough spending power to be able to negotiate a small discount.  If the majority of people you or your employees would be contacting are landlines, then it would be better to look for a package which offers cheap landline rates or a number of landline/same network minutes included.   If your contacts are based across a number of mobile networks, then it would make sense to look for a package that offers a good cross network rate or includes a number of inclusive minutes to all networks.  If the calls are all national or international, look for a plan that suits you better, like a number of inclusive minutes to all networks for a specific country, or for a whole region, or a continent, or to include some oversees countries.  These are most expensive, but will work out cheaper compared to the actual call costs.

6.2. How much you call?

The monthly rental cost of packages vary considerably along with the call charges.  The more you pay in monthly charges, the more inclusive minutes you get, and the more you save on call costs.  However there is no point paying for 10,000 inclusive minutes a month, when you only expect to use 500.  Many packages allows you to split the inclusive minutes over several phones, which works out more efficiently for businesses with several mobile phone users.   Mostly for businesses you are able to change the package you are on every month or two.  So if you choose a package is too expensive, you can move to a different one.

6.3. Pre-payment

Some businesses use a system of pre-payment for their mobile phones, this consists on “paying as you go”.  All this calls are paid for in advance.   You buy credit and added to the phone, and calls are made until this credit runs out.   This kind of service is advertise more for consumer service, not a business service.  But if you are just a small business and any package really suits you, because at the end the will result much more expensive, this in an alternative you should consider.

The main advantage of pre-payment is that you only pay for what you use.  There are not monthly charges, and there is no need for any contract.  The main disadvantage is that call charges are more expensive than contract phones, and there are no inclusive minutes.  The is also the risk that calling credit will run out in the middle of an important conversation.

If however, your business needs a phone for incoming calls only, or makes only a small number of short calls, then pre-pay services will more than likely work out cheaper.

7. Followup

To have a better result and to be able to minimize your cost, check each month for a period of time if the package that you got for your employees and for yourself are really the adequate for you.  Maybe you need a package with more inclusive minutes, or maybe one with less, and remember always think, who you call and how often do you call?  These two questions will help you reduce your bills considerably.  Also keep in mind the different kinds of providers, look up for promotions, special offers, compare them and find out which one suits better to your business.

In this post I informed you about the evolution of the smartphone through the time and I gave some tips on how companies could reduce their monthly costs with the right mobile package depending the type of business they run.