Cisco Jasper extends its IoT device management into business smartphones

Cisco’s Jasper has turned its IoT management expertise towards easing another major enterprise headache – keeping control of business mobile devices and bills, especially in a BYOD (bring your own device) environment.

The company has launched an automated mobility management platform to bring the streamlined, scalable connectivity processes, which are essential for IoT gadgets, to the world of enterprise smartphones.

Cisco Jasper has developed the Control Center for Mobile Enterprise (CCEM) for customers looking to ensure that thousands of smartphones and WiFi dongles are billed and tracked, using similar methods to those which organize SIM-based IoT connections. This is not a carbon copy of the Control Center for IoT, but does retain many of its elements. Built from the ground up, the CCEM can be white-labeled – as its first customer, Canadian telco Telus, is doing. It will be pitching its Telus IQ Smart Mobility platform to business customers looking to manage mobile devices at scale.

Targeting IT teams that have to deal with frustrating MNO user interfaces, Jasper’s offering bucks the narrative of moving into the IoT via an established enterprise platform. It is traveling in the opposite direction, encouraging businesses to start with an IoT solution, and then extend it to improve other areas of operations. While the IoT deployment or pilot might be new and sexy, using the same process or platform to solve the boring (but important) problem of managing company mobile devices can greatly improve the return on investment, and management/IT buy-in.

Jasper’s Pallavi Vanacharla, head of product marketing for CCEM, explained that the current MNO interfaces are essentially adapted consumer portals, – the kind used to manage a personal account. These do not scale to large businesses and enterprises, because only one account can be managed in each portal session.

While third party management systems are available, from the likes of Tangoe, Solera, VMware Airwatch and Accenture, Jasper is banking on its experience with managing hordes of IoT devices to win out over the competition.

Vanacharla added that Jasper had embarked on this journey before Cisco acquired it, in response to customer demand. But CCEM does align with Cisco’s portfolio rather well, promising its enterprise customers potential efficiency savings, as well as the savings from having an automated way to enforce roaming packages or throttling when needed. Jasper claims that this real time billing cycle visibility is a first.

As for the scale of the market, Vanacharla said that there will be around a billion business mobile device connections by 2020, representing around $1tn of annual spend. The collective spend on IoT deployments will take a long time to hit that level, and even longer to become a significant proportion of the average enterprise’s IT budget.

Even a small percentage reduction in the TCO of a trillion-dollar expense could have significant impacts on operational margins. As such, Cisco is leaping into a market that has been stuck on a reactive footing for about a decade, with the promise of providing a proactive system that would eliminate the shock-bills that plague a company following an overseas trip and a forgetful exec.

Launch customer Telus says it is already seeing strong customer feedback. One of its clients for its CCEM-based service is QuadReal Property Group, which said in a statement: “Telus IQ has improved our operational efficiency. With the capabilities enabled by CCEM, we can self-activate or suspend lines online and instantly detect heavy data users during the billing cycle. Telus IQ provides the management control we need in a concise viewing platform, and we expect it to become our mobility management.”