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Telecom Cost Management Featured Article

November 03, 2009

Telecom Cost Management to Remain Priority as Economy Stabilizes

By Erin Harrison, Senior Editor

Since the economic downturn of last year, logic has dictated that companies pay more attention to their spending habits and reduce costs wherever possible. But with signs of recovery and economists predicting a brighter financial future in 2010, will telecom cost management remain a priority for companies as they bring themselves out of the doldrums? 

That is the question worth pondering as telecom expense management experts evaluate the need for their services.
“I think this trend will continue in an economic upturn, too, but for additional reasons.  In the current downtown, companies are looking to TEM companies like Tellennium to find cost savings in existing telecom budgets,” said Russ Maney (News - Alert), principal and co-founder of Xponential Group, a Louisville, Ky.-based technology procurement services company that represents Tellennium. “Even in an upturn, their appetite for such savings won’t diminish. If it wasn’t before, this severe economic slump has made a focus on cost savings and efficiencies ‘the new normal.’”   
But, when the economy starts to really grow again, enterprises are going to try to grow right along with it, he added. This means mergers, acquisitions and physical expansions of existing facilities or via opening new locations. 
“This will, in turn, further increase telecommunications complexity and generate still more telecom bills from more providers,” Maney said. “This will then increase the demand for TEM providers to help keep these newly growing companies’ telecom spending in control. And, TEM companies that also offer telecom consulting, like Tellennium, will find that the demand for their telecom advice will grow, too, as their client companies seek to grow.”
Maney said be believes that telecom cost management will also “curb the chaos” of enterprise mobile phone service spending.
“Mobile telecommunications is the fastest growing segment of enterprise telecom spending.  And, it’s not just for cell minutes anymore. Mobile workers are increasingly turning to smartphones as mobile email, Web browsing and even laptop replacement work platforms. And, more workers are working without a company office altogether, instead working from their homes, on the road, and at client or customer locations,” he said.
This means other “mobility enabling” telecommunications spending is also on the rise, including private or VPN broadband connections to workers’ homes, wireless Internet access cards for portable PCs and other devices, and an ever-increasing ecosystem of new mobile devices beyond cell phones and smart phones. 
“Therefore, more mobile telecommunications chaos from many different directions. Seeing these costs rise faster than all other telecommunications has gotten enterprises’ attention,” Maney added. “This has them turning to TEM companies like Tellennium with ever-increasing frequency.”
Out of many possible criteria, Maney recommends three key areas for enterprises to consider as they evaluate TEM suppliers:
1.      Current client satisfaction.  More than any other measure, research has shown that the only question that really matters in customer satisfaction surveys is:  Would you recommend this product or service to others (see Fred Reichheld’s book “The Ultimate Question”). 
“There is simply no better way to predict if you will be satisfied with a TEM provider’s services than whether or not companies similar to yours are already satisfied with them,” Maney said.
2.      Breadth of offerings. Many TEM suppliers come in, do an audit, find some savings and leave, Maney said.  While that might be helpful, as businesses change, telecom billing errors, inefficiencies and unnecessary purchases have a way of creeping back in. 
“The best TEM providers offer ongoing, continuous telecom invoice processing and auditing services.  The continuous auditing keeps telecom inefficiencies to a minimum. And, the invoice processing removes the burden of tedious, administrative tasks from whoever is in charge of telecom spending (often beleaguered and overworked accounting clerks or even – gasp – IT staffs themselves),” Maney said.
The best TEM providers don’t just look at what telecom products and services a company is currently buying and then simply try to make those purchases more efficient and error-free. The best also consult with their clients on what they should be buying and on making their clients’ entire telecom infrastructures more efficient and effective, he added.
3.      Client fit.  TEM services providers run the gamut of different sizes, just like their clients do.  Some specialize in small companies, others only serve very large enterprises. 
“It is important that you match your needs to your TEM supplier’s capabilities and client size comfort zone,” Maney said. 
For example, Tellennium specializes in mid-size enterprises with total monthly telecom expenditures exceeding $25,000 per month enterprise-wide. “This is too large of a customer for many small TEM providers. But, companies of this significant size can, surprisingly, still be considered small in the eyes of the very largest TEM providers,” he said. “You need to find a company that is capable of expertly and easily handling your needs, but one that will also value your company as a client.”

Erin Harrison is a senior editor with TMCnet, primarily covering telecom expense management, politics and technology and Web 2.0. She serves as senior editor for TMC's (News - Alert) print publications, including "Internet Telephony", "Customer Interaction Solutions", "Unified Communications" and "NGN" magazines. Erin also oversees production of TMCnet's weekly iPhone (News - Alert) e-Newsletter. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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