Sprint Launches Mobility-as-a-Service Solution

By CIOReview | Friday, July 24, 2015
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 FREMONT,CA: As businesses struggle with BYOD, managing employee issued smart phones and tablets and experience  continuing pressure to simplify and manage operational expenses, choosing the right plan for corporate issued devices and  managing those devices is critical.  As such, business decision-makers and IT managers continue to rely on their wireless  carrier and other vendors to support with a number of value-added services to reduce complexity and better manage workplace  technology.Compass Intelligence’s CEO, Stephanie Atkinson met  John Tudhope, Director of Product Marketing ,Sprint  Business to discuss the newly launched MaaS solutions.Below are the details of the Q&A session :

 Could you please tell me about your role in the Sprint Business Organization? How long have you been with Sprint, and  your primary responsibilities?

 I’m responsible for product marketing of our services and devices across both business and consumer postpaid segments.  In my role I work to define customer needs for products and then work closely with product development, marketing and sales to ultimately launch new products and services into the market.  I’ve been with Sprint since February, 2000, when I started with Nextel Communications.  I came over to Sprint’s headquarters at the time of the merger in 2005.

When did Sprint officially launch the OfficeFuel brand and begin its rollout of business “as a service” solutions?

Sprint launched its new business branding in Q3 last year (2014).  It was not a major overhaul, but a refinement of our core strengths around service support and an extenuation of buying technology in an 'as a service' fashion.  We already had built an early 'as a service' portfolio with our capabilities in UCaaS and in our SaaS offerings with Microsoft and Google.  Workplace as a Service was on the horizon and is a major proof point of our Office Fuel portfolio as it is converged and fully managed as a service offering.

In March 2015, as part of  OfficeFuel solutions, you made a formal launch for Workplace as a Service (WaaS) even though these services were available prior, and this week (4 months later) you are officially launching Mobility as a Service (MaaS) plans for business customers. Could you please describe the correlation and background around the OfficeFuel solutions ?

It’s fair to say that components of Workplace as a Service were available prior to the launch.  However, what was different with WPaaS was the fully integrated and managed aspect of the services into one defined offer with one bill and at one single per-seat price point.  It also was a unique combination of wireline and wireless capabilities that all come fully managed by Sprint.  This is the real differentiation of WPaaS and it provides great value to the customer allowing site connectivity and voice applications all in one package vs managing multiple vendors at a higher cost.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) was a fast follow to this concept as we wanted to change the buying behavior for customers with our core business; wireless activation.  Much like the premise of providing businesses connectivity in a fully managed as a service fashion, MaaS is complementary to provide the same types of bundled entitlements for ‘as a service’ for customers to procure and deploy wireless devices for their employees.

MaaS is simply how customers can now obtain devices with an avoidance of capital and deploy them with support and management by Sprint.  WPaaS provides per seat connectivity and collaboration for the company and the customer can choose any type of model for their end point devices.  We, however, feel that MaaS is the best way for them to do that as they get so much more value and support than any other traditional device buying model.

Now for your Mobility as a Service plans, could you please give me a general overview of these solutions and why Sprint believes businesses need these services?

Pricing: We designed MaaS to be predictable in cost for customers and to have the best value in the market.  We didn’t raise our price points, but we didn’t necessarily lower them.  We have already maintained our strong competitive price positioning, and have also added a whole bunch of valuable services and management to make us stand out.

Options/Terms: We think it’s important that customers have the flexibility to get the technology they need, when they need it.  We have established two and one year terms so that customers could choose newer refresh cycles if they wanted to always have the latest devices.

Device Selection: This is a huge differentiator for us with MaaS.  In other non-ownership models, such as leasing, there are limited device choices based on residual models.  We have eliminated that restriction with MaaS and have made the model work with almost our entire business device portfolio.  Therefore, customers are not restricted from deploying all types of devices that they need and they can take advantage of the MaaS value.

Upgrading: One of the core values of MaaS is always being able to get the next new device at the end of the term and not having additional cash outlay.

Data/Share Options: Flexibility is a theme for MaaS and allowing customers to choose a particular type of data access is critical to helping them keep costs down and only deploy as much data as they need.  We also help in providing usage reports so that customers can constantly evaluate their usage and, potentiallyadjust their allotments.

Compass Intelligence believes the value-added services are big drivers for this type of service including reducing complexities and simplifying management of these devices. Could you describe the value-added services that are included with Mobility as a Service?

VIP: This a service that we will be provided for one end-user per  block of 50 lines that customer has on account.  The intent is to go above-and-beyond expectations with these designated individuals to make sure they have everything they need from training, to content transfer, to full replacement of devices  so that  disruption of  productivity is avoided.

White Glove: White glove care is  an assigned care team that will coordinate all aspects of support for a customer.   The basic  is an end-user support center for 365/24/7 technical support.  It also means project management of the customer’s requirement around deployment and coordination of onsite training.

App Loading (Device Customization): Based on the customer’s unique deployment needs, our care team will define a statement of work with the customer to identify which applicationsor services need to be run on the device.  We will pre-configure and load the applications so that  the customer receives   devices  that are activated and ready to be used.

Repair: We really won’t repair devices other than part of the normal extended warranty commitment.  If there are issues with the devices covered under  warranty then most likely we would swap out devices and repair on the back end so that the customer has limited disruptions.  Again, we own the devices and need to make sure that customers have an up and running device as part of the ‘as a service’ promise.  If there’s an issue that was caused by the customer’s use (lost, stolen, or catastrophic damage) then repair costs would apply.

What types of businesses is Sprint targeting with MaaS?

We are targeting businesses of all sizes, but feel that the real sweet spot for us and for our customers is in the employee segment size of 500-5000 employees.  There are not specific verticals that we are targeting with this model.  We feel that it’s a perfect horizontal solution that can meet the needs to all business types.  However, it is intended for businesses that still want to provide devices for their employees.  Therefore, verticals that still have a higher share of corporate liable deployments are more favorable than certain verticals that have a high percentage of companies that have gone to a BYOD model.

Where do you believe MaaS sits from a competitive business pricing and services standpoint?

 We think MaaS sits very favorably.  We anchored MaaS around our existing Fusion business plan price points, but added all of the value services.  We think we’re competitive  but when you consider that the device is also built-in along with upwards of $20-$30 worth of services value we feel we blow the other carriers away in total cost of ownership value.

What are the plans for additional services and partners?

We want to maintain a level of universal appeal.  So one of the things we need to be considerate of is including too much into the value proposition of MaaS that you start to narrow the market or give customers the motivation t to unbundle some of the services because they either already have them or what you’re offering is either more than they need or not sophisticated enough around a particular element.

With that said, we are planning a phased approach to MaaS and have already indicated that we will be adding a cloud storage and anti-virus capability to the overall MaaS model.  These are already built into our current pricing model and will be added at no additional cost to the customer.  We’re also looking at a technology that would protect the devices and offer some variation of water resistance for customers.

We will constantly be working on our portfolio and other things would come in the form of a buy-up attachables.Insurance for customers is one of the concepts that we’re working on and hope to have something out very soon that is designed specifically for businesses.

It is a recent launch, but have you received any early feedback from existing business customers about MaaS?

The feedback has been very strong all along the development stage.  We designed MaaS with the voice of our customers.  Very early  in the process we visited several of our enterprise customers and their feedback helped us prioritize what we eventually required  into MaaS.Additionally, the primary research we did came out resoundingly favorable to the concept and was something that most respondents (over 70-80per cent) said they would like to pursue .Since the launch, we have spent a great amount of time training and presenting  our sales channels. The feedback and early funnel activity has been very encouraging.

It appears competition has ramped up around businesses, and especially SMB businesses.  How do you believe your SMB base of customers and prospects will react to this offering?

We think this is a great offer for the SMB segment.  It’s a low cost, high support model that can really help them with their mobile strategies and go bigger and faster into a 'work anywhere' environment to drive productivity of their workforce.We want SMBs to know that Sprint is the carrier of choice for sound and transparent partnership to help them reach their goals.  We want to be highly consultative and then deliver the actual execution and deployment that enable smaller businesses to act bigger.

How do you believe these services protect your Corporate Liable base of customers or bring some of those that moved off the Corporate Liable accounts back to a 12 or 24 month term?

We believe that MaaS can help companies to decide  whether to stay corporate liable or move to the BYOD model.   The simplicity and cost value can be very enticing to a traditional CL oriented company and become a better means for delivering  the model that they are used to.  They can avoid the unknown and potential complexity and higher costs of moving to BYOD.We’re not against BYOD.  There are very valid reasons for companies to consider it.  However, if the need  is to  really control the devices then we think MaaS makes perfect sense and removes a lot of burden from internal resources.

What do you find the most unique about this offer and how does it differentiate Sprint in the  market?

The most unique aspect is the device lineup availability.  It’s completely unmatched in the non-ownership model for businesses.  Any other “leasing” type models for our competitors will only be on a very limited set of devices (smartphones).The other really big differentiators are around the extended warranty, cloud storage, anti-virus, and the sum of the white glove care components. 

 What is on the horizon for OfficeFuel that you can share today?Could you throw light on any additional services and options that are in plans for the coming quarters?

OfficeFuel will continue to evolve and we’ll bring  additional applications and services that help businesses  be more productive,  specifically in a mobile environment.  We have a planned SMB UCaaS offering coming in the next 30-60 days that will be  integrated with other  softwares such as Google and Microsoft.  We’ll also continue to look at additional SaaS services that make sense to be rendered on mobile devices and  cosolidate those as our channels become more familiar and accustomed to working with customers around all areas of their business.Customization is another area that we continue to explore so that we have the ability to help customers with their mobile application development and integration needs.