Enterprise Mobility Spending Growing Exponentially

Enterprises are spending an average of $120 a month per mobile employee and few companies conduct mobile connectivity cost audits, according to an iPass survey.

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Corporate spending on enterprise mobility is growing exponentially with no end in sight, according to mobile services provider iPass. What's more, because many of the costs are hidden in departmental budgets and expense reports, most businesses can only estimate what they spend on mobile connectivity, iPass claims in a new white paper, "What You Need to Know About the Costs of Mobility" (PDF).

Mobility budgets are departmental for 30% of enterprises, and mobile connectivity cost audits are done rarely, if ever, said iPass, based in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Some 42% of respondents in a recent iPass survey of enterprises said they believed mobile connectivity costs "would likely outpace inflation with an increase of at least 5% over the coming year," and 30% believed mobility costs would increase by more than 10%, said iPass. As the mobile workforce continues to grow, so do costs and most companies are not prepared to manage the impact, the company said. The iPass survey also found enterprises are spending an average of $120 a month per mobile employee.

Ownership of multiple devices, an increasing number of apps for smartphones and devices that are eating up bandwidth and employees using devices with different types of connectivity, are dynamics that are only expected to grow as the mobile workforce increases, iPass said. If mobility costs are to be reigned in, enterprises need greater visibility into what the specific charges are, the ability to contain the costs by implementing policies, including automated enforcement, and centralizing control of mobile users.

More than five carrier relationships are supported by 25% of survey respondents, and their offerings are "largely warmed-over consumer plans with a volume discount,'' the iPass white paper claimed.

Enterprises need to establish their own comprehensive mobility service, which "can change the economics of mobility by enabling carrier independence, containing high connectivity costs, lowering end user support costs and reducing the burden of mobility administration,'' iPass said. This type of control will drive down expenses and reinforce security, the company said. Services should include policy-based corporate web access for all remote users on any device, the ability for companies to do thorough reporting and analytics on their mobile usage across all networks and devices; an IT enforcement policy; and global network coverage.

The implementation of a mobility service plan should reap immediate financial impact, iPass said. Opportunities for cost reductions can be found by avoiding international roaming charges, reallocating 3G cards that are underutilized and managing usage-based carrier pricing by gaining visibility into actual consumption and cost patterns. Armed with detailed data on per-user charges for 3G service, iPass said, companies "are ideally positioned to extract favorable terms from their carriers at contract time."

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