Mobile Data Costs, BYOD Major Concerns for IT Managers

The majority of survey respondents (57 percent) thought their mobile data roaming costs would rise in 2013.

IT departments are concerned about rising mobility costs and feeling frustration and loss of control over bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives, according to the iPass and MobileIron 2013 Mobile Enterprise Report, which surveyed 477 IT executives worldwide.

When asked about rising data costs, 44 percent of IT managers named the growing number of devices per mobile worker as a factor, while 41 percent highlighted pricey 3G (and 4G) data plans and 22 percent pointed to an increase in the number of mobile workers as major cost culprits.

The majority of survey respondents (57 percent) thought their mobile data roaming costs would rise in 2013, with 8 percent saying they'll rise more than 25 percent. The survey also found IT departments are increasingly losing control of mobility budgets as departments assume greater responsibility for mobile initiatives.

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 at $97 per month, exposing the expense of mobile broadband. The report noted that since free WiFi is abundant in North America, these fees primarily reflect non-WiFi forms of mobility, such as 3G and 4G.

The top two sources of frustration were onboarding and then supporting the increasing number and variety of personal devices, far outranking even security concerns. The number of enterprises in which IT manages the mobility spend has dropped to 48 percent, down from 53 percent in 2011. Forty percent of companies' mobility budgets are now managed by non-IT departments, the survey found.

"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," iPass chief technology officer Barbara Nelson said in a statement. “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.”

The survey also indicated that BYOD continues to gain ground. More than half (56 percent) of respondents said they have changed their corporate guidelines within the past year to be more accommodating of employees' preferences for using personal devices and 81 percent of respondents state their company now accommodates personal devices in the office.

However, of the 72 percent of enterprises with enterprise mobility strategies in place, only 37 percent of IT managers thought their own company's mobile strategy was effective, while 35 percent felt that their company had an insufficient approach.

“BYOD is more than just shifting ownership of the device to the employee,” MobileIron’s vice president of strategy, Ojas Rege, said in a statement. “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.”