Recent Quocirca research has identified an opportunity for resellers to help customers save money. It all comes down to recognising that mobile employees cannot be expected to automatically change the way they make and receive telephone calls when they walk through the doors of an office to join their colleagues.
More than 80 per cent of employees have a reason to be mobile at some point and for half of these being out and about is an everyday part of their job. To enable them, most businesses issue them with mobile phones.
The problem occurs once employees return to the office, where nearly all of them have a second telephone sitting on their desk. It is provided as the cheapest way to make external calls and for free communication between employees working at the some location.
The problem is that in practice staff are often using a more expensive alternative.
Look at it from the employee's point of view. One of the most widely used features of a mobile phone, other than to make voice calls, is to store telephone numbers.
An employee, even when they are sitting at their desk, is likely to use their mobile phone to make a call to a customer, supplier or some other contact, because they have the number stored on it.
Staff often divert their desk phone to their mobile phone so that they receive all calls on one device, a sensible thing to do if they are in the field.
But the desk phone often remains diverted even when the employee returns to the office and the call is transferred just a few inches, incurring the cost of an out-going call to a mobile device, where there would have been no cost at all if it had stopped at the desk phone.
Now look it from the point of view of someone trying to contact an employee. If they have both the desk and the mobile number to choose from, they will most often choose the mobile number because the employee is more likely to receive the call.
It will often be the case that the person trying to contact them is another employee, who may also be in the office.
The business is now paying for a more expensive mobile call, even if the employee being contacted is sitting at their desk and could be contacted for free on their desk phone.
Finally put these two scenarios together and you have two employees talking to each other via an expensive mobile-to-mobile telephone call even though they may be only a few metres away from each other. They are not being lazy; they might both believe the other is off at a customer site, miles away.
All they are doing is using the most convenient way of contacting each other. The problem for the business is that it is also the most expensive.
So what's to be done? The solution is not to be found in rules and regulations; the problem is not due to deliberate bad practice by the employees. The simplest option is contractual.
Service providers can offer flexible and amalgamated billing that recognises when a call is between two employees, regardless of the device they are using. Some providers are already offering this for larger businesses.
Another option requires some new technology that allows mobile phones to roam onto the in-house telephone system once the employee is in range. This could even be when they are sitting in the car park having returned from the field.
But flexible billing is a new idea and is not yet available to smaller firms. Cost savings from a technical solution may not be enough to persuade many businesses to make the required investment.
However, tying it all in with another telephony update that all organisations are going to go through at some point may well tip the balance - the switch to IP telephony.
Potentially this switch will require a new device on every desktop - an IP telephone. Throw into the mix some new kit to converge the cellular and IP networks within a given building, then all the employees with a mobile phone will not need an IP telephone.
Resellers struggling to make the case for the switch to IP telephony with a cash-strapped customer might find their value proposition has become overwhelming if the two scenarios are presented together.
Bob Tarzey is service director at Quocirca.
Quocirca (01753) 855 794
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany