TEM, MDM and the End of Unlimited Data Plans

Carl Weinschenk
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Seven BYOD Management Tips

The various elements of modern telecommunications fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It is impossible to talk about bring your own device (BYOD) without considering data rates and plans, security, mobile device management (MDM), strategies for efficiently managing services via telecom expense management (TEM) and other elements.

The New York Times posted a piece yesterday that reiterated what has been known for some time: The days of unlimited data plans are ending. The story acknowledges that it isn't a new trend and suggests that it is growing more granular and sophisticated:

But such tiered plans are probably only a transition toward a new way of charging for mobile data that will be much more exact, down to the kilobyte, and often tied to the destination of the Web browser.

On a deeply related front, enterprises see now that they must control mobile devices. This is true, of course, whether the tablet or smartphone is provided by the enterprise or brought to work by the employee. The organization has two goals: to ensure security and to control costs.

TEM and BYOD platforms are designed to help meet those goals. They will benefit by the transition to plans that more closely tie pricing to the amount of data used and the precise nature of that data. The bottom line: Targeted billing presupposes that the service provider perfects ways to tracking precisely what the subscriber is doing with his or her device. That base information can be used by TEM and MDM in very proactive ways.

As it stands now, TEM software digs down deeply into the huge and invisible infrastructure upon which the mobile worker stands. It assesses carriers, data plans, billing accuracy and a large number of other elements to let the employer know what is going on and to get it the best deal within the parameters that are assigned. As data plans become more granular, another very potent variable in the equation will be entered.

MDM also will play as crucial a role. The ability to dig into data usage will provide organizations with the ability to exert deep controls on what employees do with their devices. Computerworld offers a profile of Hyatt Hotels' BYOD policies. These are enforced through MDM technology. The bottom line is that the policies are stringent, which, of course, is appropriate considering what is at stake. Highly segmented data plans will provide deeper insight into what is happening in the field and give organizations with heightened ability to enforce existing rules - and others that were not previously possible.

This is happening today. eWeek this week posted a story describing what Zenprise's MDM software is being used for:

Enter Zenprise, which found out that Facebook, Angry Birds and Web browsers were blocked or closely monitored for malicious activity on smartphones and tablets used by some of its customers.
These apps were what Zenprise categorized as blacklisted apps. Meanwhile, traditional, enterprise-ready applications, such as Citrix and Adobe, were frequently given the green light because they were required, or whitelisted.

The big picture here is that vendors and organizations were blindsided by the explosion of folks using their own devices in the workplace. The move to tiered data services provides an expanded tool for organizations, their service providers and MDM and TEM vendors scrambling to catch up.

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