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December 19, 2008

Mobility Emerges as an Attractive Cost-Saver in Slower Economy


By SIP Trunking Report Editor



Amid so many gloom-and-doom predictions for the IT market in this slower economy, and maybe even because of the slowdown, one sector in telecommunications appears to be emerging strong: mobile solutions.
 
As TMCnet reported today, Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion Limited has announced a 7.9 percent increase in revenues, to $2.78 billion, for the quarter ended Nov. 29. The figure marks a 66.3 percent increase from the year-ago quarter for the BlackBerry smartphone makers, who say that the company shipped about 6.7 million smartphones during the three-month period.

 
Another company, Movero Technology, Inc. – an Austin, Texas-based group that offers Web-based mobile management – told TMCnet during an interview this week that its services are growing in demand among businesses as cost-savings in this economy become more vital.
 
Movero is led by President and Chief Executive Officer Melanie Gray, formerly an employee of the world’s largest maker of computer networking gear, Cisco Systems Inc.
 
Chris Kozup, senior manager of mobility solutions at that venerable San Jose, California-based company told TMCnet during an interview, printed in full below, that even during an economic downturn, businesses should make it a priority to ensure adequate wireless coverage, invest in device management and invest in wireless security.
 
We also talked about just how mobility cuts and streamlines expenses.
 
Our exchange follows.
 
TMCnet: Though some companies are looking to leverage technology in order to cut costs, others are eyeing a reduced IT budget as the next quarter approaches and economists call for a prolonged economic slowdown. What are some areas – within wireless networks, for example –Cisco feels businesses should avoid skimping on?
 
Chris Kozup (pictured left): Wireless technologies can help enable a truly mobile business, where employees can access resources and increase productivity without the limitations of physical location. Even during an economic downturn, IT will continue to receive requests to support an increasing wave of wireless devices and a demand for access to applications to those devices. This presents three key areas that should remain a priority for IT, and, in fact, can help lower overall expenditures in the process.
 
First, ensure adequate wireless coverage. By conducting an appropriate site survey and making sure that the network has enough capacity to meet current and future application requirements, IT can avoid time and cost of troubleshooting and responding to user complaints related to performance. IT should deploy a wireless network for performance as opposed to coverage.
 
Second, invest in device management. Industry analyst firms, like Gartner, estimate that of the IT resources spent on mobility, 80 percent is spent on supporting mobile devices. As such, there is an inverse relationship between spending on device management and the cost of supporting a growing number of wireless devices. IT should not reduce spending on device management; rather invest to ensure cost avoidance for operations.
 
Finally, invest in wireless security. The wireless network remains a key part of the enterprise network, yet must be secured to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. IT should invest in wireless intrusion prevention tools that provide comprehensive visibility into the wireless medium to mitigate the threat of rogue access points and better help the business meet regulatory compliance requirements, such as PCI and HIPAA.
 
TMCnet: Cisco CEO John Chambers has said his own company plans to invest in emerging markets through the recession in order to come out stronger. Exactly how can businesses similarly shore themselves with investments in wireless and mobility? What advice does Cisco have for businesses with mobile workforces?
 
CK: Mobility represents a number of opportunities to help businesses streamline operations and cut costs.
 
First, supporting a mobile workforce allows people to be productive irrespective of their location. Quite simply put, the tools required to support a mobile workforce help the business reduce travel expenditures and save on physical office space.
 
Many businesses are looking to wireless technologies as a way to create a more flexible, collaborative work space, one capable of supporting a greater number of employees – due to hoteling and an emphasis on more shared space – to reduce the organization’s overall expenditure on facilities, including the cost of powering facilities.
 
Finally, wireless technologies offer greater flexibility for ad hoc office spaces, reducing the time to set up and tear down. This fact allows businesses to be more agile in the selection of physical space, but also reduces the burden on IT for the delivery of communications infrastructure.
 
TMCnet: We watched Cisco officials warn this month about rising security threats from cyber-attackers. How conscious are these criminals of a decrease in IT spending and does Cisco expect them to take advantage for the lack of oversight by ramping up their spamming, phishing and botnet efforts?
 
CK: Threats and attacks are always a prevalent risk for companies and consumers. Security risk exists regardless of economic climate and spending trends. For enterprises, what is clear is that as they become more mobile and distributed, the security required for protecting people, devices, and data expands with the scope and reach of their business.
 
TMCnet: When we spoke to John Davidson and Tere Bracco about the ASR 1000 series routers, we heard about the device’s ability to support rising network demand from applications such as video and telepresence. On the one hand, telepresence saves money by reducing travel costs. On the other, many people are being called home from foreign offices or being laid off outright in this economy. In six months, we understand, more than 250 global enterprise customers purchased the ASR 1000 series routers. But, more generally, how is the economic downturn affecting Cisco clients’ interest in technologies such as telepresence?
 
CK: Cisco TelePresence has the unique ability to bring people closer together without ever leaving the office. In recent months, we’ve actually seen an increase in interest from our customers looking to cut back on travel and other expenses and improve relationships with key customers and partners. We currently have more than 250 Cisco TelePresence customers and have shipped more than 1,000 units worldwide.
 

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan