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Think Business: Building Trust in Enterprise Small Cells

Ronny A. Haraldsvik

Enterprise small cells are gaining popularity as a way to improve in-building coverage but vendors need to fully understand their enterprise customer's needs and concerns to tap into the demand for business mobility services.

Research by YouGov showed that 50% of enterprises would churn to an operator that could provide better in-building mobile coverage and capacity. And, a 2013 survey carried out by iGR revealed that 56% of IT managers at US companies with 500 or more employees would be willing to pay an increase of between 15% to 30% per employee for improved indoor cellular coverage and capacity. (See Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?)

But, to be successful in the enterprise, mobile operators need to understand the IT mindset around customer trust, security policies, and operational concerns.

A mobilized enterprise is not a destination, but an outcome of the transition from wired and wireless at work, to always-mobile connected to the enterprise IT infrastructure, whether at work or on-the-go as part of an emerging Global Area Network (GAN).

The blurring of the lines between the enterprise and service provider networks will extend the "edge" of the mobile network from the operator's core into the enterprise premise. A mobile operator managed eco system platform with presence inside the enterprise creates capex reduction opportunities for the CIOs, and a transition to a more predictable opex services relationship with mobile operators and partners, bridging the mobility value gap that exists between the mobile operators and its business customers:

  • The shift to a mobilized enterprise fundamentally transforms the enterprise IT infrastructure from 80% capex to 80% opex
  • The mobile enterprise increases services revenue opportunities for mobile operators
  • Enabling the mobile operator to be invited at the CIO's level to be a critical business partner

An important step to enable a stronger services presence inside the enterprise is the deployment of a scalable small cell system that can take on the role of a services platform point-of-presence inside the enterprise Local Area Network (LAN).

Don't ask them to buy devices that don't work inside or tell them "don't worry about it, they will work better when we tune our macro outside."

Enterprise IT wants an IT-friendly solution with no hidden IT challenges, racks of equipment, optical cabling, electric, or surprise accounting rules you cannot avoid.

Don't ask IT to retrofit their LAN IP network to fit with the macro RAN vendors network. That's a recipe for failure. Learn from high penetration of enterprise WiFi and the miniscule penetration of distributed antenna systems in medium and large enterprises worldwide. The operator who solves the in-building problem first, with trust and no hidden IT or billing surprises, has a valuable enterprise customer a very long time.

The steps to build a trusted mobile services relationship start with:

  • Deploy a flexible small cell system in the matter of days via LAN or VLAN that can scale and deliver mobility services beyond basic coverage and capacity. Prove consistently high throughput, consistently low call drop rates, and transparent reporting (build trust).
  • Easily add small cells as capacity and technology needs evolve, without replacing the original system (build credibility) Start to introduce per-employee/per month applications services based on enterprise needs: such as smart-building location and context-aware service.

According to iGR, 92% would be willing to pay an even higher increase if the solution included managed services such as mobile device management (MDM), context-/location-aware services, WiFi, hosted unified communications (UC) and cloud and/or PBX integration.

Enterprise IT is all about trust-building. Start with coverage and capacity, and services will come. A 2013 research study by Exact Ventures revealed a $100 billion market opportunity for mobile operators in providing mobility services for enterprise customers. The research showed that enterprise customers could save 35% a year by adopting such operator-delivered managed and hosted services.

— Ronny Haraldsvik, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer, SpiderCloud Wireless

Twitter: @haraldsvik

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