By Dennis Jones
Workforce mobility isn’t a fad; it’s here to stay. Just to give you a sense of its magnitude, three-quarters of the workforce in the world’s two largest trading blocs, the U.S. and the EU, will be mobile by the year 2020. The rest of the world isn’t too far behind either; fast-growing emerging economies like Brazil, China, India and South Africa are also seeing a significant surge in mobility among their working populations. So what does this all mean for the enterprise?
Well for one, the increasing mobility of workers has had a massive impact on productivity. A Dimension Data survey found that 80 percent of IT professionals considered that an increase in worker productivity was the greatest benefit of enterprise mobility. And those productivity gains are shared across industry, from public governance to consulting, manufacturing, financial and business services, as well as burgeoning technology sectors.
But the rub is enterprise mobility isn’t cheap – far from it. Mobile connectivity costs North American and European businesses at least $2.91 billion dollars. Individual, enterprise mobility solutions cost money, of course. But it’s keeping a mobile workforce connected that can get pricey, especially if you haven’t thought seriously about enterprise mobility.
Naturally, companies might look at those numbers and feel like they’re in a double bind: spend or sacrifice. But remember, keeping a mobile workforce connected – and connected to the best possible source – is the only way to recoup those productivity gains.
Luckily, mobile workers are savvy. They will try to get connected, wherever they are. But without an enterprise mobility strategy, they are opting for one of the following three mobile connectivity options, cellular, pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi. And each has significant downsides.
Most people have cellular plans. They work incredibly well for domestic travel, except in the places where cellular coverage doesn’t reach, like in airplanes, certain hotels, buildings and rural locations, and on the devices that don’t connect to cellular, like laptops and tablets. But you run into issues though when you need to travel abroad. You either incur massive international roaming charges or you pay your provider extra to roam on their (international) partner networks.
On first glance, a combination of pay-as-you-go Wi-Fi and a cellular plan seems like all a mobile worker would need. At the airport, for instance, your phone connects to cellular, but you buy a pass to connect to the airport Wi-Fi. That sounds good enough until the number of passes you have to buy starts adding up. For instance, there’re hard costs of nearly $150 associated with this method. Moreover, Wi-Fi passes are usually time-sensitive, so what are you going to do when you’ve reached the end of your half-hour of service, but you still have critical tasks to complete, like signing a contract?
Everyone loves free. So that’s why so many people think free Wi-Fi is the cure to their connectivity ills. But free Wi-Fi is anything but free. It costs you time and effort to find a usable free Wi-Fi hotspot. That effort translates into lost labor, which impacts the bottom line. For the average mobile worker, those lost labor costs could amount to more than $1,150 per year. And that’s just the average mobile worker; imagine a busy CEO or even an in-demand consultant or lawyer who has to rely on a patchy network of free Wi-Fi hotspots.
So when it comes to the most cost-effective method to keep a mobile workforce connected, nothing comes close to the monthly global Wi-Fi subscription model. Not only does it ensure that businesses get greater visibility into their mobile connectivity expenses, but it also guarantees that mobile workers have unlimited, always-on Wi-Fi access around the world, specifically in the places they need to connect to stay productive.