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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

This syndicated post originally appeared at No Jitter - Recent posts by Zeus Kerravala.

Introduced at Enterprise Connect 2015 in Orlando,
this solution provides everything needed to run a business,
from connectivity and collaboration apps to user training.

March is certainly a great time of year. It’s my youngest son’s birthday, the snow is melting in the Boston area, everyone is busy thinking about his or her March Madness brackets… and it’s time for Enterprise Connect! One of the reasons I like Enterprise Connect, taking place this week in Orlando, is that many companies use the show as a platform to launch new products, or even new markets.

The 2015 edition of the conference is no different. Today at the show, Sprint announced an offering that has the potential to create a new market. Sprint’s Workplace as a Service (WPaaS), a Best in Enterprise Connect finalist, is full, turnkey solution that provides all of the technology required to run a business or branch office on a per-user, per-month basis.

To run a business or even a branch location, an organization needs to cobble together wire line and wireless services as well as the applications, devices, and technology that workers use. Once deployed, the IT department must make sure things continue to run smoothly. If this happens, no one says a thing, as that’s the expectation. If not, and the business gets disrupted as a result, the CIO comes under fire.

Over the years, services providers have rolled out a veritable cornucopia of managed and cloud services including network, security, and other technologies that can ease the burden of deployment and ongoing management. However, as appealing as managed services are, buying a number of discrete managed services can cause different complexity problems as IT tries to finesse the experience across multiple carriers, with different billing, user support, and implementation challenges. Sprint addresses the issue with WPaaS, putting a wrapper around everything a CIO needs to run a business. Also, Sprint takes care of all the pre-implementation planning and design to ensure that customers are only buying what they need.

WPaaS includes the following elements:

  • WAN connectivity
  • Enterprise-grade managed Wi-Fi
  • Enterprise-grade voice
  • Local and long-distance voice
  • SIP trunks
  • Audio and video conferencing
  • Online collaboration
  • Instant messaging and presence
  • Mobile device management across all carriers, plus BYOD support for laptops, tablets, and smartphones
  • Sprint wireless plans for smartphones and tablets (optional)

In addition, Sprint supports the technology with these service elements:

  • 24×7 management
  • Proactive capacity management
  • Multicarrier support
  • Per-site implementation
  • End-to-end SLAs

However, to me the biggest game changer is the user training and support that comes with WPaaS.

When I was in IT, we determined what devices and applications workers used and limited the choice to typically one or two options. The tight control we had on the environment ensured we knew everything about every bit of technology in business. Today, the IT model has been flipped upside down, and there’s no standard when it comes to devices. In the BYOD model, users are bringing in their MacBooks, Windows machines, Chromebooks, iPhones, Android phones, and any other type of device imaginable. Couple that with an explosion of applications, toss in wireless complexity, and it’s easy to understand why supporting end users is getting more and more challenging.

WPaaS offloads the user support to a single resource. This can be a real boon to IT as now it can allocate more resources to strategic initiatives instead of maintaining the status quo. A 2014 ZK Research study showed that more than 80% of an IT budget goes toward “keeping the lights on.” The only way to reduce this staggeringly high percentage is to find a way to lower the cost of support. WPaaS can go a long way in doing this.

While I’m sure Sprint would love to capture all of the devices within a business, the company has designed the WPaaS to allow users to keep the wireless services they already have, whether provided by Sprint or a competitor. Sprint has tiered the pricing of WPaaS accordingly. For users who don’t have Sprint devices, WPaaS pricing starts at $200 per user monthly. That price bumps up to $205 per user monthly for Sprint tablet users, and $250 per user monthly for users who have both mobile phones and tablets from Sprint.

WPaaS is easily the most comprehensive converged service that I have seen to date. Every other provider of as-a-service offerings focus on technologies, while Sprint focuses on delivering a turnkey work location. As workers become more distributed and as technology continues to evolve, the complexity bar will keep going up. WPaaS enables organizations to aggressively use the best technology without putting their businesses at risk.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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