The growing demand for mobility solutions has created a gap in the way mid-market and enterprise companies manage their employee-issued technology. With employee bases spread far and wide, it’s a no-brainer that protection, business device repair, and replacement solutions need to expand to accommodate increasingly mobile workforces. But launching a successful program is harder than it sounds. 

Empowering the hybrid workforce: how to combat device challenges in the new normal of work.

In the last four years, companies have been forced to rethink conventional work and customer service models. Market dynamics have shifted in response to COVID-19, increasingly global customers and employees, and the expectations of the new-to-the-workforce Millennials and Gen Z employees. The rapid increase in workforce mobilization has been one of the most significant changes businesses are facing because of these new dynamics. Hybrid work arrangements are now the new normal, with over 70% of U.S. employers offering some version of a hybrid work model.1

To power this new normal, businesses rely heavily on devices that connect their employees and their operations. But a recent Assurant study of more than 500 employees across large U.S. enterprises found that 73% have experienced issues with their employer-issued devices in the last 12 months that resulted in downtime. The most common issues encountered were outdated devices (35%) and accidental damages (29%).

What does the growing business device protection market mean for mobile carriers?

Consumer device protection programs can generate significant revenues for a large carrier. Today, the adoption of business protection programs across small, medium, and large companies generates a small fraction of the revenue created in the consumer market. But, the business market is expected to grow substantially as the increasing focus on mobility solutions highlights the massive gap in device protection options for the corporate market.

The International Data Association (IDC) expects the number of smartphones shipped for business use to reach 55.3M devices by 2027 — a steady CAGR of 1.6%. Corporate-liable (CL) devices are expected to grow at a faster rate of 8.0% CAGR, while individual-liable (IL) device shipments will decline slightly with a CAGR of -0.8%.

“At a time when IT budgets, including investments in new hardware, are increasingly conservative, it’s telling that corporate-liable device shipments are still expected to grow,” says Biju Nair, President of Global Connected Living at Assurant. “The focus on workforce mobility isn’t going anywhere. Currently, there’s a gap in the market when it comes to protection programs designed for the mobile workforce, and that’s where carrier opportunity exists.”

What doesn’t work

As with any new market opportunity, we’ve seen some swings and misses around business device protection programs.

  • Repurposing consumer device protection plans for business programs isn’t price- or service-friendly. Not only does this get expensive on a per-line basis, but it also fails to meet the enhanced service needs of a business. Companies that are managing fleets of 50 to 10,000+ lines are looking for affordable, fast ways to repair or replace devices to decrease employee downtime. More than 66% of employees say they lose between one and three business days a year to downtime, which adds up quickly in large enterprises. Same-day repair and replace options are critical to reducing that downtime.
  • Purchasing replacements as needed wreaks havoc on your budget and eliminates the eco-friendly option of repurposing used devices or device parts. Companies that take this approach buy new equipment each time they run into an issue vs. using certified, pre-owned devices and device parts to keep their employees online in a cost-effective manner.
  • Enterprise device closets come with hidden expenses, including lost equipment value. Some companies hold a backup supply of equipment they turn to when they need to replace an employee device. Seems smart, right? The problem with this approach is that equipment values, especially smartphones, decrease daily. So every day a device sits in a company’s backup queue, the value of that device is decaying and the company is losing return on its investment.
  • Administrative costs add up. The overhead costs associated with administrative requirements frequently go overlooked. (Take it from us. Our supply chain logistics team would be happy to talk your ear off on this topic.) For device protection programs, administration includes things like: device procurement, inventory management, warehousing/security, fraud management, device preparation/activation, forward logistics, content transfer, reverse logistics, data wipe and clear, device disposition, and device accounting. In total, this is a costly and time-consuming approach for most businesses, especially considering that formal carrier protection programs have automated and refined all these processes to be fast and cost-efficient.

The carrier homerun: Custom business protection

The following section provides a simplified overview and should be considered only as a starting point for implementing effective device protection programs for businesses. If you are interested in launching a business protection program or assessing its revenue potential, we have more insights we can share behind the scenes.

  • Customize coverage by department, team, and role. This allows mid-market and enterprise companies to create custom programs that target specific challenges within their organizations. For example, an airline company could assign increased protection its flight staff while choosing more cost-efficient coverage for on-the-ground employees who have reduced risk of damaging their devices.
  • Enhance fulfillment options to reduce employee downtime for your business customers. When it comes to business device issues, same-day repairs or replacements just scratch the surface of employer expectations. Companies want extremely fast, convenient resolution options. Services like come-to-you repair and remote claims servicing will be increasingly important as businesses look to keep downtime to a minimum in the new mobility era.
  • Provide a simple, user-friendly administration. Assurant has solved for this through an online portal that allows companies to track their entire program from one location. Through this portal, it’s easy for a program administrator to determine or change levels of coverage, track claims submitted along with status and resolution, evaluate overall employee downtime, and more. The bottom line is that business device protection programs are all about keeping employees productive — and that means program administration needs to be as simple as possible.

Reach out to us to get Assurant’s in-depth analysis of the business device protection market opportunity.

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