Over the last 20 years, the mobile telecoms scene has evolved dramatically. Now, as we navigate a period of accelerated change, Opus’ new mobile sales director, Juliette Lee, reveals how looking back is key to unlocking a brighter mobile future.
Today, most of us use our business phones as portable offices, enabling all kinds of core capabilities without which we would struggle to work. But it wasn’t always this way. When Juliette first started down her mobile journey, Mercury One2One was leading the curve, wholesale partners had just been created and the 3 series was a twinkle in Nokia’s eye.
“We’re talking about your basic mobile device with very limited functions”, Juliette explains. “Back then, the networks had a monopoly on mobile telecoms. The introduction of wholesale partners challenged that. They opened up the market. That’s where I started.”
To succeed, those first partners needed to provide value above and beyond that delivered by the networks themselves. They needed to be more agile and they needed to put service first.
Now, as we navigate an accelerated period of global disruption and many IT heads realise their mobile estate is no longer fit for purpose, the yardsticks by which those wholesale pioneers had to differentiate themselves once again ring true.
“Anyone who’s worked in the mobile sector for as long as I have gained a unique insight into how every single service layer is created”, Juliette explains. “From my first roles in customer service, I followed a career path that enabled me to learn mobile at every level, and that’s hugely valuable to my clients because I understand their journey. They’re in safe hands.”
What does that journey look like today? How does it challenge your existing mobile estate and why is Opus the right partner to help you adapt?
Mobile estate management is changing
“The shift in global working habits as seen over the last 18 months has directly impacted both the demands that businesses are placing on their mobile estates and their perceived value.
“For the first time in my 22 years in mobile, businesses are taking an active interest in how the mobiles are being used and what levels of usage are being generated. This kind of focus is usually reserved for the mobile spend,” Juliette reveals. “They’re looking for new levels of insight and granularity because they want to ensure that they’re making the right business decisions.”
Once upon a time, ‘the right business decisions’ meant qualifying by price, but that’s also changing.
“COVID-19 created a race to the bottom,” Juliette explains. “Understandably, many businesses didn’t know if they were going to survive. Others streamlined mobile costs to avoid making cuts elsewhere.”
Now, faced with the ‘new normal’, many IT leaders are sitting back and reviewing those price-driven decisions because:
- the value promised has not materialised
- it’s unclear what has been bought
- they are not as cost-effective as they thought they’d be
“Anything that goes through your mobile has a hidden cost”
As more and more businesses find themselves caught in that race to the bottom, Juliette has seen a growing number of pricing pitfalls across the industry. For example, businesses who try to reduce mobile costs using ‘workarounds’ may actually find the monthly bill increases due to hidden costs.
One such misconception is that they can leverage apps to reduce their mobile costs. A business with large amounts of international travel might push the use of an app with call capabilities in order to avoid roaming charges, for example.
“But anything that goes through your mobile has a hidden cost”, Juliette explains. “Apps still require data. So if you’re not on a Wi-Fi hotspot — which raises security implications of its own — and you’re using your device to access an app, this could be a potential data drain. In a worst-case scenario, the tariff plan may be completely consumed, causing overage charges. Either way, you’re still paying a rental for an allowance of data. Data is not free.”
Unlimited data plans can be enticing, but they come at a premium — and there are still hidden costs to watch out for.
“You’ll still be capped when you roam, after which you’ll be charged out of bundle rates, and international call charges can be sky-high. The networks have sophisticated pricing strategies, make no mistake. So, again, many businesses have this misconception that they’re getting everything in one. That can sometimes lead to quite a shock when your bill arrives.”
“Mobile more emotive than ever”
Bill shock is just one way in which mobile resonates with businesses today. Few areas within a company’s technology stack are simultaneously less glamorous and more emotive.
“Professionally and personally, our mobile phones play a central role in our lives”, Juliette says. “We gravitate towards the latest handsets but our perception of the data plans powering them are more in line with those of a utility. We expect network access and strong connectivity, wherever we go. And when a business can’t deliver that, everyone from the CEO to the cleaning staff doing their rounds in the evening feel that frustration.”
For the people in charge of managing the company’s mobile telecoms, this creates a complex web of service expectations, price points and stakeholder involvement.
How can you balance a comprehensive data plan aligned to your requirements, and the desire for the flashiest handsets, with a modest budget, never mind the need for visible ROI?
Key takeaways for better mobile estate management
For a business to come close to satisfying all those directives, a forward-thinking approach to mobile estate planning is essential. Viewed through a long-term lens, cost-saving has become less about a contract’s price tag and more about the long-term value it can deliver.
What does Juliette recommend for businesses looking to optimise their mobile estate?
“Take a breath and evaluate the journey. Where were you before, during and after COVID? Take stock of your business’ mobile demands. Explore the market. And I think in general, because the future’s so unclear, consider working with a partner to help you negotiate the best mobile contract for your business. Because that’s what we’re here for.”
- How was your organisation managing its mobile estate pre-COVID?
- How did that change during the height of the pandemic
- What is your mobile estate doing for you now?
In many cases, mobile service partners like Opus play a vital role in helping businesses to answer these questions.
“I’ve always been interested in future-proofing the product”, Juliette explains. “It’s so much more capable of delivering powerful ROI scenarios. As more businesses reach out to us for personalised mobile solutions, they’re going to experience whole new levels of mobile insights and long-term returns on their investment.”
“It takes an ecosystem around you to drive success”
Already, Juliette is taking steps to elevate Opus’ business mobile offerings to better service our customers and meet today’s changing market needs. The Opus’ mobile portfolio already gives all our customers choice when it comes to finding the right plan, while an upgraded portal offers greater transparency, making it easier than ever for you to dive into your mobile estates. And when you do want support, the whole mobile team is here to help.
“I’ve always been empathetic with the teams around me”, Juliette stresses. “All the work we do is a team effort and I know our clients will feel that, as well. I don’t do this on my own. It takes an ecosystem around you to drive success. Perhaps because I’ve experienced every rung on the mobile ladder, I know how hard the team works to support our clients.”
A lot has changed since Juliette first answered the call of mobile telecoms, but the importance of that human element remains.
Businesses reach out to us because they want to get the best out of their mobile financial commitment. But they stay with us because we’re a like-minded partner with a strong partnership ethos, and we want to go on that mobile journey with you.
“Talk to my team and me about your plans for the business. Where do you see it going? How do we align with that, and how do we help you achieve those goals? Because every partner should empower their clients to hit their ambitions. That’s the most important thing we can do. Every tool we give you has to deliver that and using the expanse of my experience, that’s something I believe I bring to the table and will empower my team to do the same.”