With the proliferation of high-speed data connections and the ever-increasing reliance on devices, it’s no surprise that data usage is increasing. While the new age of mobility can be an incredible productivity driver – allowing employees to work effectively anytime, anywhere – the costs associated with them are rising.
Poorly managed devices leave companies at risk of spiraling recurring costs and an increase in the regularity of ‘one-off’ bill shock events. But how can you keep data costs down while keeping productivity up? There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, different companies will need to enforce different policies to suit their specific needs. This is where visibility becomes crucial for determining which are the right policies to put in place to prevent excessive usage, whilst allowing people to do their jobs.
So what are the challenges, questions, and considerations involved in the implementation of a data management solution across a mobile fleet?
Total cost of mobility ownership
The total cost of ownership seems like an easy sum. Cost of the hardware + pre-arranged monthly fee. In reality, the costs would include carrier costs, security spend, IT resources and EMM management if used. These costs can add up to 45%-65% of the entire cost. By implementing successful data cost management policies it is possible to reduce the recurring cost of carrier plans by 10%, roaming costs by up to 50% as well as eliminating bill shock altogether.
Why not just buy more data?
Often, instead of trying to control mobile costs, the easier route appears to be to go back to the carrier and ask for more data. Data pools are commonplace within businesses but they can be a curse as well as a gift. Read our blog; Three things to consider before signing up to a data pool plan to find out more. The bottom line is, this is a never-ending cycle.
Data usage is showing no sign of slowing down, it is, in fact, speeding up at a huge rate with the take-off of video streaming sites such as Netflix. Even with higher data limits, there is no way to ensure bill shock does not still occur. Therefore, getting more data from the carrier is not going to be a long-term solution for controlling mobile costs.
With employees using corporate-owned mobile devices for personal use, it is vital to know how much and where that data is used to be able to effectively cap users. When Eurostar analyzed its own data usage, they found that there were apps using large amounts of data in the background, and staff watching and streaming video content were major causes of their excessively large bills. Not only this, the other cause of large bills were down to bad user habits, like people sending large files over email. This information prompted the firm to take a fresh look at its file sharing policies and better educate users accordingly.
Capping data is the easiest way to keep costs down. Personal devices often have a cap in place to stop large bills. With corporate devices, this isn’t so easy. Companies do not want to limit data as it is imperative employees have the tools to be able to effectively do their jobs, and employees are more relaxed as they’re not the ones footing the bill. For some users, just being aware of their usage is enough to adjust their behavior. Alerts are effective at reducing data consumption through simply giving employees reminders over what data they’ve used, and how this translates to cost.
However, this doesn’t always work. With greater awareness, some users still regularly exceed their allocations. This is where being able to ‘whitelist’ comes into play. By determining which sites and apps are fundamental for the business, it is simple to be able to keep these going while turning everything else off, significantly reducing data usage.
Optimising data usage
Enterprise IT has been controlling access to content on corporate computers, provided to employees, for decades. Extending this capability to corporate mobile devices is a natural progression, with the added benefit of helping to keep mobile data costs down.
Preventing users from accessing unnecessary or undesirable material also prevents unnecessary data usage, which in turn, saves money, particularly if this usage is when roaming abroad. Content filtering can also control access to expensive resources such as streaming media, downloading large files and receiving unwanted spam.
Things to consider
Who uses the device, where the device is, when the device is being used, what is the device being used for, how much the data costs – each is a factor that must be considered when determining the appropriate controls to put in place. Therefore, any solution must be able to determine and support such contexts. An administrator must have a view into the data for each perspective in order to make informed choices when determining policy and understanding the net effect.
The employee experience
The user experience is an important part of any mobile solution. End users, in this case, employees, have very high expectations around their device which they are unwilling to compromise on (eg. performance, battery life). The device must also continue to perform so that it can still meet the business use case for which it was originally purchased.
Surprisingly, 99% of organizations have no view into how mobile data is being used on work-assigned phones. Instead, they wait until the end of the month to get a bill from the operator or work on compromise solutions to keep track of costs. Mobile data is the black hole of the modern IT team – but it doesn’t have to be. Using a mobile-first solution such as Wandera can effectively give you the data visibility, controls, and policy needed to be able to control rising mobile data costs.