Over the last year, IT has had to act fast to adapt to the unprecedented disruption of COVID-19. Mobile usage has fluctuated as employees adjust to new working conditions. Anticipating mobile usage and the broader IT challenges in the coming years has never been more difficult for businesses.
Lockdown 2020 – “3 years’ worth of change in 3 months.”
2021: Emerging Strategic IT Challenges
The last year saw a huge adoption of unified comms, with everything from Zoom to Microsoft Teams gaining traction. These technologies have now become an established part of the everyday business process. Organisations must now take steps to ensure that they understand how these tools work in and out of the organisation, and how they can complement one another.
The traditional IT support model no longer works with hybrid working. Smartphones can be remotely built and deployed from the box in a streamlined way. Gradually, this learning is beginning to be applied across a variety of endpoints. The traditional IT model is now a much more distributed model, deploying devices to users across the country.
How are organisations preparing for the return of employees to the office? User requirements will see them moving around far more than previously and the office must be able to support this. Such activities increase the demands placed on the office’s wireless network. Issues are already emerging, with office Wi-Fi struggling to cope with the increased demands of voice and video.
Skills and Resources
New technologies and changes being delivered are putting a strain on already overstretched skills and resources.
“Snap Back” or “New Normal”?
The primary question that everyone wants the answer to. A fundamental change has taken place over the last twelve months. Business processes changed at a moment’s notice, re-engineered around the use of technology.
With users no longer required to work in the office five days a week, and with lockdown restrictions lifted, it is increasingly likely that employees will work from a variety of locations during their working week. Everywhere from trains to coffee shops could be frequented daily. However, this freedom comes hand-in-hand with another problem – poor and patchy Wi-Fi. When encountering bad Wi-Fi, many users will set up a hotspot from their phone as a solution.
5G has been quietly rolling out. Whilst it may have been temporarily held up by the Huawei rulings in the UK, approximately 5% of UK users now have access to 5G, with this number only set to steadily increase. 5G is currently on track to be the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology in history.
However, 5G will take time and cost money. Carriers will transfer the costs of establishing and running these networks to their customers over time. The technology is also speeding up 4G networks. Whilst this may be great for users, the faster that they consume data, the faster that bills will rack up. 5G handsets have arrived and will affect business mobile tariffs and plans.
Pre-Brexit, mobile carriers had little choice but to offer free EU roaming to their customers. Post-Brexit, carriers are already seizing the opportunity to increase their profits. EE and O2 have already announced plans to reintroduce EU roaming charges, despite stating in January 2021 that they had no plans to do so.
Mobile Network & Device Management – Post Lockdown
The last year saw a drastic change in data consumption. Organisations are teetering on the precipice, with many unaware whether their data consumption will revert as they come out of a post-lockdown environment, or if it will explode as users move around more and video becomes the primary means of communication.
Video, whilst convenient, is a major data consumer, with one hour of video calling using around a gigabyte of data. Corporate users who might have previously used 2-3GB of data a month could now use this in an hour or two.
Changing Usage Profiles
Despite users largely being confined to their houses for a year, corporate data consumption has increased dramatically since March 2020. The resulting impact on corporate bills has been significant, with businesses quickly running out of data on their shared data pools, resulting in heavy costs.
The vast majority of employees are still using similar or even less data overall. However, total usage and bills have increased over the last year.
Historically, the top 1% of corporate data users were responsible for 10-15% of corporate data usage. Whilst this was always an existing problem, it was usually a very small group of users. Typically, these users were either already working from home, or worked out in the field a lot. They were given the same mobile tariff as other users, however, due to poor Wi-Fi and connectivity, they were tethering continuously from their corporate phones.
As lockdown eases, this expected usage has changed dramatically.
The top 1% of data consumers have increased usage, now accounting for 20-30% of all corporate data usage. However, it’s not just the top 1% who have seen a huge increase. The top 5% of users have also increased consumption, now accounting for 50% or more of overall corporate data usage.
Understanding why this is happening, and looking at how it can be managed with regards to policy, tariffs, and technology in the future will be extremely important.
Understandably, roaming dropped sharply from the beginning of 2020. Many businesses who had negotiated roaming contracts in 2018/9 were locked into roaming data plans and had to continue to pay for them, despite none or few of their employees actually actively roaming. Going forward, businesses must now consider their future plans for roaming.
Long-term Proactive Cost Control
The “one size fits all” approach to mobile network and cost management that so many businesses use can result in significant overspending:
- Rapidly changing data usage profiles – issues quickly turn into cost.
- Homeworking on mobile requires different technology and data plans.
- In-month usage monitoring & alerts are critical – especially with 5G.
- Monthly analysis and reporting are essential to track issues and trends.
- Educate users and on policy, own usage and costs to help with control.
- Flexible tariffs essential – shared data is not always appropriate.
- Prepare for the return of roaming over the contact term – daily roaming plans are more effective than shared roaming plans.
Negotiating Effective Contracts
Flexibility has never been more important when negotiating mobile agreements.
Mobliciti’s Key Tips:
- Separate device and network purchasing
- Remove “tech funds” and focus on SIM only. A tech fund requires you to accurately predict your expenditure – difficult in a post-COVID world.
- Reduce commitments, lock-ins and penalties
- Model multiple scenarios of usage for data and roaming
- Ensure a range of tariffs or data plans are available to meet all use cases
- Review in-month usage reporting and alerting capabilities
- Start negotiations early
- Flexibility to adapt is critical
Simplifying Device Management
With users now working remotely and IT teams often no longer on-site, it might appear difficult to deploy and manage devices. Using Zero Touch Enrolment is critical to simplify device deployment.
Apple Business Manager, Android Enterprise Zero Touch Enrolment and Samsung Knox Managed Enrolment are all available and configurable with most UEM platforms. This allows for low-risk distribution of devices to end-users at home. There’s no actual data on the device when it’s shipped and it’s fully locked to the business.
Zero Touch Enrolment also removes the need for user credential sharing. 99% of users can self-configure when using Zero Touch with limited IT involvement.
Mobliciti’s Virtual Mobile Manager (VMM) is designed for businesses that require hands-on and experienced support to ensure that mobile services, costs, and usage are optimised and proactively managed on an ongoing basis.
Working as a direct extension of your IT Team, VMM supports the UK’s main mobile networks providers including EE, O2, Vodafone, BT Mobile & Daisy.
By utilising Mobliciti’s VMM, organisations can free up their IT team, allowing them to focus on strategic work, focusing on IT transformation and higher priority IT projects.
Mobliciti’s Inview Mobile reporting & management platform provides effective reporting and analysis to ensure your mobile estate is optimised.
Monthly Business Mobile Dashboard
Cost and Usage Trend Reporting
Exceptional Usage and Cost Alerts
Detailed Investigation and Analysis Tools
Inactive Connection Reporting
Data Usage Monitoring
Exceptional Usage Management and Monitoring
Inventory Reporting and Tracking
Cost Centre Reporting
Monthly Analyst’s Healthcheck Review – As part of the VMM service, Mobliciti will review all costs and usage on a monthly basis to highlight areas of concern, and then take ownership of implementing any changes required. Get in touch to find out more.