International business travel is important to many organizations but high data roaming charges from the international use of smartphones and tablets have become a pain point.

Gartner’s report titled Use a Combination of EMM Policy and Network Tools to Cut Costs of International Data Roaming, points out two key challenges:

  • Despite efforts to curb roaming costs for voice and data, organizations regularly encounter nearly $1,000 in roaming charges on a per-user, per-year basis due to typical data usage while abroad.
  • The enterprise mobility management suites being adopted by IT organizations are focused on device enablement and control of data usage. However, the limited telecom expense management features in many EMM suites leave these organizations exposed to unpredictable roaming charges.

The level of control an organization can exert over an employee’s device, versus over one the organization owns, will differ. Mapping management to ownership will match a support model based on the model of managed diversity.Chris Silva, Research Director and Rob Smith, Research Director at Gartner
In Use a Combination of EMM Policy and Network Tools to Cut Costs of International Data Roaming.

Enterprise mobile strategists:

  • Segment the mobile user population across three management models based on device ownership and support.
  • Apply granular EMM policies on company-owned, fully managed devices, and extend partial controls to supported and unsupported employee-owned devices.
  • Use on-device data optimization solutions to control data consumption and network usage as an active control, while evaluating alternative carrier alternatives for lower-cost data access.
  • Implement varying combinations of proactive and active controls for each applicable mobile user segment, in order to control the use and cost of mobile data usage.

What stands out to us from the report is that EMM policies used in combination with data optimization tools is the recommended approach to reduce roaming costs for corporate owned devices. This is encouraging to hear because we believe Wandera is uniquely positioned with its powerful ecosystem of partnerships. This includes sophisticated integrations with leading EMM technologies like MobileIron and Airwatch.
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Further thoughts on data roaming
Gartner’s advice is sensible and should be taken into account for any firm preparing to address its data roaming policy.
There are a number of approaches companies can take. One success strategy is where administrators set up policies that apply in different regions. Data in South America can be prohibitively expensive for UK businesses, whereas EU-based roaming charges are typically much more manageable. Shrewd mobility teams are configuring policy settings to restrict only the most data-hungry services in the EU, such as streaming. They then use far more aggressive filters when travelling further afield, limiting social media and new sites.
Adding different employees to different policies based on historical usage is another method to cut roaming costs. Being sure to have controls at the cloud proxy level means that usage is managed across both sites and apps, rather than only at the device level offered by EMMs.
It’s likely we’ll see more developments in the roaming space as new international legislation comes in. There remains a pressing need for organizations to have a robust, well-managed roaming policy in place to avoid what can amount to expensive penalties for inaction.
Gartner, Use a Combination of EMM Policy and Network Tools to Cut Costs of International Data Roaming, Chris Silva and Rob Smith, Refreshed: 24 August 2016, Published: 31 March 2014

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