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Talk is cheap but mobile data isn’t free!

By Colm 10th October 2016

The increase of mobile data costs

We live in a world of ever improving technology. Every day it becomes easier for people to stay connected with the content and people they love. Some of these technology changes are highly visible: the high profile launch of the latest smartphone or tablet for example. Others take place in the background and only feel dramatic to those closely involved. The rollout of 4G/LTE networks is such a change. Though LTE connectivity doesn’t use more data than 3G on its own, the increased bandwidth makes it possible for users to stream and download far faster than they ever could on 3G. Naturally enough, this leads to a marked increase in the amount of data most users are consuming.

When 3G was launched it was common for mobile service providers to furnish users with “unlimited” data plans—basically, they could stream or download as much content as they desired to their mobile devices without incurring penalties. But the amount of data use that was possible in a given time period on a 3G network pales in comparison to the huge amounts that can be pulled down on the vastly-improved LTE networks of today.

Providers, struggling with falling revenues from voice and text, see the explosion in mobile data consumption as their route to maintaining revenues. To do this they have significantly reduced, if not eradicated, purely “unlimited” data plans. And where they are available, they are often prohibitively expensive. Data isn’t free – most mobile users today have to operate within monthly limits for domestic usage and daily limits while roaming. For users who are on shared business plans, this typically comes in the form of a pooled allowance shared across the company.

We’ve Run the Numbers

How is this playing out in organizations who pay for their employee’s mobile services? We at Corrata have a unique perspective into trends in enterprise mobile data usage. On a typical working day, even in a mobile capacity, an employee doesn’t require much data: we’re talking low-bandwidth applications, like email and data entry, or workflow-related tools. Even apps like Lync or Dropbox don’t consume data like music, video and social networking apps.

What’s surprising then is the massive growth in mobile data consumption by enterprises. Enterprise mobile data volumes—specifically over cellular connectivity— are growing at rates anywhere between 70% and 140% annually. This isn’t due to increased usage by a small number of data hogs, but to a marked increase in the use of high-bandwidth consumer apps and services across the employee base. Essentially, employees are bringing their consumer usage habits to the office. In other words, it’s certainly not “all work, no play” when it comes to mobile work devices.

A Rise in Risk and Cost; a challenge to Productivity

The rise in employee mobile data consumption driven by the merging of work and personal usage patterns has implications for organizations in three areas: cost, productivity, and risk.

  • COST:  As data use increases, businesses must buy large data allowances.  These can be designed in multiple ways—an allowance that’s exclusive to an individual device (an exact mirror of the typical single consumer plan); a per-device allowance where any under-utilization can be used by others in the enterprise (similar to a family plan); or an enterprise-wide data pool to be shared by all employees on the plan. Regardless of the plan, none of this data is free. And the most expensive data use is when you roam. In some locations, the cost of a gigabyte of data can run into $000’s. So even a relatively small amount of out of bundle usage by roamers can inflate your mobile costs dramatically. Research has found bill shock events make up 14% of the total cost of ownership of employee mobile devices in large enterprises.

 

  • RISK:As organizations become more reliant on mobile devices, the cyber security, legal and reputational risks to their operations continue to rise. In 2015, over 500 new security threats to iOS or Android devices were identified by security researchers—an increase of over 350% on the previous year. With over 2 million apps available from both the Apple App Store and Google Play, the risk of attack has increased greatly. In addition, there is the risk of phishing attacks through email, browsers, and messaging apps. Together, these factors make a strong case for the need to prevent employee devices from connecting to inappropriate or malicious domains.

 

  • PRODUCTIVITY:Constantly checking your phone can obviously lead to unnecessary distractions. Between Facebook memes and talking dogs, it’s easy to see how an employee’s time can be squandered away. In the same way that some companies have seen the benefit of restricting access to content on PCs and laptops, a similar approach may be necessary on enterprise smartphones and tablets.


Enterprise Mobility Control

Corrata’s Enterprise Mobile Threat Defense and Data Usage Control solution is designed to help organizations address the challenge of rapidly expanding mobile data use. Our solution provides enterprises with real-time visibility and control of the data traffic to and from your employees’ devices.

Visibility is possible on two levels: real-time visibility of data traffic volume and visibility of the apps and websites that generate this traffic. This visibility delivers a range of benefits:

  • Personalized and timely advice to help employees minimize unnecessary usage.
  • Alerts on excessive usage.
  • Transparency around mobile data usage.

From a control perspective our solution allows you to implement a set of rules to govern the use of a company-paid-for devices at the employee level. Specific examples include:

  • Limits on domestic and roaming data consumption.
  • The ability to whitelist critical business applications to ensure that access will never be restricted, even after limits are hit.
  • Restricted access to high-bandwidth and/or non-business-related applications.
  • Blocked access to unsafe and inappropriate categories of content such as malicious or unsecured sites.


Putting the Enterprise in Control

Mobile devices are at the center of people’s lives. Enterprises who fail to pay close attention to how their employees are using their company-provided devices are missing opportunities to decrease costs, reduce workplace distraction and avoid unnecessary risks. In the past, suitable solutions simply weren’t available, so this was virtually unavoidable. Now, as the underlying platforms are maturing, a robust and easy-to-deploy solution like Corrata’s have emerged. Perhaps it’s time for you to take a closer look.


Download the Enterprise Mobility Control white paper.