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Need to Make a Carrier Data Decision?

Posted on July 13, 2017 by Matt Louden

accurate carrier dataEnterprise mobility programs can be dramatically different from one company to the next, but even the most advanced device and expense management efforts fail if they don’t have one important ingredient: accurate carrier data.

While some organizations still rely on data usage applications or screen-scraping technology to gather this information, direct Application Programming Interface (API) integration is the choice for most mobility efforts moving forward. Here’s why:

Inaccurate Data

Ironically, most monitoring apps aren’t reliable when it comes to tracking monthly carrier data usage. In fact, apps and service providers could be calculating data usage in completely different ways. Additionally, many of today’s wireless carriers have partnerships with other mobile services providers, meaning certain app or website data consumption is free for its users—apps lack the capabilities required to track these differences.

Some apps also have trouble distinguishing cellular and Wi-Fi data consumption, which obviously makes them problematic to use (and largely irrelevant) in any expense management capacity.

An API integration, on the other hand, avoids these issues by directly importing accurate carrier data from the provider(s) of choice.[tweet]

If a program leverages more than one carrier, screen-scraping methods can cause inaccuracies too. Since this technology is designed to scan and pull a service provider’s portal information like a human being, different website designs and unnormalized data often results in aggregation failure. An API integration, on the other hand, avoids these issues by directly importing accurate carrier data from the provider(s) of choice.

Misleading Costs

When considering potential solutions, many enterprises are enticed by a free download or small, one-time purchase fee. What most programs miss, however, is that these apps need to run constantly to work correctly. That means even if an employee successfully reduces their usage, the app itself could eat through enough data to cause overages each month.

Most apps are also incapable of saving or customizing the start and end dates for carrier billing periods. If a business doesn’t pay its bills on the last day of each month, using apps for any sort of budgeting or forecasting purposes is pretty much impossible—especially if usage totals aren’t reset every 30 days.

Screen-scraping is also deceptively cheap at first glance. While procurement costs for these solutions appear low, solution upkeep, data losses due to performance failure, and dependency on desktop technologies end up making things quite costly in the long run.

While API-driven solutions may be slower and more exorbitant to adopt, the result is accurate usage data configured to satisfy specific business needs without hidden future costs.[tweet]

Even slight changes to a single carrier portal can cause screen-scraping to completely fail. Anything more significant could require an entirely new implementation, which is extremely expensive and time-consuming to create and put into action. While API-driven solutions may be slower and more exorbitant to adopt, the result is accurate usage data configured to satisfy specific business needs without hidden future costs.

Security Risks

Mobility program safety is also something to keep in mind. An increasing number of apps today require a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection to function properly, meaning all user traffic is routed through a third-party server; connectivity, data speeds, and other apps’ performance could be negatively impacted; and secure end-user connections are not always ensured.

Screen-scraping is even more risky. By suddenly increasing carrier website traffic and collecting data, some sites mistakenly identify this technology as some form of automated attack. While legal ramifications and data retrieval slowdowns aren’t guaranteed, they can and do occur. These solutions also lack the privacy and security certifications that have become typical for API integrators, potentially exposing data and making its users susceptible to future attacks.

Direct API integrations create an experience tailored specifically to an enterprise’s needs and require only a single set of business logic to be managed.[tweet]

Unlike data usage monitoring apps and screen-scraping methods, direct API integrations create an experience tailored specifically to an enterprise’s needs and require only a single set of business logic to be managed. Ask one of our enterprise mobility experts and sign up for a software platform tour to learn more about the advantages integrations and accurate carrier data provide.

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