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What... you didn't waste mobile data usage on a cat?

When a Formula 1 team investigated who was responsible for data spikes in its organisation, they found it was down to critical work-related imaging, not cat videos on Facebook.

I have the pleasure of introducing Telstra special guest Michael Covington, vice president of product strategy at Wandera -- an enterprise mobile security and data management company. He has been in IT for the past 20 years since he graduated with a PHD in access control modelling. Covington has worked for top IT vendors like Intel, Cisco, and Juniper Networks.

In my previous blog, I spoke about how the role of mobile in the enterprise was evolving and moving away from being just a simple communication tool. But will organisations be able to ensure their acceptable use policies and data cost management strategies are able to keep up with these changes?

If you think about current acceptable use policies, they are written for the world of desktop and laptop computers and certainly don't map to mobile. These policies speak a different language; they don't mention apps, tethering, roaming, or metered connections with associated costs.

Companies really need to rethink what is acceptable to do on a corporate mobile. I'm not talking about the things that come immediately to mind, like surfing for adult content or going to extreme websites -- those would be covered by a standard acceptable use policy.

I am talking about asking if it's OK to use social media when staff are in a roaming scenario. If you really think about it, the situation isn't so black and white and you really have to dig deep and think about the different job functions, before that can be answered. However, we have seen companies shying away from carrying out audits on mobile content requirements.

Instead, some companies take the approach of enforcing blanket restrictions on mobile device usage. Those companies that try to adopt overly strict policies to lock down a device completely except for a few whitelisted work apps, or those companies that only give executives with certain job functions a mobile device, may experience low productivity and staff retention problems.

There are a number of other challenges that come with these draconian approaches. We saw one of our customers start their mobility journey by deploying mobile devices and adopting an enterprise mobility management (EMM) tool to limit data consumption by controlling the use of non-corporate apps and removing the browser (which is a gateway to the wider internet).

However, they found that after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on buying the devices, the EMM licenses, the carrier plans, and training employees, it produced nothing in terms of return on investment. People took the devices that were locked down and left them in their desk drawer and didn't even use them to check corporate email.

A big part of this desire to lock down mobile phone usage comes from a lack of insight and understanding of how mobile devices are used in the enterprise. IT admins need to do a better job at being proactive with taking data usage statistics into account and projecting usage. Going back to their acceptable use policy and determining what it is they are deploying mobile for in the first place is a good place to start.

If it's to enable a certain enterprise application that is data-hungry by nature, then they need to factor that data usage into account. If it's just to make sure people stay connected, well, the reality is that most enterprise devices we see today use about 30 percent of total data on social media apps.

One of our customers, a Formula 1 team, was surprised to find out which department drove the highest data usage on their mobile phones. The organisation saw a significant amount of data spikes coming from pictures and videos. You'd almost assume this was for personal reasons -- wrong.

During the investigation into the data spikes, the IT team was surprised to learn it was the pit crews. What led to the mobile device usage in the pit? The crew was dealing with sensitive proprietary technology -- so when something breaks on one of the racing cars, they can't just run down to the local auto repairers and pick up a replacement. Instead, the crew had to take a picture, upload it, and send it to the manufacturers, so the unique part could be fabricated immediately to replace the broken one.

It's a really interesting assumption that video streaming is for personal reasons, but if you dig into what's going on, you can often be surprised. An organisation's leader in the management tier who defines specific policies must understand their user base and what people are doing on their mobile phones before implementing drastic rules.

Telstra and Wandera have teamed up to wrap a managed service around Wandera's Data Management tools. With the boundaries between personal and work-related mobile data usage becoming increasingly blurred, this has led to some unbalanced usage trends conducted on work devices.

Telstra and Wandera can better serve our customers and their challenges by assisting and advising on policy management, better secure their end points, and give deeper business insights and breakdown of how their mobile data is being consumed, through our visualisation reports.

Make sure you read my blog where I explore the dangers of Shadow IT, brought on by strict mobile device rules and policies.

Find out more from Telstra.