Telecom expense management has an essential role to play as enterprises grow their mobility, cloud, and Internet of Things strategies
Managing corporate spend on telecom services plus audio, video, and Web conferencing is difficult enough, but toss in mobility and cloud initiatives around each of those, as applicable, and the effort gets all the more onerous — if not impossible.
Yet, many enterprise IT departments continue taking on this cost management burden themselves. Amalgam Insights, a startup enterprise technology advisory firm, estimates that 40% to 50% of organizations do not use telecom expense management software or services, as Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator, told us in our most recent No Jitter On Air podcast episode. That’s a big problem, he said, since the companies going it alone are almost always leaving money on the table.
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In fact, one of the key takeaways Park left No Jitter On Air listeners with is that an enterprise can expect to find about 15% to 20% of “financial fat” within unmanaged — from a spend perspective — telecom, mobility, and network environments. TEM solutions enable optimization by providing an understanding of inventory, service orders, rate plans, usage, and so on, he said.
And don’t be fooled by use of the word “telecom.” While TEM rose out of the need to enable better management of corporate phone lines, associated features, and network elements, “cost management has started to become a paradigm that is relevant to the rest of the IT world,” especially when considering the rising enterprise mobility mandate, the growth of the cloud-based software-as-service and infrastructure-as-as-service delivery models, and the growing Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, he said.
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Park shared some examples of how to think about modern TEM:
- Cloud telephony: With cloud telephony, TEM should allow enterprise communications managers to keep track of their monthly subscription costs, on a per-user basis. It should enable managers to match accounts with features to verify that users are receiving — and using — the services assigned to them. In a cloud PBX environment, TEM becomes even more relevant than it was in traditional telecom, Park said. “It’s not just a ‘set it and forget it’ server you have sitting somewhere in your data center.”The biggest opportunity here, he added, is the ability to manage change control more effectively — “making sure nobody slips through the cracks” and that services align with user roles. And, with increasingly robust analytics, TEM solutions can provide invaluable calling insight — for example, are salespeople making enough of the rightcalls each month?” They should be able to start seeing whether usage patterns are associated with improved business outcomes.
- Enterprise mobility: As a starting point for mobility, enterprises should look for a TEM solution that holds their contracts and can handle invoice processing — or trigger payment dispute notices, as needed. Additionally, the TEM solution should support a company’s service order processes, including submitting orders in the right format for each carrier and allowing users to order corporate-supported smartphones via a self-service mechanism.
- IoT: TEM is a great fit for managing IoT devices like smartphones and headsets. “No other business platform has a really good capability to manage … the tens of thousands of devices [an enterprise might have] with some sort of cellular or satellite component,” Park said. Companies might initially try to fit IoT into an enterprise resource planning or IT asset management tool, but overtime the service provider and service order components will overwhelm those systems, he added. “There are going to be some hiccups … and honestly this is probably going to take a few years as enterprises clomp through the inevitable first steps of doing it the wrong way before figuring out there’s a right way to do it.”