Mobile data costs cause CIO headache: report

Majority of IT executives predict 2013 hike in roaming costs

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Mobile data costs cause CIO headache: report The top two sources of frustration of adopting and supporting the variety of devices, far outranked even security concerns.
By  Stephen McBride Published  February 7, 2013

Wi-Fi hotspot provider iPass Inc and mobile security specialist MobileIron today published their 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report, conducted with the input of 477 IT executives worldwide. The principal findings of the research are that the IT function is concerned about rising mobility costs and feeling frustration and loss of control over the ever-growing issue of BYOD (bring your own device). The majority of survey respondents (57%) thought their mobile data-roaming costs would rise in 2013, with 8% saying they will rise more than 25%.

BYOD is creating new challenges for IT. The top two sources of frustration were adopting and supporting the variety of personal devices, far outranking even security concerns. The survey also found that IT is increasingly losing control of mobility budgets as departments assume greater responsibility for mobile initiatives. The number of enterprises in which IT manages the mobility spend has dropped to 48%, down from 53% in 2011. Forty per cent of companies' mobility budgets are now managed by non-IT departments.

"IT is charged with implementing solutions to boost employee productivity, and BYOD does that. But as more personal mobile devices with multiple platforms and operating systems are used for work, IT managers are challenged to safeguard corporate data and keep roaming costs low. And when mobility budgets are managed by departments rather than IT, data roaming costs can be hard to control," said Barbara Nelson, chief technology officer, iPass. "With mobile on track to become the primary computing platform for the enterprise, IT can regain control by setting strong BYOD policies and enforcing them."

When asked about rising data costs, 44% of IT managers named the growing number of devices per mobile worker as a factor; 41% highlighted pricey 3G (and 4G) data plans; and 22% pointed to an increase in the number of mobile workers as major cost culprits. On average, IT departments spend $96 a month on data fees alone for each mobile worker. North American mobile workers rack up the highest fees ($97/mo), exposing the expense of mobile broadband. Since free Wi-Fi is abundant in North America, these fees primarily reflect non-Wi-Fi forms of mobility, such as 3G and 4G.

"BYOD is more than just shifting ownership of the device to the employee," said Ojas Rege, VP Strategy, MobileIron.

"It has a number of implications for which a strategy needs to be defined in advance of implementation. This becomes even more critical as enterprise mobility evolves from securing email on mobile devices to delivering apps and content to employees anywhere at any time. An effective BYOD programme starts with good preparation, but its long-term sustainability will depend on the ongoing quality of the employee's experience."

The survey shows that BYOD continues to gain ground. Fifty-six per cent of respondents, up from 47% in 2011, have changed their corporate guidelines within the past year to be more accommodating of employees' preferences for using personal devices. Eighty-one per cent of respondents state their company now accommodates personal devices in the office. More than half (54%) have formal BYOD policies in place and North American companies are more likely than European companies to have done so. The survey found that while many organisations allow BYOD not all of them have actual policies for it. Of the 72% of enterprises with enterprise mobility strategies in place, only 37% of IT managers thought their own company's mobile strategy was effective, while 35% felt that their company had an insufficient approach.

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