Mobile data pools are a cost-efficient option especially for large organizations with many corporate mobile devices. Having a single bill that covers multiple devices is easier to manage and, in theory, less expensive. But before signing up to a data pool plan, there are a few things to take into consideration.

What is a data pool?

A data pool is a very simple idea. It means that families or corporations can have one phone bill and pay for a certain amount of data which is shared between multiple mobile devices. Sharing monthly data between multiple devices means those who use less data don’t get charged for wasted data that isn’t used. And at the other end of the spectrum, those who use more data don’t get bill shocks and overage charges because they can use this excess data from other members of the pool. It’s also usually cheaper to sign up to data pool plans than individual plans.

Key Considerations

While this sounds like a fool-proof way to manage corporate mobile expense, data plans do have their risks. For example, when one person goes over the data pool’s limit, two things could happen. Either everyone becomes subject to overage charges, or productivity decreases because internet access is cut off for every device (depending on what type of plan you have). So what are the key considerations when choosing a data plan?

1. Are your users roaming?

Data roaming is the biggest cause of bill shock events. Although new regulations have been brought in to reduce the amount carriers can charge in roaming fees, if your organization has employees who travel often and globally, then data roaming is still a big issue. It is important to know which employees travel, to where and how often. From here you can make an informed decision about who might be using more data. Read what Gartner recommends for reducing data roaming charges.

2. How much data is being spent on personal use?

Although corporate mobile phones are intended to be a business tool used only for work, this is often not the reality. Most people feel so dependent on their mobile phone that even a corporate mobile phone can end up feeling like a personal one and employees will use it as such. And there is a fine line when it comes to blocking content – policies that are too strict will upset employees and policies that are too lenient will open your business up to risk. The portion of personal use that happens on a corporate device causes an unnecessary increase in overall data consumption that the company is usually expected to pay for. It’s understandable that employees don’t want to carry around two mobile phones but this means they opt for using their work phone for personal use. This happens even on days off, when they are on holiday and even abroad. To make matters worse, employees tend to use their corporate device even more than they would normally use their personal device knowing that someone else is footing the bill. Getting an idea of how much personal usage takes place on each corporate mobile device as well as knowing how many of your employees have personal devices is critical for choosing the right data plans.

3. Which apps or sites are using the most data?

At Wandera, we analyze the data usage patterns of our global enterprise customers. We’ve noticed the percentage of mobile data used on video content has increased from 5.2% to 57.4% between January and May 2016. This steep increase can be attributed mainly to the use of personal apps such as YouTube and Netflix. Streaming video over a cellular connection, particularly when employees are abroad and passing time in hotel rooms and airports, can lead to huge bill shock events and completely knock your data plan out the window.

 Making data pools work

Data pools are easier to manage than individual plans, with the plan itself also being cheaper. So how can you make it work for your business?
As a first step, enterprises should look for a service that provides full visibility of employee mobile data used to identify users that consume more data than others. Gathering enough information on employee mobile data usage takes much longer than needed if done manually.
Next, enterprises should look for a service that allows employees to remain productive while reducing data spend and eliminating bill shock events. A smart corporate mobile device policy is helpful in restricting access to work-related apps and sites only when users are in certain situations such as traveling abroad or using a cellular connection.
Wandera specializes in both of these areas to provide full visibility of mobile data usage and enable administrators to set up individual caps that can be adjusted to suit each user in the pool. So even when you move to a pooled plan, you will still have the ability to cap each individual user, and better yet, you can adjust these caps in real-time, taking data from one user and allocating to another depending on their usage. With more visibility and control, businesses make more intelligent decisions about mobile data plans and policies.
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