Mobile management portal gets simpler

Movero Technology's tool to help enterprises manage employees' mobile devices and service plans has been updated with AJAX to work more like a Web app

A company whose mission is easing the corporate headaches of buying and managing mobile devices has rebuilt its software platform for greater pain relief.

Movero Technology was formed in 2003 to smooth out the complications of giving enterprise employees mobile devices and service plans, plus updating and keeping track of them. It handles those problems for its customers and runs a full-time support call center. The Austin, Texas, company can set up a special Web site for each company where employees shop for the specific phones and plans they are allowed to order, said President and CEO Bruce Friedman. An updated version of the software platform for those portals, announced Monday, is based on AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and Extensible Markup Language) and now works more like a Web-based application, he said.

For example, a site for setting up service looks much like a shopping page on a mobile operator's Web site. Employees move through screens for ordering devices, services, and accessories to a checkout page. Movero hosts similar sites for deactivating phones, swapping one device for another, transferring liability for a device from the employee to the company, and other functions.

Enterprises are trying to centralize control of their employees' mobile devices and software as more work gets done outside the office and after hours. What was once a personal purchase, sometimes subsidized through an expense report, has become a corporate tool. And because setting up a contract or buying a phone involves a mobile operator, provisioning a handset is more complicated than setting up a new PC for an employee.

Using information about an enterprise, such as its corporate mobile plans and discounts, preferred device configurations, and purchasing procedures, Movero creates a Web portal that may be reached either through Movero's site or on the enterprise intranet. Previously, Movero provided disparate online tools for carrying out the various account actions. Now the pages for all those functions have the same look and feel and can be reached through the same portal.

For IT managers, Movero makes the mobile provisioning process a matter of simply approving or disapproving each order, Friedman said. Enterprises also get a single point of contact for billing issues and support, he said.

More enterprises are taking control of their employees' phones, which by itself makes life less complicated, but frequently they need help, according to Ovum analyst Jan Dawson.

"Most enterprises just don't have the skill sets developed yet to manage mobile devices in the way that they need to be today," Dawson said. Some think they don't need to worry about issues such as security with the devices because they're not PCs, while others treat them just like PCs, which is also a mistake, he said. For one thing, PC security issues are more about viruses while loss and theft are the bigger issues for mobile devices. Over time, some enterprises may choose to hire and train in-house staff for the job while others will turn to managed service providers such as Movero, Dawson believes.

Movero's service generally costs between $4 and $10 per month, per device, according to CEO Friedman.

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