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Enterprise resource planning management, the cloud and AT&T's pricing

AT&T’s announcement this week that it’s moving iPhone data plans to a tiered system is an interesting one. CIOs charged with enterprise resource planning management, especially with regard to the cloud, should take special note.

As you’ve probably heard, in lieu of a $30-a-month plan with unlimited data, AT&T will ask new iPhone subscribers to sign up for either a 200MB plan for $15 a month or a 2GB plan for $25 a month. In either case, a user can pay extra for increased data allowances.

Clearly, this is aimed more at the consumer than the corporate user (I’m still waiting to hear whether corporate users are moving to the iPhone platform for business purposes, since my impression is that the BlackBerry is still the king). But it could mark a subtle but important shift in how cell phone subscribers think about their usage. It’s a whole lot easier to keep track of cell phone minutes and text messages than it is data. Minutes and text messages are quantifiable and discrete, whereas the MB requirements that come with regularly checking one’s email or watching videos on YouTube aren’t as clear.

In the enterprise, one advantage of cloud computing that’s constantly being trumpeted is its scalability — enterprises can purchase the number of licenses they need based on the number of employees using the application. Again, very discrete numbers, but in the wake of AT&T’s decision, might we see other vendors following suit? Could cloud providers eventually offer even greater scalability, down to the number of minutes spent using their applications? Might the pricing discounts be worth the CIO inquiring about such options?

These are all points to ponder as enterprise resource planning management floats into the cloud. Would the AT&T tiered usage model be viable in this case? Sound off with your thoughts below.

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