We dismissed iPass' mobility expense calculator, but on reflection, we can agree with some of its aims.
On reflection neither of those things is in itself a bad thing. It's very hard indeed to calculate mobile data charges, since they are hidden in expense account receipts for Wi-Fi at hotels and airports, That's more or less the reason for the calculator - and we can't fault iPass for wanting to sell their service.
Inside most companies, says Piero DePauli, product manager at iPass there are two people who need to communicate. There's an IT manager, who's ready to take control of mobility, but there's also a finance director who has to approve the budget.
the company is probably spending about $60 a month per mobile worker, (very roughly) the calculator says, and much of that is in over-priced spot charges at hotels. The IT manager could do it better and cheaper, for a fixed monthly fee - but without an estimate of how much the company is already spending on mobile data, that fixed fee is gong to look like a new cost, to the finance director.
In other words, this is a tool to give IT managers more control. It's also a tool to divert money from greedy hotels into the IT department - and we support both these things.
It's also got other benfits, Piero tells me. Centrally managed moble access is going to be more secure, as it's easier to keep an up-to-date list of who can use it, and to respond swiftly when laptops or handsets go missing.
There's another benefit I can relate to. If the IT department organises remote access for me, and if the provider offers a good mix of 3G access and Wi-Fi locations, then it means the end of scrabbling for cheaper Wi-Fi. If I have to spend half an hour finding the cheapest Wi-Fi, that's half an hour's lost productivity.
The tool is an estimator only, and it doesn't factor in those "labour" costs of mobile access. It also passed up the opportunity to really show high mobile costs, by factoring in mobile roaming charges. They're so large in Europe, so variable and (thankfully) are now changing, that it would have skewed the model massively, he says.
I've not been an iPass user for ten years - and back then, it was a life-saver, when using dial-up abroad. It's a different story now, I'm told, combining 3G, Wi-Fi and dial-up.
I'm interested to know if IT managers do welcome what it offers.