As employees increasingly use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in the workplace, businesses must make sure they are utilizing the right tools and infrastructure settings to best accommodate employee demands and increase efficiency.
However, CIOs are having difficulties implementing the infrastructure and services to accommodate this influx. According to a new survey conducted by MobileIron and iPass, 57 percent of IT professionals across the globe polled said that the bring your own device (BYOD) trend would mean that their mobile data costs will increase over the next 12 months. In addition, of the 477 people surveyed, 8 percent indicated that their associated costs will likely go up by 25 percent or more in 2013.
The survey showed that IT departments blamed a number of reasons for the increase. More than 40 percent of those polled said that as 3G and 4G plans become less cost effective, the costs are increasingly borne by the business. The average North American company now pays approximately $97 a month on data fees per user. Exacerbating these costs are a rise in the number of smartphones and tablets now on company networks. Forty-four percent of respondents noted that the average employee now has more internet-enabled endpoints than before, and 22 percent of those surveyed indicated that more workers need to use data plans since they are away from the central office more frequently now.
“IT is charged with implementing solutions to boost employee productivity, and BYOD does that,” Barbara Nelson, chief technology officer at iPass, said in a statement. “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.”
How companies can best manage mobile devices
Considering how popular smartphones and tablets have become in recent years, businesses would be wise to embrace mobility instead of taking a more hard line approach. More and more organizations are coming to terms with this new enterprise reality, as the survey found that the number of companies with policies in place to accept BYOD went from 47 percent in 2011 to 56 percent today. Additionally, 81 percent of those polled indicated that their company allows smartphones and tablets to be used in the office, with adoption rates being higher in North America than in Europe.
The key to making sure mobile devices are accepted and leveraged in the enterprise, is for businesses to take the necessary infrastructure and policy steps, according to MobileIron’s Ojas Rege. For example, companies can ensure their in-office Wi-Fi is strong enough to adequately accommodate a large number of devices. Organizations can also turn to a managed services provider to implement tools like software as a service (SaaS) and unified communications as a service (UCaaS) that allow workers to be productive even outside of traditional office settings.
“BYOD is more than just shifting ownership of the device to the employee,” Rege said. “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 program starts with good preparation, but its long-term sustainability will depend on the ongoing quality of the employee’s experience.”