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Enterprises use IoT for mobility management

Companies say they need a new way to manage smartphones

Companies that want to capitalize on the IoT know that connecting their equipment isn’t enough – they also need software to manage connected devices and analyze the data they generate. Employee smartphones and tablets are obviously connected, but that doesn’t mean companies can always monitor the way they are used, or provision them in an automated way. An employee who uses too much data or loses a phone can cost a company hundreds of dollars, but often by the time companies find out about these problems the damage is done.

QuadReal Property, which owns 40 million square feet of commercial real estate and 12,000 residential rental suites in Canada, is solving this problem with a mobility management solution originally designed for the internet of things. The platform was developed by Jasper Technologies, which Cisco purchased last year for $1.4 billion.

“With the capabilities enabled by Cisco Jasper Control Center for Mobile Enterprise, we can self-activate or suspend lines online and instantly detect heavy data users during the billing cycle,” said Carole St. Arnaud, procurement administrator at QuadReal Property Group. QuadReal accesses the Jasper service through its mobile service provider, Telus, which has integrated the Jasper platform into its Telus IQ service.

Jasper works with wireless carriers to automate management of IoT devices that are connected to cellular networks. The company had 3,500 enterprise customers and 17 million connected devices when it was acquired by Cisco in March 2016. One year later it has 9,000 customers and 40 million connected devices, and Jasper says it is still adding more than a million new devices each month. Going forward, many of those devices will be smartphones.

“[Enterprises] want to get the same set of automated connectivity management capabilities across the board for all cellular connected devices,” said Pallavi Vanacharla, Cisco Jasper’s head of product marketing for enterprise mobility and IoT cloud services. “A lot of our enterprise customers have been asking us to provide the same capabilities we provide for automating connectivity management for our IoT devices to their employee business phones as well.”

Although the wireless service providers are still the primary path to market for Cisco Jasper, the company engages with the enterprise customers who are the end users of its service. Vanacharla said different kinds of companies have different types of challenges with mobility. Facebook, for example, has issued mobile phones to roughly 10,000 employees, many of whom are very heavy data users. Deloitte employs thousands of consultants who need to add and drop travel plans from their phones when they travel on business. Sears employs technicians who move in and out of jobs and need to transfer their phones to new workers.

“Most of the enterprises I talked to are spending millions in managing their mobile workforce,” said Vanacharla. “That’s not really sustainable given the shrinking IT budgets in the market. So this is what we’re addressing. … The platform completely changes the way enterprises can manage their mobility.”

The Cisco Jasper platform has three unique capabilities, Vanacharla said. First, enterprises can manage the entire mobile workforce, or a discrete number of lines, from a central dashboard. Second, they have real-time visibility into usage and charges. Finally, enterprises can automate controls. For example, they can create and enforce a roaming policy that automatically upgrades employees who are about to hit their travel plan’s data limit, and they can automatically detect and suspend any SIM card that is removed from a device.

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