Breathing Life Back into FMC

S. O'Boyle
S. O'Boyle

Summary Bullets:         

  • Companies are segmenting their highly mobile users and looking at FMC solutions that can re-direct their calls over a VoIP network to reduce mobile costs, including not only roaming costs in the case of frequent travellers, but also in cases of ‘mobile-only’ offices.
  • Service providers that are offering FMC solutions to enterprises include Verizon (Global FMC), BT (Onevoice Anywhere), and Orange (Mobile Access).

The good things about FMC solutions are they can work to reduce mobile costs, leverage companies’ existing infrastructure (e.g., VoIP VPN), offer one number and identity, and work on any mobile carrier networks.  In terms of the sales process, price points are reasonable at EUR 4 to EUR 7 per user, per month, and trials are easy enough to get off the ground; it can take less than two weeks for an administrator to set this up via an online portal.  Customers may cancel during the first three months with no early termination charge.

Verizon has improved its Global FMC offer by making the distribution of the software to BlackBerrys easier; the administrator pushes the app directly to users.  There is also an iPhone client that targets BYOD users available.  Verizon estimates that typically only 20-30% of top mobile spenders make enough international roaming calls to save money on those call types with FMC, but all mobile users can benefit from FMC savings.  Examples include ‘homeworkers’ that do not want to incur mobile and home landline call charges and can use FMC WiFi access and Remote Office, or retail locations deploying FMC with WiFi in stores rather than fixed phones.  Verizon’s solution also has strong appeal in Europe, with availability in nine countries today.

The downsides are ensuring that the FMC client can work on ‘any mobile device,’ as there always seems to be exceptions (e.g., Android devices in Verizon’s case).  Still, perhaps the biggest challenge is to impress the user; if the FMC client requires the mobile user to do anything, they do not like it.  Similarly, if it does not work well (e.g., a two-second delay in making a call or a quality issue), users lose patience and revert back to their old ways, regardless of how much money it can save the company.  The FMC user experience is being improved by service providers (i.e., requiring no user action to make calls is improving usage and deployment).  However, the real incentive for FMC is to become UC (unified communications) and far more integrated with easy-to-use audio/Web/video conferencing, IM apps, and other tools to improve the mobile office experience.

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