Monthly Archives: July 2010
Since the break-up of the Bell companies in the early 80s, there have been many new complex telecom technologies, services and plans and a variety of telecom providers that have entered the telecom space. With these complexities, come opportunities as well as threats for telecom users. One of the threats that has come with divestiture has been inaccurate billing, usually caused by the use of legacy billing systems designed to handle a basic, simple mix of circuits and services, and utilizing codes that were developed by the Bell companies around those services.
As more complex, negotiated rates and services have come about with more competition, there is a propensity for errors in data entry of contracted rates and for legacy billing systems to apply the inappropriate charge, most in favor of the telecom supplier. To make matters worse, in the past 20 years, there have been numerous mergers and acquisitions among telecom vendors requiring the merging of disparate billing systems. This has dramatically exacerbated the problem.
Telecom users in North America spend a significant amount of money on telecom services and equipment. Telecom services are defined as “fixed”(also known as “wired” or “wireline”) including local, long distance/800, conference calling, wide area network (WAN) and internet; and “wireless” including cellular, blackberries, PDAs, smart phones and pagers. According to Forrester, “typically 3% to 6% of an enterprise’s gross revenues are spent on telecom services with 72% of the average North American enterprise telecom services’ budget spent on landline and 28% on wireless services.”
These companies are challenged with the management of carrier billing that is complex and fraught with errors. Forrester estimates that “billing errors average 5% to 12% of ongoing telecom services budgets.” In addition, during the past 20 years of auditing telecom invoices, Valicom has found that over 35% of invoices have some type of error, discrepancy or overcharge in them. Based on this, it is prudent to err on the side of caution when auditing your telecom invoices.
To learn more about the best approaches to performing telecom audits and expense management functions for your organization, read Valicom’s whitepaper entitled “Can TEM SaaS Solutions Lower Your Telecom Expenses For Mid-Market Companies?” OR go this link to download a streaming vido of the webinar sponsored by Valicom about this topic.
According to Healthcare IT News – physician adoption of smartphones is experiencing exponential growth, as reported in “Point of Care Communications for Physicians,” a new study from Spyglass Consulting Group.
The report reveals 94 percent of physicians are using smartphones… This represents a 60 percent increase from 2006, based on Spyglass’ findings in a similar study published that year.
They are migrating to the new wireless devices to help them manage their data flow, connect with colleagues and improve patient care. It also allows them to better allocate their time, as they no longer have to check various avenues of communication – voice mails, email, SMS messages, text, etc – but can have it all delivered in one place. This means less opportunity for critical patient data too fall through the cracks, generating better, more efficient care.
For us, the possible recipient of this improved physician performance, this is great news. But for the IT and finance departments at your local healthcare clinic or hospital, it means one more line item in the budget to manage. And a pile of wireless devices and data plans to juggle. All of which costs money, often more money than it should…
This is where efficient telecom expense control, wireless device management, and employee wireless policy solutions become critical. Implementing a telecom expense management (TEM) software platform to organize and audit those telecom costs can save up to 30% of annual wireless telecom budgets, freeing that money up to pay for other things. Like healthcare!
A recent issue of The Economist, the venerable British business publication, discussed the advancing threats from cyberwarfare. As if IT people don’t have enough to worry about, it had some interesting statistics about infected computers out there on the international grid. Even here at home, with our higher security standards, millions of US machines are infected with something, creating mass sleeper botnets. Botnets that nasties from overseas can use to unleash chaos on our power grids, financial databases and just about anything we rely on that’s delivered via the internet.
Here’s an interesting image that shows the distribution of infected machines. (see the whole earth map image in the article, I just included US & Europe)
As the article says “The internet was designed for convenience and reliability, not security. Yet in wiring together the globe, it has merged the garden and the wilderness. No passport is required in cyberspace. And although police are constrained by national borders, criminals roam free… Enemy states are no longer on the other side of the ocean, but just behind the firewall. The ill-intentioned can mask their identity and location, impersonate others and con their way into the buildings that hold the digitised wealth of the electronic age: money, personal data and intellectual property.”
Most of this digital mayhem is wrought through malware. Lots and lots of malware. Something you need to keep OFF your employees computers, wireless and mobile devices, part of which means having a good wireless policy and a mobile management plan in place. Malware can infect a smartphone almost as easily as a dekstop PC. Here’s an alarming graph of the growth of malware…
I think it’s an interesting discussion, because we all know that one of IT’s main concerns has always been security. (and if it’s not, it should be) And I feel that the services we deliver play a part in that. By implementing strong telecom expense control, it frees up IT resources for other areas, like security and business continuity. A solid telecom inventory management solution also helps keep track of everything you have, so you can identify unused or underused machines and phones, removing them from your hardware pool before they become a problem. And if you’re not really sure whether you have a “tight ship” or not, maybe you need to reach out for some help. A telecom audit can usually identify 30% savings or more in your annual telecom budget. Renegotiate some contracts, get a good handle on your inventory, and then you’ll really know what you have to secure.
To read the rest of the Economist article, click here.
In an earlier blog dated July 9, 2010 entitled “Top Pressures For Controlling Telecom Costs“, we left you with the question: “What are mid-sized organizations doing about controlling telecom expenses?” Well here is the answer:
Not enough. Most mid-sized organizations have not deployed either internal or external telecom expense management (TEM) programs, usually because they do not have the trained staff to do it. Also, according to AOTMP, “there is a common perception of greater effort and cost than financial gain” causing “small and medium size businesses (SMB) to shy away from implementing a TEM program.” So there is a disconnect between need and solution. In trying to drive home the point, AOTMP further reports that, “the keys to a productive and financially beneficial TEM program are establishing an inventory of telecom services, features, configurations, charges and service providers,and maintaining invoice accuracy. Technology assists in unifying a TEM program.
This AOTMP research also reported the following top telecom priorities for SMBs.
So, what really are the TEM program keys to success for SMBs? You can find out by clicking on this link to register for Valicom’s whitepaper entitled “Can TEM SaaS Solutions Lower Your Telecom Expenses For Mid-Market Companies?” OR go to this link to register to watch the stream of the webinar sponsored by Valicom about this topic.
Have you ever wondered what the most common mid-market approach is to managing telecom expenses today?
During a recent AberdeenGroup telecom expense management webinar sponsored by Valicom on the topic of SaaS TEM Solutions for the mid-market, there was an informal poll conducted with 75 mid-market attendees around the question “What is your current approach to managing telecom expenses?” The results of the responses are shown in the graph below:
This poll indicated that the majority of attendees used an internal manual processing approach to telecom expense management. Contingency audits comprised the majority of outsourced services available to mid-market companies, and other telecom expense management solutions are virtually non-existent for medium-sized businesses.
Greater telecom expense complexities drive larger organizations to deploy homegrown applications and on-premise software; however they tend to be too complex and costly for mid-market companies. According to Hyoun Park, Research Analyst, Telecom and Unified Communications at AberdeenGroup: “AberdeenGroup research shows a large need with middle market organizations for on-demand telecom expense management solutions. This TEM technology brings the control and cost efficiencies of large enterprise expense management to mid-market corporations who have historically lacked the internal resources and expense volume to realize benefits.”
To find out more about the benefits of TEM software SaaS solutions for the mid-market, click on this link to Valicom’s whitepaper entitled “Can TEM SaaS Solutions Lower Telecom Expenses For Mid-Market Companies?” OR go download a streaming video of the telecom expense management webinar sponsored by Valicom about this topic.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to talk with quite a few companies and their executives regarding their views on telecom expense management (TEM). Some have had previous experience with a TEM provider and others have not. The companies that have had previous experience communicated the following concerns:
- The engagement was purely Contingency. This is a model where the company does not spend any money up-front. Instead, the TEM provider receives a percentage of the savings obtained.
- The Contingency approach can cause animosity between the company and the TEM provider. Sometimes large savings are discovered and there can be disagreements regarding who found the savings opportunity.
- TEM providers have not produced the expected results.
- The costs are too expensive.
- The software or tool is too complicated and require dedicated staff to stay current.
- Too many times vendors try to take a “one- size-fits-all” approach.
The challenge for companies that have had a bad past experience with telecom expense management, is to pursue an offering that can overcome the hurdles from the past and create a scope of work that will lead to a successful relationship for telecom expense control.
Understanding the specific pain-points within the company, as it relates to telecom cost reduction, is still the key to the initial steps in a successful expense reduction analysis.
Please consider reaching out to a representative at Valicom for a “Clearview” of your company’s telecom expense.
As with so many industries, the TEM industry has fallen victim to overstated claims and bloated features. Over the past 10 years, as more and more TEM startups have formed, the need to differentiate has become ever more important.
However, while so much has changed in the ways that telecommunications expense management firms market their services and products, the core goals behind the industry have largely remained the same: lower telecommunications expenses.
Considering this, while reviewing a particular TEM’s long list of feature’s and benefits, it’s important to continually ask yourself which items actually lend a direct advantage to realizing the greatest reduction in cost, as quickly as possible.
Once you’ve narrowed that list down – the only question left to answer are more traditional. What kind of culture does this company have? What are the company’s values? Does the company have a clear vision that drives the core goals?
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the bells and whistles – most of which probably won’t change your bottom line all that much. And in all of that distraction, it’s easy to forget to evaluate some of the more low-level, core aspects to the TEM you are considering selecting.
Porsche just announced the possible release of a new hybrid model. A $630K hybrid! Now I’m all for going green, but that seems a little ridiculous. If all you’re doing is driving to the mailbox and back, you don’t need a ride like that.
It made me think of some firms and the way they approach managing their telecom expenses. If you’re a small to mid-sized business, and are drowning in paper invoices and trying to juggle too many wireless phones and data circuits, you do need some help. But really, how much help do you need?
Many TEM firms out there take a kind of “one size fits all” approach. One size that fits great if you’re a huge firm, or have lots of money to spend. If you just want a streamlined, fast way to get a handle on your telecom expenses, you need a tool, but you don’t need a diamond-crusted one. In some cases, a hammer is really just a hammer. And we’ve got that hammer…
Our Clearview telecom expense management software tool is designed to get you the functionality you need, at a price point that doesn’t make your hair stand on end. Track all your telecom devices, have all your telecom invoices imported electronically, manage your orders and changes, store your contracts…. it’s all there. But it sure won’t cost you $640K. If you’d like to take it for a test drive, try our short online Clearview TEM software demo. That won’t cost you anything at all!
It’s all perspective, isn’t it? I mowed the lawn once last summer. I did a really bang-up job, too, if I don’t say so myself. Before I started, I canvassed the yard and picked up all the sticks. Then, I made sure I made nice straight lines in the mowing lanes and even sprayed off the mower when I was finished. I was quite proud of my work and then started in with the weed-whacking. Man, was I ever in for an education.
My husband came home, took one look at the yard and thanked me in advance for never mowing again. I hadn’t made sure I made diagonal swipes, the lines weren’t sharp enough, and *GASP*, I hadn’t collected all the left-overs from our dogs prior to mowing. There were other offenses, but I tuned them out – happy to stick with my weeding and whacking because that’s what I’m most comfortable with anyway. I have no problem with leaving the mowing to the resident expert.
Now, maybe you’re like me with regard to your telecom expense analysis. Maybe you have the general hang of your telecom project, but you too are blissfully happy taking care of the weeding and whacking of the minor telecom expense reduction - but don’t have the resident expert to oversee the whole job. You would never dream of *only* weeding or only *only* mowing your whole yard, so why would you settle for only analyzing a portion of your telecom spend? We all know the devil is in the details, which brings me to my point.
I really DO believe my husband does a far superior job with regard to lawn care…. and HE believes he does a great job – but enter my Father-in-Law whom said the turf looked nice, but that he takes the time to put on rubber gloves and go through the crab grass blade by blade and rubs on weed killer. Wow, that made him the crowned king of resident experts. And here we thought we were doing such a great job. Are you?
During a recent webinar, sponsored by Valicom, featuring AberdeenGroup research on the topic of SaaS TEM solutions for the mid-market, there was an informal poll conducted with 75 mid-market attendees responding to the question: “What are the top pressures your company is facing to control telecom costs?” The results are shown in the graph below:
As you can see, the majority of companies (72%) responded that organizational pressure to reduce operational (including telecom) costs, was the business driver to control telecom expenses. So the business need is there, but what are they doing about it?
Find out what they are doing about it by clicking on this link to Valicom’s whitepaper entitled “Can TEM SaaS Solutions Lower Telecom Expenses For Mid-Market Companies?” OR go to this link to download a streaming video of the webinar sponsored by Valicom about this topic.