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Mobile phone management strategy in a cloud-based world

Would paying for corporate mobile data in a cloud-like format change your mobile phone management strategy? It’s something to consider — AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson thinks the wireless industry is moving toward a usage-based pricing model for mobile data.

“For the industry, we’ll progressively move towards more of what I call variable pricing, so the heavy-[use] consumers will pay more than the lower-[use] consumers,” Stephenson said at an analyst conference this week.

A lot of analysts have seen this coming for a while. More mobile customers are sharing information via text messages, e-mails and even Skype on their smartphones rather than by making traditional phone calls, driving down their need to purchase pricier phone plans. (I speak from experience: A combination of these factors — especially Skype — has allowed me to remain with AT&T’s 450-minute calling plan, where I otherwise would have needed to trade up.) This could be viewed as a reflection of the cloud computing model that’s gotten so much buzz in the IT sphere, where you pay for what you use, rather than paying a flat rate.

These changes could drive up costs for big-time corporate users, who — like most mobile users — not only download and edit documents for their work, but also are inclined to surf the Web on their work phone during idle time. And why not? It doesn’t cost anything extra. But should IT start paying for mobile data based on usage, corporate mobile phone management policies might have to change.

Would a data-usage-based payment approach for mobile devices change your organization’s mobile phone management strategy or your mobile procurement decisions? What sort of mobile phone policies would you put into place for corporate users who also want to surf the Web?

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