Global mobile data usage on a growth path

Mobile devices have fast become the technologies of choice for accessing the internet, surpassing traditional PCs such as laptops and desktops.

A Nielsen report from early 2014 corroborated this, stating more time online is now spent on smartphones than PCs. US adults spent around 34 hours per month on mobile internet, as opposed to 27 hours on PC internet.

This isn't really surprising given the ease of operating the devices, coupled with the mobility and array of capabilities, as businesses can better equip employees to perform their roles outside the office. For example, staff can now easily log into email and access documents right from a smartphone or tablet.

As a result of the advantages of using mobile, data usage is set to climb over the next few years, according to a new report from ABI Research.

Climbing mobile data usage

A January 28 report from the firm found increasing upload and download speeds are now the main driver of mobile data usage, likely as it means less time waiting for pages to load and email to sync.

ABI stated the average amount of data consumed per subscriber will climb from 445 megabytes in 2014 to 2,289 megabytes in 2019. What's more, consumers are likely to start using the devices for more than just communication – arguably their primary function only a few years ago.

"These breakthroughs and stability of upload and download throughput, once commercially deployed, will enable mobile users to rely on mobile devices as primary entertaining and productivity solutions, in addition to communication," ABI noted.

Research Associate Lian Jye Su explained it's not surprising to find apps such as YouTube, BitTorrent and Facebook are now some of the most highly used apps, accounting for a substantial amount of mobile data traffic.

With devices on a fast track to becoming staple consumer devices for more than just communications, what exactly does this mean for businesses?

The impacts on businesses

Growing mobile usage is certainly beneficial for businesses, as it means employees will easily be able to take on new mobile devices and use them to communicate and collaborate.

Of course, there are other issues that arise from a growing mobile presence in businesses – namely potential security issues.

With any new technology there is a risk of security flaws creeping in, especially when the business is deploying systems for the first time. However, these risks can largely be mitigated thanks to a tight hold over particular technology.

With mobile, staff are taking smartphones and tablets outside the business – thus increasing the chances of them losing the devices and opening the business to a security risk. If a company mobile device was stolen, for example, a third party would potentially have access to company email, account information, messages and data from apps stored on the device.

This is where a bring your own device (BYOD) policy comes into play – a set of rules that help to ensure business mobile device security.

Of course, the level of security depends on the company, but businesses will often find the best combination to be the ability to remotely wipe mobile devices if they're lost and deactivate the accounts. Devices should also include pass codes and fingerprint scanners, availability permitting.

Mobile will continue to grow over the next few years, with both the number of devices rising and the amount of data consumed on the go. Security cannot be left to become a major issue.