New research shows mobile data consumption will continue its unrelenting advance over the next 4 years. Here’s what’s driving the trend, with advice for corporate mobile managers about how to cope with the costs.

According to a new study* from Juniper Research, mobile data consumption will smash the 90,000 petabyte mark by 2017. That’s roughly equivalent to 42 quadrillion tweets or 600 trillion Facebook photos, sent and received on an ever-expanding universe of smartphones, tablets and other handsets.
Comment around this, and other recent studies, has primarily focused on telecoms operators and how their networks will need to be developed in order to cope with this data deluge. What hasn’t been discussed in any detail is the impact on corporate mobile costs. Enterprise mobility managers are already reeling from monthly bill shock and, with such rapid data growth, need to address their enterprise mobility challenges now.

Workforce mobile data consumption has been on a hockey stick trajectory for some time, driven up by the increasingly ubiquitous smartphones, tablets and the data-greedy apps that come with them.
Employees are active consumers (and often creators) of digital content. Social media compels them to share that content or download new sources from elsewhere, increasingly in the form of large video files. The most popular devices for delivering a rich video or web browsing experience at the moment are on the iOS and Android platforms. This shift away from BlackBerry – until recently the default handheld for corporate use – by itself accounts for a multiple increase in data usage.
(Source: OECD International Roaming Report)
Add to all that the blurring of personal and professional requirements, the current 4G/LTE build out and shortening release cycles for ever-faster, more powerful mobile devices. All the elements are in place for even bigger data bills — and serious worries over how to control them.
Enterprise mobility managers might be forgiven then for wanting to clamp down hard. Some are turning off employee roaming, limiting the types of devices deployed or even banning certain apps. But these blunt measures could destroy the business benefits that workforce mobility is meant to deliver, and even allow competitors who’ve adopted a more nimble approach to gain an advantage.
Negotiating with telecom operators to craft the best possible data package isn’t enough to ensure a mobility strategy can support the needs of today’s mobile work force. It’s important to implement an independent strategy to manage mobile data centred on Mobile Data Optimization (MDO) allowing businesses to take control of their bills by raising granular mobile visibility of what data types and apps are pushing costs up. MDO also employs data compression technologies to tackle video and images, increasing the longevity of the corporate data pool.
The 90k PB data reality will be upon us before you know it. We’ll be blogging more on MDO and the techniques for taking hold of workforce mobile data usage in subsequent posts. In the meantime, why not have a look at these additional resources.
*Mobile Data Offload & Onload: Wi-Fi, Small Cell & Carrier-grade Strategies 2012-2017. Juniper Research, April 2013.
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