Home » More and More Data Usage: How Much is Enough?

More and More Data Usage: How Much is Enough?


Experica, LLC
Owner / Manager

Larry Treas discusses one of the primary areas of charge-blindness in a mobility program: data usage. Companies expect to pay for data services and eventually just get used to paying more and more no matter how high the charges. In the following article, you will see how to check your blindness to this wireless expense.

When reviewing different companies’ invoices, I continually see one common theme – data usage is on the increase.

In fact, data usage in most companies is growing at a phenomenal rate, with monthly totals growing 5-15% every month. Are businesses growing at this rate? I don’t think so!

The profound question is: how much is really enough for the enterprise employee? The use for a large portion of an enterprise is small compared to a group of about 5-10% who eat up around 50-70% of all data used. You are probably thinking “Why do you think we have unlimited data plans?” And, yes, you are correct on that front – this will handle high data users; yet many users do not need unlimited data.

How much data is enough to perform necessary job functions? To get an idea of how much is enough, we can use data calculators from various wireless providers: AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and others. These calculators allow a company to create a personalized approach by considering a number of different variables on either a daily or monthly basis. Some variables might include the following:

  • Number of emails received
  • Number of attachments per email
  • Hours of streaming music
  • Hours of surfing
  • Apps
  • Music downloads
  • On-line gaming
  • Navigation, etc.

Let’s look at some data usage calculations: 100 emails for 21 business days uses 0.18 GB per month. If we then say 100 emails a day, 20 hours of surfing a month, 20 Apps or games, the total usage is about 0.56 GB of data per month. Again, how high are some of your users’ data usage numbers at the end of the month? So let’s add in a few more variables – 21 hours of streaming music and 40 social media posts per month. The total data used is now 1.18 GB per month. When we start adding Video calls and Video streaming, this is where the numbers increase at a heavy pace. Even adding Video calling at 15 minutes a day for 21 days, the total is still less than 3GB of data used per month. So why again is the data increasing at such a pace? By reviewing the data calculator, we see that Streaming Video (especially high definition), Video Calls, and Streaming Music (respectively) cause this. With data calculators at your disposal, a company can then determine how much company/personal data it is willing to bankroll.

Ultimately, I suggest creating a Best Practices document, where one of the areas covered is the appropriate amount of data usage, and what happens if someone exceeds this limit, thus costing the company money. This Best Practice tool/document assists in reducing cost, reducing frustration of managing users, and decreasing soft dollar cost. The time to create this document up front is well worth the time, effort and cost!

One best practices in analyzing wireless data is to have a great invoice analysis tool. I use MobilityCentral from Visage, which has a number of trending reports where I can see data usage and other services, as well as track trends for individual usage over time. I like this tool because the data from for each of my customers sits in one front-end which is easy to access and use.

Tools are only as good as their operators. I spoke to a CIO recently and he asked the question, “What am I seeing and what am I supposed to do with what I see?” It is important to have a Trusted Resource to help guide you through the vast amounts of data available for analysis. Those trusted resources help outline the policies you should consider, what reports you should monitor, and inform you on industry trends and pace. In all of these areas, Experica shines.

In conclusion, I have seen a handful of companies keeping their employees’ data usage below an average of 2 GB/month. You are probably thinking “No way! Oh, this company really doesn’t have the same needs as we do.” In my experience, I have to disagree with this thought process. I also believe that 95% of high data usage is outside of business needs. This is okay, by the way, if everyone agrees to what it is costing the company today, and how it will affect the company in the future.

Larry Treas has demonstrated to many companies, including members of the Top 50 Companies in the USA, his level of expertise arising from 35 years of optimizing, auditing and negotiation of wireless services through his consulting and analyst work.

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