This blog is by Leslie Shannon at Nokia Networks.
Recently, I posted a blog inspired by the discovery that more than one in ten mobile phone owners in highly-advanced Korea was still using a 2G phone. I focused on how our industry has neglected older mobile phone users and how we could all do better at bringing the benefits of mobile data and all the services it can provide to elderly populations.
Then I had a chat with a Korean colleague. “Yes, older people tend to stay on 2G because they don’t see the value of moving to more sophisticated forms of mobile data,” she agreed. “But they’re actually not the majority of the 2G users in Korea. It’s another group entirely. It’s enterprise customers.”
This took my breath away. What???!! In one of the most technologically advanced nations on earth, businesspeople are the ones still using 2G? “Quite often they’ll buy a personal smartphone for themselves,” my colleague explained. “But their companies don’t see the benefit of providing them with anything beyond voice, so they have a second GSM-only phone that was given to them for their work.”
I was shocked. But then I started thinking about it. Every piece of information I have on the topic indicates that high-speed mobile data is predominantly valued and used by individual consumers. They’re the ones streaming video and posting cat videos on YouTube. Businesspeople are pretty content if they get mobile access to their e-mail. But the mistake here is in thinking that individual consumers and businesspeople are two different individuals, when in fact most workers are businesspeople while at work and individual consumers while away from it.
This suggests a significant opportunity for many operators: bringing their enterprise customers into the modern age by offering them 4G handsets and contracts that will satisfy their needs as individual consumers as well. “But wait!” cry the companies of the world. “I don’t want to pay for the stupid cat video streams that my employees will start watching on their business handsets as soon as they leave the office building!” And it’s exactly this point that I’ve heard from operators around the world – companies are afraid to offer 4G handsets and access because they’re afraid that their employees might actually use it, incurring costs while doing so.
This is where we need to start thinking about both employee productivity and employee satisfaction. It was only when I got the terrific Lumia 1020 that I was able to start performing a whole host of business functions on my phone that before were limited to my laptop. I am unquestionably a more efficient and effective worker because I can quickly check my e-mail while waiting for a plane to take off, with full and easy access to my complete office phonebook and the ability to view attachments. If I’m on a long business trip, I can manage my personal finances quickly and easily with my banking app no matter where I am, which increases my peace of mind – and so on. I also feel valued as an employee because my company has endowed me with a handset that I am both proud and delighted to carry, as opposed to having a company handset that is an embarrassment to me – and my company – any time I need to use it in front of customers. Or anyone.
But what about the cost issue, in the case where a company pays for the usage on a business-provided (or a BYOD) handset? I had a conversation with Telcel in Mexico where someone told me its solution to the problem was providing an enterprise rate plan in which the enterprise pays for a certain bucket of voice, texts, and data – and anything over and above that amount was paid for by the employee on a prepaid basis. Simple. I have since heard about variations of this plan from other operators in many other parts of the world, and all of those I spoken with report that it works well for everyone in the chain.
Operators of the world, the challenge is clear – there is an opportunity to be had in offering enterprise rate plans that allow people to be businesspeople between 9 and 5 and cat video watchers the rest of the time. And companies of the world, you can gain in both productivity and employee satisfaction with a carefully considered policy of offering your employees more than just a rock-bottom phone and service package.
Try it – you (and your employees) might like it!
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