The Cost Perception Gap

Amid big news of earnings reports from Palm (last week) and RIM (upcoming on Thursday), the Motorola buyout of Symbol, and former WorldCom chief Bernie Ebbers heading to federal prison, I took time out this morning to read a white paper from CFO Research Services that looks at an increasingly fractious issue: the cost to businesses of mobile deployments.

The report is not hugely scientific. It's based on a survey of 92 readers of CFO magazine and 28 IT executives. But it contains some telling findings, the most interesting of which is that "Finance and IT have sharply differing views on the adequacy of finance's information on the cost of enabling mobile workers."

In other words, the CFO's office doesn't know how much IT is spending on mobile devices and services.

While almost all (just under 85 percent) of the financial officers responding to the study (which was sponsored by Fiberlink Communications Corp. ) believe that remote access is either an "essential" or "increasingly important" tool for employees throughout the company, they aren't getting enough information about what the company's actually paying for that access.

IT managers tend to disagree -- the majority of IT respondents say that finance does, indeed, have adequate information about mobility costs. If this sounds like a "Did too!" "Did not!" argument between toddlers, that's because neither side is willing to concede the obvious: that adequate mechanisms have not been established and implemented to achieve full transparency, to use the current buzzword, in mobile deployment costs. This, to put it mildly, is not a tenable situation going forward.

"As more and more companies begin to feel the pain of the cost of enabling mobile workers, it appears that good communication and close collaboration between finance and IT will be an integral part of their efforts to manage, measure, and control those costs without compromising security or productivity."

Translating that statement into psychobabble: "Communication is the key to any good relationship." Regardless of whose perception is true in the abstract, for IT pros, the adequate-information gap on costs makes it imperative to provide full, timely, and clear data on how much mobile deployments are costing, particularly on a per-employee basis.

That's true not just for the purposes of covering your rear end, but in order to insure that mobility programs move forward, increase productivity, and positively affect the bottom line. Because that, after all, is the real job of IT.

You can download the white paper, "Finance and IT's Views on the Costs of Mobile Working," by registering at the Fiberlink Website.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

rogeryang 12/5/2012 | 3:39:40 AM
re: The Cost Perception Gap We've helped many companies rein in their wireless costs, and at the start, it's always the same, whether it's an IT or Finance executive: "I think we might have about 2000 phones." or "I'd estimate that we spend about $1.5M/yr."

The actual numbers always turn out to be vastly different, often much higher.

Because wireless costs are so dispersed on many invoices with many carriers - and every user is billed differently, it's hard for anybody to get a handle on these costs, let alone manage them on an ongoing basis.

The solution? Implement technology that allows any executive to view how much is being spent, and why. Better yet, make information available on a limited basis to any employee who needs to know what his/her department or individual costs are.

Costs can be reduced by 10 to 40% by implementing spend policies. That's not even including price plan optimization or negotiating better contracts.

More information available here: http://www.avemacorp.com/wirel...

Roger Yang
Avema Corporation
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