Announced last week, BlackBerry’s acquisition of telecom services provider Movirtu is garnering plaudits from multiple observers. As BlackBerry Enterprise President John Sims explains below, Movirtu’s ‘virtual SIM’ platform uniquely addresses the needs of employees and enterprises in cooperation with mobile operators.
Lai: Why did BlackBerry choose Movirtu?
Sims: We looked at a number of split billing approaches to ensure we would select a solution that meets the requirements of all stakeholders. Based on our market research, we quickly realized that Movirtu was the only viable solution available.
By enabling multiple phone numbers on iOS, Android and BlackBerry smartphones, Movirtu lets employees have separate phone numbers for work and personal use without the inconvenience of swapping SIM cards or carrying two phones. That lets companies and employees accurately and fairly split their billing between personal and work usage.No producing expense reports, no need for companies to pay expensive stipends, and no need to change the billing relationship between the enterprise and the mobile operator. Less hassle and better for everyone. Moreover, we found Movirtu to be the most comprehensive solution out there, supporting split billing for all mobile services, not just data.
Lai: Why are data-only split billing solutions insufficient?
Sims: Numerous enterprises have confirmed to us that they have to reimburse employees’ voice and messaging, as well as their data usage. Moreover, companies in my home state of California that have deployed BYOD are now legally responsible to pay for voice call charges accumulated while employees are on the clock. Clearly, tracking data only isn’t enough.
Some solutions attempt to split voice call bills using VoIP technology. However, VoIP continues to face issues with voice quality and roaming costs, and require users to use separate apps on the handset. That creates such a hassle that many users will just forget or consciously avoid using the apps.
Lai: Why is it important to keep the billing relationship directly between the company and the mobile operator?
Sims: We have seen solutions out there plant themselves between the business and the mobile operator, requiring a change in the billing relationship. Mobile operators told us they don’t like that.
With BlackBerry there are no overhead costs, no expense reports, and no separate billing agreements. The company and the employee maintain their billing relationship through the mobile operator and do not have to receive bills from some third-party provider with whom they have no trusted billing relationship today. BlackBerry will leverage its existing partnerships and infrastructure with hundreds of mobile operators worldwide to make this solution available so that corporate bills continue to be paid through existing contracts with mobile operators.
Lai: If companies are willing to allow BYOD, why are they keen on controlling their corporate numbers?
Sims: Because it’s like allowing employees to put their personal @gmail address onto their business cards. Not only does it look less professional, but it allows employees to own the contacts, data and relationship with partners and customers, which they can take with them to their next job.
As we integrate Movirtu with our market-leading EMM platform, BES, enterprises will be able to manage IT policies associated with each number, including removing the work phone numbers assigned to devices when employees leave the company. That ensures that any business stays inside your walls and doesn’t walk out the door to your competitor.
Lai: What are the benefits of separating work and personal numbers for employees?
Sims: For employees, they don’t have to share their personal cell phone numbers with colleagues or customers, preserving their privacy. Having a separate work number also allows employees to redirect calls to voice mail after hours or when on leave, helping to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Lai: Does the Movirtu solution work when employees are roaming in different countries?
Sims: Yes. Roaming is exactly when employees generate the highest communication costs. It can also be a daily occurrence for salespeople, executives and field workers.
Other split-billing solutions break when employees roam off their home network. When that happens, all of the employee’s charges will be grouped into one bill and the main SIM contract (either employee or enterprise) will be charged. This brings back the need for those unloved expense reports, which split-billing was supposed to replace.
Roaming is especially problematic if split-billing relies on sponsored data. Sponsored data was originally designed to enable companies like Netflix or Spotify to pay the mobile operator for the data traffic consumed by their applications and recover costs from advertising or subscription fees. Besides the fact that only two carriers in the world offer it today, sponsored data-based split billing breaks when employees roam, and even if they switch from 4G to 3G networks, due to a reliance on LTE/IMS technology.
By contrast, Movirtu’s technology remains stable and reliable, regardless of where or when employees are doing business. It works based on network standards supported by all of the 675 mobile operators that BlackBerry has relationships with. It doesn’t rely on sponsored data, nor require the use of a special VoIP app. It works seamlessly, and keeps the billing relationship squarely between the company and mobile operator at all times.
Corporate IT will be able to manage policies associated with each number and be able to apply the controls needed and protect the corporate identity associated with the mobile number, in particular in a BYOD scenario. Movirtu technology offers the simplest, most reliable, and most accurate split billing solution for businesses and it’s now a BlackBerry service.