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Mobile expense management
Taking the big picture view
By: Quocirca
Published: May 2010
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Managing mobile costs is a challenge for all organisations, especially as responsibilities and budget authority may often sit in several places-IT, finance, personnel, managers and, of course, the employees themselves. This situation becomes even more complex and problematic for those organisations that span across countries or have to use multiple suppliers within one country. Getting to grips with these costs in a way that does not undermine the value of mobile flexibility is paramount, and organisations need to gather sufficient detail to effectively manage and analyse their mobile costs.

Introduction:
In less than a couple of decades, the mobile phone has moved from a clunky accessory for city types to a ubiquitous communications tool. Although phones are cheaper and more powerful than ever, the ongoing airtime costs grow in direct proportion with usage and can soar while roaming, despite volume discounts and flat rate tariffs. Handsets are easy to buy, users are fully accustomed to their use so, for business in particular, costs are escalating.

There are many factors driving this:

More users: many different job roles now demand a company-issued mobile phone, or for the employer to at least pay the bill.

Beyond voice: no longer is a simple phone sufficient-there is vastly increased use of mobile email devices, smartphones with internet access and laptops with a dongle-so data growth is outstripping voice.

Fixed to mobile: even next to a cheaper to use desktop phone, most employees find a mobile phone more convenient. Not only is it always with them, it has all their contacts contained in easy to navigate address books.

Consumer impact: as a constant part of daily life, the mobile has become an extension of personality. At one time simply ringtones, it now includes features from cameras to social networking and applications.

Operator push: margins-for voice in particular-are declining in many markets, and operators are under pressure to grow Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). While it is hard to drive up individual prices, it is in operators' interests to bundle, combine, and sometimes confuse, with tariff propositions.

Employees recognise that mobile phones are powerful tools which can add great value, but this comes at a cost. Businesses have to understand and take control of those costs right across their organisation to ensure they are not excessive, disproportionate or incorrectly levied.

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