WhatsApp, Kik and iMessage are eliminating traditional text messages.

They’re also driving up corporate data costs. WhatsApp is on a roll. The mobile messaging application, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said is “on a path to connect 1 billion people,” currently has more than 450 million daily users.

Its popularity has already decimated SMS/text revenues for major mobile operators, whilst driving up cellular data consumption. British operator EE says WhatsApp consumes the third highest volume of data of any app on its 4G network.
That should give pause to enterprise mobile managers. With the average WhatsApp user sending more than 1,200 messages, receiving more than 2,200 messages, and uploading 40 photos per month, we can safely add WhatsApp to the roster of cellular data hogs in need of close management.

Companies are already struggling with monthly bill shock from video streaming and sharing of large multimedia files across social media. We know employees actively create, curate and share their favourite digital content via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, Dropbox and others, but until recently, text messaging hadn’t really figured into the mix.
That’s probably because traditional SMS messages are highly visible, trackable and have a tariffed unit cost; whilst messaging via WhatsApp and similar services from iMessage and Kik let you send texts with photos and videos using cellular data connections — bypassing the mobile carrier’s SMS and MMS charges. In February of this year, shortly after it was acquired by Facebook, the company said it would also launch a voice service sometime after Q2.
With the blurred line between personal and professional use of company mobile devices, the current 4G/LTE build out and shortening release cycles for ever-faster, more powerful handsets and tablets; all the pieces are in place for WhatsApp to drive even bigger data bills.
So, how can you control mobile data?
The first reaction is likely to clamp down hard and ban it altogether. But as we’ve suggested in previous posts, such blunt measures are off-putting to employees and risk minimizing the business benefits that workforce mobility is meant to deliver.
By raising granular visibility at the user level of the apps that are pushing up costs, you can cap users at an allocated personal limit, use data compression to tackle video and other fat data and file types, and say yes or no to the wrong types of usage.
Have a look at our recommendation for controlling mobile data. Whether it’s WhatsApp or another data hogging application, cellular data costs are already on the rise.