The Do’s & Don’ts of the Enterprise Small Cells Lifecycle
In our work with mobile operators to accelerate small cell systems inside medium to large enterprises, we have learned much over the last five years to create win-win formulas for enterprise IT and our mobile operator customers. It is hard-earned knowledge that only a seasoned executive team could have anticipated and managed by an experienced field team.
So, in the spirit of sharing our knowledge, here are “5 Small Cell System Do’s and Don’ts of Enterprise.”
Establish operator brand preference. This is the number one Do as it creates a sales foundation that is tangible and can be talked about to the enterprise IT customer. Branding and stratifying small cells offerings enables customer self service for product selection and easy to understand positioning for the operator’s sales force.
Small Cell Customer Segmentation:
- Residential: Standalone Femtocell
- SMB: Enterprise Femtocell
- Medium-Large Enterprise: SpiderCloud E-RAN
A Normal Operator-Enterprise Conversation:
Customer: “I have very poor indoor coverage or service experience. Can you help?”
Sales Rep: “Let me show you our available offerings.”
Or, for a Sales Rep with no product offering: “Let me file a report and our engineers will look into it…”
Which response do you think creates brand preference from the enterprise IT director?
Empower the pre-sales force. “There’s an APP for that” (article quote). The EASY-30 smartphone application enables Sales teams to swiftly identify customer requirements for in-building small cell systems and starts the business approval process at the first point of contact, in response to a customer concern with in-building coverage and capacity.
Imagine the surprise and brand preference that an agile and responsive mobile operator can create when a sales rep is empowered to start the review/approval process immediately.
Leverage existing Ethernet infrastructure. There is nothing more empowering than an enterprise team participating in solving the problems for their internal business customers. A cornerstone of EASY-30 deployment is leveraging the installed enterprise infrastructure (private VLAN) and the facility knowledge of the employees. A winning relationship for something as fundamental as making mobility work everywhere enables other services conversations to be openly received in the future.
Supply chain integration. Small cell systems that can scale, have lower price points and less deployment complexities than traditional in-building DAS, and can be deployed in days vs. months. This expands the total addressable market of enterprise customers that can be cost-justified for coverage and capacity investments. With the EASY-30 lifecycle and simplified operational procedures, mobile operators can use their supply chain to scale up and automate the fulfillment of the inbound requests to address and deploy systems for thousands of enterprise customers per year vs. hundreds.
Enable an eco system of implementation partners. We are on the early side of the small cell lifecycle. Any company who can install an enterprise Wi-Fi system should be able to install a scalable small cell system for medium to large enterprise customers. The potential “winners” are the incumbent INDOOR cellular contractors that are adding small cells to the installation portfolio. The operator relationship with enterprise IT is directly correlated to the strength of the implementation partner.
Over-Engineering. When you have a Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing “SON” system like the E-RAN implements, trust it to do the “heavy lifting.” The EASY-30 approach and SON enable the system to configure itself at commissioning time. Adding engineering and planning resources early in the mobile operator learning curve is OK to help RAN engineers build a comfort level, but after trust is built, these additional resources can both slow the process and damage the business case. Unlike DAS, a scalable small cell system with SON does not require a heavy-handed RF engineering approach.
Complicated pricing models. There are two ways mobile operators are currently offering an E-RAN system:
- Amount of devices and cash flow from the account justify the operator to directly fund the coverage and capacity improvement.
- Enterprise IT provides the funding for the coverage and capacity improvement.
In cases where enterprise IT provides funding, keep the charging structure simple and straightforward. The benefit to the mobile operator is the ability to create a repeatable and easy-to-understand invoicing process on the billing platform.
Outside of monthly billing, cost recovery can be a monthly lump sum, or per-device line charge over a term.
A simplified pricing structure increases enterprise IT satisfaction with the mobile operator.
Lose sight of longer-term services opportunities. There are a host of possible managed mobile services opportunities available to mobile operators who look beyond basic coverage and capacity. Exact Ventures, in their market study, showed a path to profitable managed services using a small cell system capable of enabling services. Such services examples were also demonstrated by Vodafone, Intel and IBM at Mobile World Congress 2014.
As the blurring of lines between enterprise and mobile operator technologies increase, there are a number of template services that are well suited for mobile operators to provide, that leverages the point of presence inside the enterprise by establishing trust between the operator and the enterprise with improved coverage and capacity. In-building mobility services are a golden opportunity to strengthen brand preference for mobile operators and the go-to-market partners. See more in this market study.
Underestimate enterprise customers. Enterprise IT people can be your smartest and, yet, your most difficult customers. There are many cost and business pressures in IT that can translate into a win-win for both parties. To enable the move from 80% Capex to 80% Opex in the IT services arena requires a long-term migration in both technology and thinking. Find your smart mobility architects in medium-large enterprises and absorb their vision. In turn, share your vision with them. Goals: create trust in direction and joint collaborative skills. Move from Dating (SIM’s and Devices) to Marriage (deep services and shared IT relationships).
Hold back channels. Mobile operators cannot fulfill the myriad amount of needs coming from the enterprise IT base. Enabling a set of trusted channel partners to build and implement E-RAN for these buyers is very important. A CTO at a mobile operator was pondering with us the concept of “Bring Your Own Network” where the enterprise buys E-RAN and the operator supplies the transmission link to the mobile core. There are many logistics and operational considerations around shape of ownership model, but even this type of conversation illustrates that we are in the midst of major changes in mindset. Create, use, and evolve your channels to meet the unmet needs of enterprise IT and enable service opportunities.
While these five Do’s and Don’ts only scratch the surface, the issues beyond small cell technologies are more important in the longer term. As an ex-mobile strategist in a multinational enterprise, I was driving for the emergence of platforms and tools that made the internal cost model better and satisfied our business customers. I assure you, that there are thousands of enterprise mobility people awaiting your call.
- Art King, SpiderCloud Wireless, Director of Enterprise Services & Technologies