With every new mobile device to hit the market, users are becoming aware of new mobile applications and services such as mobile messaging, email, video, TV and Web browsers. When these services were only available on the most expensive smart devices, adoption of sophisticated data services grew only slowly. Now, however, advanced features and services such as cameras, MP3 players, multimedia messaging, rich Web browsing, email, video and mobile TV are increasingly offered as base capabilities on more affordable mobile devices. CDMA operators are looking for ways to capitalize on this revenue opportunity by launching new data services in the mass market.
At the same time, CDMA operators are upgrading to higher bandwidth networks. As they do this, they face the key challenge of finding a scalable way to keep individual devices healthy and up to date and their users happy, while at the same time managing a broad and rapidly growing universe of devices—with many different makes and models. To support such sophisticated service offerings, CDMA operators need better ways to effectively manage their subscribers’ devices.
The types of changes mobile operators must manage vary widely, from activating and provisioning basic services to work “out of the box” when the customer first turns on his or her device, to installing, activating and configuring new services and applications. And all of this must happen without requiring the user to physically bring the phone in for service or connect it to a laptop or PC.
The fact is that configuration and setup errors can have a very negative effect on the adoption rate of new mobile data services. A large percentage of users simply give up on new services that don’t work right the first time. This has a direct negative effect on the bottom line and an equally negative effect on subscriber satisfaction. On the other hand, if these services work correctly as soon as the device is turned on, and are delivered and set up in a way that is totally transparent, customers are far more likely to use them on an ongoing basis, helping to drive up new revenues.
Many CDMA operators report that calls for problems with more advanced mobile devices can take 3-6 times as long (and can cost the operator 3-6 times as much) as calls for voice problems. And many of these problems are not resolved in a single call, elevating support costs further, and frustrating valuable subscribers. Most market data shows that the cost of providing quality customer care to mobile users is growing rapidly, at a time when the customer relationship is becoming increasingly critical to the long-term prospects of the operators. Advanced devices and new data services give mobile operators an opportunity to expand customer relationships and drive significant new revenues, but only if the customers actually adopt and use the new services, and only if those services don’t cost more to support than the revenues they bring to operators.
Enterprises are another burgeoning market for new mobile data services and applications. Many companies are finding that “going mobile” can significantly increase the productivity of many employees, helping these companies gain a competitive edge in their market. Capitalizing on this trend, CDMA operators are increasingly focused on finding ways to encourage adoption and usage of mobile data services and applications on both existing and new devices. The surest way to accomplish this is to make it as easy as possible for enterprise users to obtain, activate, support and use these applications and services.
Managing New Devices, Services and Applications
The bottom line? CDMA operators need to manage the mobile devices of their business and consumer subscribers from the time the device is first activated, through all types of updates, upgrades and support issues, until the day it is finally replaced. To do this, they need a mobile device management (MDM) platform that is as comprehensive as the range of devices, services and applications to be managed.
The first challenge comes when the user first turns on the device and tries to use the services on it. Automated, “hands-free” activation and provisioning is not a simple task. It is, however, a crucial one, as it sets the tone for the future relationship between the operator and the subscriber. Service activation, provisioning and configuration needs to happen seamlessly, automatically and invisibly; when the subscriber first turns on the device, all services and capabilities should be available and working correctly, without manual intervention or calls to Customer Care. This includes key CDMA device settings such as number assignments (NAM blocks) and preferred roaming lists (PRL). Through an MDM system that employs the OMA DM protocol, these settings can be provisioned and updated over the air quickly, efficiently and in a completely automatic manner. In addition, because MDM with OMA DM support is such a scalable and efficient mechanism, CDMA operators can send out mass PRL updates to their entire subscriber base as often as required. This process can be difficult using traditional over-the-air provisioning solutions such as OTASP and OTAPA.
The next challenge is dynamically enabling new services and applications on subscriber handsets after they are deployed. With a comprehensive MDM platform, service provisioning can be de-linked from the handset development cycle, enabling operators to distribute applications at the point of sale or while the handset is in use. As market conditions and subscriber preferences change, services can be optimized through over-the-air updates to the applications on the subscriber devices. The usage of services can be tracked and used to determine trends and preferences. And most important, application management can be applied to every device in the marketplace, enabling a proactive "push" model for offering new applications and services. This drives a more diverse set of mobile propositions for users, giving a whole new interactive dimension to the relationship between operators and their subscribers. Mobile operators can flexibly tailor packages of services to groups of subscribers across device platforms at any point. These packages can be very targeted, combining specific applications together with such things as a customized look-and-feel and menu structure.
Improving the Customer’s Support Experience
When customers call their mobile operator for support, they expect quick, accurate problem resolutions. They don’t want to be referred to a complex manual, nor do they want to play 20 questions with the person who first takes the call, only to have to answer the same questions for the next person they speak to. And they certainly do not want to bring the device to the operator’s store or service center.
An MDM platform that provides smart, real-time, remote diagnosis of device and service issues enables operators to speedily resolve a wide range of problems. With a reliable means of accessing device vital signs, diagnosing device and service problems, and sending updated settings or application components to resolve problems, not only do support costs come down, but customers are left with a positive impression. When the only direct interaction between individual customers and the operator after the initial sale is the help desk, the value of such a positive impression cannot be underestimated.
On the security front, CDMA operators can already stop calls from being made from lost or stolen devices. However, the newest feature phones and “smart” devices contain a significant amount of memory; a smartphone memory card can hold over 1 gigabyte of data. Enterprise users in particular are vulnerable to data loss, as their devices contain all kinds of information, from confidential announcements to financial results and business in progress. If a phone is stolen, the thief can still potentially access this information even if the calling option is blocked. Losing any of this information, or having it fall into the wrong hands, can result not only in lost business but also in a loss of trust between an enterprise and its valued customers. With a comprehensive MDM platform, CDMA operators can provide their subscribers—particularly enterprise customers—with the ability to back up and restore critical information if something goes wrong, and to secure data against loss by locking lost phones and wiping stolen ones clean.
Managing mobile devices is a tough and complex job—and it is only getting tougher as more sophisticated devices enter the market, more services are created and the range of network options expands from traditional mobile networks to new wireless technologies such as WiFi and WiMAX. CDMA operators must ensure they can support the widest variety of devices, operating systems and applications to meet the needs of all of their business and consumer customers. And they must manage every device from the instant the subscriber activates it—automatically activating, configuring and provisioning device capabilities and services, diagnosing and solving a wide range of problems remotely, providing the appropriate level of data and device security to each user, upgrading applications and device firmware as needed, and generally delivering a consistently high level of experience. A comprehensive mobile device management platform enables CDMA operators to take on this management challenge, helping them significantly increase revenues from new capabilities and services while providing a consistently positive experience for all of their mobile customers.
About the company
Mformation® Technologies Inc. is the market leader in mobile device management (MDM) software, offering a complete solution that enables mobile operators and enterprises to unlock the power of mobile networks, rapidly accelerate mobile data adoption, and significantly reduce support costs. Mformation provides mobile device management solutions to the largest and most demanding mobile operators around the globe, including some of the world’s most forward-thinking mobile operators, serving hundreds of millions of consumer and enterprise customers worldwide.
Through constant innovation in its device management technologies, Mformation is helping mobile operators and enterprises around the world capitalize on the enormous potential of mobile devices and services. Mformation is a key contributor to device management standards such as those from OMA, and is driving innovation through ongoing research and development to address the challenges and opportunities in emerging wireless and convergent networks. For additional information, please visit Mformation on the web at www.mformation.com.
About the Author
Matt Bancroft has more than thirteen years of marketing, strategic business development and telecommunications experience. As CMO for Mformation Technologies Inc., he manages the company’s worldwide strategic marketing efforts and leads its product management and business development activities. Prior to his role at Mformation, Matt served as vice president of business development for Flarion Technologies, a wide-area mobile broadband technology company that was acquired by Qualcomm in 2005. At Flarion, he built the global business development team from the ground up and was responsible for worldwide business development and played an integral role in the company’s marketing strategies, rapid growth and subsequent acquisition by Qualcomm.
Matt holds an MBA from Harvard University and received his Masters of Engineering and BA in Manufacturing Engineering from Cambridge University.