So why does the corporate mobile market insist in working this way?
If you’re a member of the human race, then you’ve probably noticed that as a species we come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes and have wonderfully different tastes and preferences.
So, guess what? Pretty much everything we buy has a variant that’s been crafted or tailored to meet our individual needs. Except of course when it comes to corporate mobile network agreements; where for some reason “one size fits all” seems to have become the default setting, normally in the form of “Unlimited voice minutes plus some shared data”. I get the argument. It’s “simple” to manage, as everyone gets unlimited minutes with access to the shared data plan, and as some may use a little less and some a little more, it all averages out in the wash.
This thing is, for most large businesses that’s total BS, let me explain why.
The harsh realities are that most of your employees have already stopped using traditional mobile voice minutes and SMS, and many don’t even use that expensive shiny new iPhone you gave them. During Covid and lockdown restrictions, your users switched to MS Teams (or your own favoured brand of collaboration tool) which they quite like; and now they’re back out and about commuting and travelling they’re still using these tools, and they’re not going back to old school mobile minutes. In their own personal lives, they’ve been using FaceTime, WhatsApp, and anything but mobile minutes for years, and so the precedent is already set. It’s not just the unlimited voice minutes plan that is becoming less relevant, dial- in audioconference calling is dead and so is your investment in your on prem IP-PBX (or DC located for the IT pedants out there). The bottom line is that many simply don’t use any of the voice minutes you pay for, and those that do are consuming less traditional mobile minutes than ever.
Everyone’s moved to data, whether that be over Wi-Fi or Cellular, and the way they use that data varies wildly, especially on corporate-issued phones. Let’s look at some of the top-level insights.
First up, normally 5-15% of corporate users that get issued with a business mobile phone and SIM don’t use it at all. Let that sink in.
They’ve already got a better personal phone and that’s what they use most of the time. Your investment was never questioned or challenged, they just took the phone and put it in a draw, or they keep it in their laptop bag for emergencies.
Then there’s the next group, like the first they already have their own phone, but feel compelled to drag yours around also. You can spot these users quite easily, they’ve got 2 iPhones on the desk, but mainly seem to use their personal one, and they normally look slightly bewildered (I made that last bit up, but anecdotally most I speak to have no idea why they got a business phone in the first place, and few were asked whether they’d consider BYOD). This group is pretty significant and typically represents around 20-40% of corporate users. These users represent a great opportunity to revisit BYOD models and work out if there is a better way of encouraging users to use their own device, but in a way that works for them also. Behind most failed BYOD programmes are normally issues around privacy, security, using personal numbers and expense policies – all of which can be dealt with better today, than ever before. Address these users and you can save a lot of money on device costs, reduce your carbon footprint and release IT resources.
Next up we’ve got the Gen X’ers (that me by the way), easily identified in the corporate IT world from our balding appearance and outdated sense of humour. We got our mobile number decades ago and thought it was a good idea to share that number far and wide, both personally and at work. We didn’t really think about the consequences and now that 11-digit mobile number is so inextricably linked to our identity and ability to function as a human in modern society that we’ve resigned ourselves to using one device and number for eternity. Also, we can’t be bothered with the amount of communication involved with updating friends and family about a new number, so I suppose we’ll just have to put up with endless interruptions on our days off. The plus side, that corporate iPhone investment is getting really good use, and we still occasionally use some of these mobile voice minutes that you pay for. The downside however, is that after the party has ended, we’ve now finally worked out what social media is, and can’t believe that cat and dog videos were so funny after all, and so we’ve inadvertently starting consuming GB’s of video daily, boring the pants of our family with videos that they saw years ago on TikTok. As a result, IT are having to increase shared data allowances like never before to keep up. Finally, there’s a small but growing group that are native video users, and whether streaming, gaming, collaborating, or creating, everything they do uses video. Although they only normally represent 1-3% of users, they can often consume 30 – 50% of all data in a shared plan.
I personally believe that mobile data usage on corporate devices is starting to polarise. At one end, we have a growing group of users that derive little or no value from their corporate issued mobile devices and SIMS, and at the other we have those who are starting to consume vast amounts of data. The thing is, neither of these usage profiles belong anywhere near a shared corporate data plan. And so, if your business has a “one size fits all” model of issuing devices (often without consulting with the user) which are all linked to a shared data plan, then in all likelihood you’re not only wasting a lot of money but you’re also missing a great opportunity to become more sustainable and release your IT team and resources for more productive work in the process.
If you’d like to learn more about what’s really going on with your own corporate mobile device usage and discuss better ways of supporting users and saving money, then please do get in touch.