The Way Companies Pay, Account for Wireless Data is Changing

Carl Weinschenk

There are several interesting points and just as many open questions in the press release for In-Stat's new report, "US Business Spending by Size of Business and Vertical, 2009-2014: Wireless Data, Handsets, and Voice."


The key takeaway is that the rate of growth in wireless data among businesses will decline over the next few years. In the 2009-2010 timeframe, the report says, spending growth is pegged at 5.2 percent annually. That will shrink by more than half to 2.5 percent in 2013-2014. Total growth this year will be almost $27 billion.


The release offers other tidbits that further the theme: Handset spending will decline from $4.5 billion to $3.2 billion between this year and 2014, and wireless spending will increase only $600 million from 2010 to 2014.


Those are the predictions, but context is missing. Is the slowdown in annual spending due to a reduction in costs? It seems likely, since corporate users will be doing more, not less, talking, texting, messaging and other tasks as time passes. Reductions in spending could be laid to lower pricing by carriers and service providers and/or more efficient operations. Indeed, a new discipline,telecom expense management (TEM), has become firmly entrenched simply to confront the cost issue.


In other words, an assessment of spending is vital, but only half the story. The other half is to provide insight into actual patterns of use and how the two influence each other.


The fact that corporate use of wireless will increase despite the slower spending is evident in this Visage Mobile commentary. The essence of the piece, which is based on a Smart Business report, is that companies need to implement their own wireless data platforms instead of relying on less-flexible and more-expensive public options. The story says that the advantages of corporate solutions are clear:

Companies that depend on others for wireless connection are at a competitive disadvantage as more businesses are embracing the benefits of the mobile employee. Companies reliant on others for internet access waste money on fees and risk spotty connections, which is why corporate mobility solutions make sense.

Another trend that will make it difficult to peg how spending and usage interrelate is the growth of "personal-liable" end user gear. As Marguerite Reardon explains in this CNET New story on the use of the approach by Harrah's Entertainment, it's attractive to businesses. She writes:

Earlier this year the Aberdeen Group released a survey titled "Enterprise Mobility Strategies 2010: More Mobility, Same Budget," which showed that nearly 73 percent of companies today allow some or all employees to use personal-liable mobile devices for work. These are devices that employees own and pay for. The trend is expected to continue with the Aberdeen Group projecting that 8 percent of the 200 organizations it surveyed will allow all their employees to use personal devices within the next 12 months.

Thus, end-user devices are taken off organizations' books, but usage increases. So the way that businesses pay for mobility is changing as quickly as the overall category is growing. Figuring out precisely what is happening depends upon getting the answers to a variety of questions.

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