Employees give bosses bill shock


Employers are getting stung by huge staff mobile phone bills

A lack of cost control policies on 'bring your own device' plans for companies means employers are getting stung by huge staff mobile phone bills, according to a new study.

More employees than ever before are using their own smartphones for work, yet they rank connectivity cost as the least important factor when choosing a mobile network, creating the potential for  bill shock by enterprises that do not have cost control policies as part of their BYOD plan, said a report from iPass.

Supporting surging growth in the BYOD trend, the report shows that the proportion of workers' smartphones provisioned by employers has declined from 58% to 33%, while self-provisioning has risen to 46%, up from 42% last year. The report findings also indicate that the smartphone is at the centre of the mobile workers' universe, ranking only behind wallets and keys in terms of the most important items in their lives, and their network of choice is Wi-Fi.

Ofcom has mapped the distribution of Wi-Fi hotspots, which allow people to access fixed line internet on mobile devices. The regulator stated today that there are now 16,000 Wi-Fi access points in places like cafés, transport hubs and other public spaces.

However, contrary to the iPass report, Ofcom claimed that consumers seem to prefer using their mobile network for internet access when out and about, rather than public Wi-Fi; around 25 times as much data is downloaded over mobile networks as over these Wi-Fi hotspots, Ofcom said.

While the iPass report said that Wi-Fi was the most preferred connectivity option for those questioned, it added that half of mobile workers complained that finding simple access to Wi-Fi networks outside the office is a hindrance to their productivity, whereas in 2011, only 33% of mobile workers described this as a barrier to successful mobile working, indicating that there is a growing reliance on Wi-Fi connectivity among the workforce.

Evan Kaplan, chief executive officer at iPass, commented: 'With more workers turning to their smartphones for work, data usage is growing rapidly across multiple devices. As this BYOD trend continues to explode, not just in the US but around the world, enterprises are seeing the effects both in rising productivity and in rising network costs. Employees are using more data with more devices to work longer hours, anytime and anywhere, and this report shows they're willing to connect with little regard for cost.

'This lack of cost sensitivity has the potential to dramatically impact corporate budgets. In order to gain the business benefits of the proliferation of consumer driven IT, enterprises must stay in front of the BYOD challenge by providing cost effective connectivity for mobile workers wherever they roam,' Kaplan continued. 'The idea of a universal computing device that supplants other devices has been on the radar for decades. What's interesting is that while the smartphone is ranked only behind the wallet and keys in importance, it's not displacing mobile workers' reliance on tablets or laptops. In fact, our data indicates that smartphone users also use more data on other devices, revealing an interesting phenomenon; essentially, the more you use the more you use.'

As employees have increasingly taken ownership over their own devices for work, the profile of the most popular smartphones in the enterprise has also changed. The iPhone remains in the top spot, with ownership among 53% of the mobile workforce up from its 45% share in 2011.

With 34% ownership (up from 21% in 2011), Android has taken over second place from BlackBerry, which is now the device of choice for just 26% of mobile workers (down from 32% in 2011).

Despite the billions that Microsoft has invested in revamping and marketing its mobile OS, Windows Phone remains in the last place of the major operating systems, with just 5% of mobile workers currently using it.

When asked about their other mobile devices, 59% of mobile workers said that they expect to rely on tablets more in the coming year, with the iPad remaining the dominant device as the preference for 54%.


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