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January 2007
Volume 10 / Number 1

Billing and OSS - the Last Barrier to VoIP and IMS

By Richard “Zippy” Grigonis: ( Page 1 || Page 2 || Page 3 || Page 4 || Page 5 || Page 6 || Page 7 )

The Hidden World of Telecom Expense Management

One area that subtly relates to OSS and BSS is TEM, or Telecom Expense Management. Quickcomm ( is a major provider of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) software solutions worldwide. Founded in Australia in 1997 by telecom industry veterans, Quickcomm pioneered technology that gives clients visibility into their telecom spend, but actionable insight into their telecom provisioning.

Quickcomm’s Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Evans, says, “I personally believe that the term Telecom Expense Management is something of a misnomer. The products that we sell and the service that the industry offers is more about the total lifecycle of telecommunications. That’s not just billing. It’s about being able to maintain your inventory, for example. To encapsulate what TEM does into a single sentence, is this: It’s about giving you the ability to ‘look in the mirror’. What have I got? Where’s all my money in this company going? How much of it is wireless? How much is fixed voice? How much is data? It’s not only split into those broad categories, but it’s also about how much has been spent by my development department, and how much is this office costing, how much is the Europe office costing, and so forth. In order to be able to get that dataset and have the tools to be able to examine it in a sort of dashboard, as it were, you really need to understand your inventory before you start looking at the bills. What have I got? What does my data network look like? Where do I have all of these lines? Who’s got all of the cell phones and how much of the revenue is coming in from expense accounts and employees putting in expenses for cells and how much is the corporate phone plan?”

“When we go to our customers who are primarily the blue chips, the Fortune 500,” says Evans, “we explain to them that we’re actually going to touch the infrastructure part of their organization, plus the procurement side of it, so we appreciate if they need to understand what they’ve got in their organization, and the need to be able to track ‘adds, moves and changes’ every time something is cancelled or added. Another part of the puzzle is that the company now knows what they’ve got and they know that the information is accurate — such as ordering 100 lines yesterday and updating the inventory as such — but do the bills now match what they have? If you can bring all of these elements together, and tie them all together into a single system, then what you have is the ability to accurately ‘slice and dice’ your expenditure. So for our clients, typically their expenditures exceed $50 million. If they don’t have a good grasp of where all that money’s going before they come to see us, then they really can’t accurately consider a migration to what the industry calls convergence.”

Evans adds, “If you look down the path to a world where we have complete IP conversions for data, for voice and for wireless, and everything is based on just buying different types of IP packets, then, in order to get from where we are now to that point, you need to understand how your money is being spent right now. Any proposition by an IP telephony provider to replace what you’ve got requires that you understand what you have to start with, before any such proposition can be meaningful.”

“So, we believe that, regardless of whether the customer is buying IP packets in one shape or another in the future, or whether they’re buying conventional telephony now, they still need to monitor where everything is going,” says Evans. “In a simple example, you might have a large corporation with a big Internet gateway and it’s costing them a million dollars a month in IP packets. In order to understand what those IP packets are being used for, you need to track them back to the end users. Certain users are using certain packets. That has a strong parallel to conventional telephony, as in — this telephone belongs to this person, he’s in this department, he placed these many long distance calls, local calls, and so forth.”

“We see the value of what we do in two parts,” says Evans. “First, it’s assisting in the migration to a converged world that we’ll see in 2010 or 2012. Secondly, once we get there, it’s important to have the ability to ‘consolidate’ these huge IP bills that you’re going to receive and understand what the various corporate departments have been doing. You can then decide whether you really need to spend money in certain ways for packets. Perhaps you’ll discover that you’re wasting some, and whether you can do things better / faster / slicker with another technology.”

“So TEM is not just about expenses and billing,” says Evans. “It’s about having the ability to understand what your telecommunications infrastructure is doing, and being able to ask yourself, ‘do I have the network that reflects my needs or do I have wastage?’.”

The immense world of OSS and BSS is slowly adjusting to the challenges posed by the rise of IP Communications. Fortunately, whether it’s a service provider pondering what’s happening on the network, or an enterprise concerned about excess billing, there’s a platform or tool out there to help.

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.


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