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Data Costs, Loss of Control Top IT Concerns for Mobile Devices

With mobile now the center of computing, what are the biggest concerns enterprises have for mobile? A new report points to rising mobile data costs and “frustration and loss of control” because of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) trend.

The report, the 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report from Wi-Fi network and services firm iPass and mobile device management vendor MobileIron, said that 57 percent of respondents thought mobile data costs will rise this year, with 8 percent estimating the cost will exceed 25 percent.

More Than Security

As businesses increasingly support mobile workers, and as those workers increasingly use their own mobile devices, companies are peeling back the layers of challenges from the BYOD wave.

And the wave is continuing to build. The study said that 56 percent of those surveyed have altered their corporate guidelines in the last year to accommodate employee preferences for their own devices, an increase of 9 percent form 2011. Currently, 81 percent of respondents make arrangements for personal devices being used for work, but only 54 percent have formal BYOD policies.

Usually, the biggest issue cited for enterprises in having to accommodate a wide range of personal devices used for work is security. But this report said that two issues outrank security — onboarding devices to the enterprise, and providing support for such a wide variety.

Another issue is more in the political and budgetary realm, as IT departments find that mobile budgets are increasingly controlled by individual departments, which are undertaking such mobile initiatives as social media marketing or mobile-based CRM. In fact, the study said that companies where IT controls the mobile budget dropped to 48 percent of respondents, a decrease from 2011’s 53 percent. In 40 percent of companies’ surveyed, mobility budgets are controlled by departments other than IT.

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From the 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report

Windows Phone Vs. BlackBerry

This complicates IT’s situation on several fronts. Barbara Nelson, iPass’ chief technology officer, said in a statement that, as mobility budgets are managed by non-IT departments, “data roaming costs can be hard to control.” She noted that IT departments can regain control by establishing strong BYOD policies and then enforcing them through such solutions as the Wi-Fi network offered by her company, and with a mobile device management platform such as MobileIron's.

What are the reasons behind the rising data costs? The report pointed out that nearly half — 44 percent — of IT managers said that the number of devices for each mobile worker is increasing. Forty-one percent cited the high costs of 3G and 4G plans, and 22 percent noted the increase in the number of workers going mobile.

The average cost for data fees for each mobile worker is US$ 96 monthly, with workers in North America having the highest fees — US$ 97. These costs are related primarily to 3G and 4G, and do not include Wi-Fi, which can often be found for free on the road.

Currently, there’s a battle between Windows Phone and the new BlackBerry 10 to become the third major mobile platform, after iOS and Android. But the survey found that IT departments are somewhat more inclined to support Windows Phone 8, with 45 percent saying they intend to do so, compared to only 34 percent prepared to support BlackBerry 10.

The report found BlackBerry is still entrenched in enterprises, but last year Apple’s iPhone passed BlackBerry in popularity as measured by IT support. Tablet usage is increasing in non-executive departments, led by legal, HR/administration and finance/accounting.

The report, conducted in December and January, was based on a survey of 477 responses from IT professionals.

 
 
 
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