Five Considerations When Selecting Voice and Data Plans for Business

    Just as important as choosing the right mobile device, selecting the right voice and data plan is vital to your business. However, with hundreds of options on the market, deciding which voice and data plan is most suitable for your business can be a huge challenge – no matter the type or number of mobile devices you’re rolling out.

    The right voice and data plan helps ensure that your business has access to the information that you need, when you need it, without overpaying. In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to find ways to cut costs and maximize efficiencies, and pursuing the most appropriate voice and data plan is one way to uncover additional savings.

    To decide which voice and data plan is right for your business, it is best to take a good look at your organization’s specific needs. Do you heavily rely on line-of-business software applications in the field? Are your employees using their devices to unnecessarily stream data unrelated to work? How much hardware support do you require?

    In this slideshow, Barcoding, Inc.‘s Kelly Harris, director of program management, has identified a few key considerations that should be taken into account when selecting your business’ next voice and data plan.

    Five Considerations When Selecting Voice and Data Plans for Business - slide 1

    Click through for five factors organizations should consider when choosing a voice and data plan for their business, as identified by Kelly Harris, director of program management, Barcoding, Inc.

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    How much data do you actually need?

    Understanding data requirements for the lead application is the first step in any analysis. While your software vendor can usually provide general estimates and ranges of typical data usage with their application, it’s important to take a holistic look at the business and your users’ overall requirements when considering data usage. Layering applications is a crucial part of the equation when looking to maximizing the value of a technology investment. Corporate email, messaging, and turn-by-turn directions are all other options to enhance the user experience and value, but will subsequently impact data consumption.

    Streaming music and videos puts a huge drain on data consumption. Unless these are important to your business needs, it might be best to limit users’ access to anything outside of business applications. So, setting corporate policies is a must. A device management platform can ensure that you’re only paying for the connectivity that your business requires to get the job done by allowing you to whitelist/ blacklist applications (ex: blocking Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, etc.).

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    What about voice?

    Is voice a requirement for your users? If so, the same rules as above apply. However, in many cases, you can access current use data from existing phones – an added advantage. When analyzing past usage to plan for future needs, it’s important to consider the impact of the new software application on the need for voice. In delivery, for example, if drivers were previously called into dispatch to report back in or assist in processing transactions, and now that will be handled through the new mobile software application (and thereby the data plan), then the voice requirement has decreased.

    If voice is not required and this is strictly a line-of-business application (data only), there are many options for data connectivity not otherwise available. For example, you could go through an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) who purchases bulk access to network services from the tier-1 carriers at wholesale rates and then independently sets retail prices. This allows them to create custom data packages for customers above and beyond (or below and around) the pre-packaged solutions the carriers might have available.

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    It pays to share

    Your mother always told you to share, and that adage applies here, too. Pooling plans for both voice and data are a great way to ensure all users have access to the connectivity that they need while avoiding overpaying and overage fees. This is particularly useful when managing both devices in the field and those on “standby” to be used as spares.

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    Where will the devices be used?

    Understanding the geographic footprint of your users is vital in selecting the appropriate carrier. While almost all of the tier-1 cellular carriers in the United States cover most major cities and markets, the disparity tends to come outside of city lines. Will your users frequently need to be “online” in rural or remote areas? Is this an international deployment, or are there any users that will be working in multiple countries?

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    Hardware support

    For most applications, many hardware options will fit the bill. However, in others, the requirements are so specific that it narrows the field to only one or two options for a handheld (or smartphone) device. This is more frequently the case with RFID (radio frequency identification) rollouts and other projects requiring components and accessories for a very specific purpose. In those instances, there may be limited support for wireless connectivity and support for only UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems). As a global standard, UMTS is the default for many hardware companies in their product design versus CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access), which only benefits them in North America.

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    Review actual usage

    Lastly, while “set it, and forget it!” might work for Ron Popeil, once you’ve decided on the appropriate plans for your solution, it’s important to review actual usage both initially and periodically. This will allow you to confirm your decision and make any adjustments needed to ensure that your company is getting the most value out of the plan you’ve chosen.

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