Do you want to be dictated to by your roaming data solution?

The #billshock headlines that we’ve all seen predominantly relate to consumers, as they forget that they need to alter their data usage habits when travelling. 

We all do it.  Our phones are rarely more than arm’s length away so that we can react to emails, tweets and even the occasional text.  We hate to be without our phones and, although the figures vary, it seems we check out phones about 150 times a day.  Can you imagine your life without your BlackBerry, your Galaxy or your iPhone?  How would we cope?

Within our working lives, it is broadly the same.  No matter how much the time management gurus talk to us about allocating time to email and ignoring it [for the rest of the day], we still want to know what’s happening and be able to respond quickly when a client or our manager gets in touch.

Things then get a little hazy when we travel on business.

There are really two schools of thought here. The first that employed people really don’t care what the costs are when they access their email, download a document from their office servers or update LinkedIn.  The other school is that, actually they do care and so behaviour changes in order to manage those costs. The question that then follows is what does the IT Director do as has a dilemma too.

The IT Director’s role, at a very simplistic level, is to keep the business running.  We all rely on our laptops/desktops/tablets and on our phones to be able to do our job.  We, on the whole, don’t care how they work and what is necessary to keep them working; we just want them to work so we can do our jobs.  The problem is that they have a budget to work to.  As we gallivant around the world, the roaming bills comes flooding in.  With UK mobile operators charging up to £8 per MB and some US carriers charging their customers up to $24 per MB, the cost of accessing our email as we pass from one meeting to another can quickly add up.  The cost of those calls back to the office, reporting another sale or to curse the ground they walk on, can soon pile further costs on top of the bill already incurred for roaming data.

The solution is to do something that impacts either the amount of data being used, or the cost of said data.

Let’s look at kerbing data use first.

There are two ways to do this: compress the data so less is used, or stop it being used in the first place. The easiest way to stop data being used when business people are travelling is to stop them doing certain things: no social media updates (even if they’re in marketing!) or no downloads when you’re away from the hotel. You have to be on a WiFi network before you can get your email.

That’s all very well until a meeting overruns. You are hurrying to the next one but you need some last minute figures. You then can’t get them, because of this policy, unless you find a WiFi signal. But you don’t have time to find a coffee shop or to nip back to your hotel, but you can’t go to your next meeting without the information. Do you risk the wrath of the IT Director at this point?

Compressing the data means adding another step to your processes (albeit automatically done by your phone/tablet) and that will reduce the costs. Some of the data compression companies can deliver 20+% compression and so save you a chunk of money.

The alternative is to reduce the cost of the data used.  Here’s why we think it’s a better way.

  1. No additional software on your device, using up processing power and (more importantly) battery life
  2. No major change in behaviour is required. As you land, you simply connect your phone and tablet to a MiFi device and away you go.  You can do what you like, when you like.
  3. There’s much less chance the IT Director is going to be “after you” when you get back to your office
  4. You can quickly and easily get the data you need for your meetings, if you didn’t download it before you left the hotel that morning.  Your meeting goes much better and you can then make that call make to the office to share the great news and get them changed from a prospect to a client in Salesforce!

What are your thoughts on this?

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