How to budget for international connectivity

With budgets currently being set by large corporates, it’s worth looking at international data solutions for next year’s budget.

October 28, 2013

With budgets currently being set by large corporates, it’s worth looking at international data solutions for next year’s budget.

It’s the time of the year when corporates set their budgets for the following year and one of the biggest variables corporates face with employees travelling abroad on business is international data costs. This often results in “bill shock” with departments having to scramble to find funding when employees come back with unexpectedly high data bills.

Craig Lowe, execMobile founder, says planning for data bills is extremely problematic because standard international data costs are so expensive and unexpected data usage overseas can run into the hundreds of thousands of Rands.

“Unexpected data expenditure has led to 38 percent of business travellers turning off their phones when travelling, fearing high data bills. Companies have also responded with out-dated solutions, forcing employees to buy local SIMs or using public Wi-Fi.

However, public Wi-Fi in hotels is increasingly not an option for many corporates because of the security concerns associated with them, says Lowe. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are also getting more and more congested because of the increase in the number of devices carried by people, resulting in slower download rates. Access is often in public areas, which lowers employees’ productivity.

“The challenge therefore lies in empowering employees to be more productive while mitigating risk with smart roaming connectivity alternatives,” he says.

Several South African corporates have already instituted roaming connectivity policy, which is becoming an international trend for companies that have embraced a mobile workforce, utilising cloud based services.

“Policy ensures finance, HR and IT departments work together to select solutions which benefit the company and empower employees while travelling internationally. It also ensures full line of site of costs, while employees know exactly what options are available to them when travelling abroad,” he says.

Lowe says eXecMobile’s PocketWifi offers personal secure data connectivity at a fraction of the cost of local mobile operators’ offerings.

“Companies can therefore mitigate unexpected expenditure by setting monthly spend limits or utilising an affordable fixed daily costs for unlimited data. This enables corporates to budget based on finite costs or know days abroad. Monitoring systems can now also provide detailed user information, including device battery level, the number of connected devices, mobile network signal strength and data usage. Companies can even prevent streaming based services (music or video content delivery) if needed.

“In turn, the employee gets instant Internet access anytime, anywhere and from any mobile device without having to be concerned about security or the risk of data loss,” he says. The employer on the other hand is able to budget for essential connectivity costs abroad.