The telecom industry has fared better than some others (think airlines) in weathering the economic turbulence caused by the COVID 19 pandemic. On the other hand, it’s only prudent to assume that, in the short-term, top-line revenue growth for most companies is going to be a little harder. That means that everyone is going to look for ways to reduce costs to maintain profitability. All enterprises say they want to keep telecom costs and expenses as low as possible. Our experience is that many firms take the logical first step of one-time or periodic cost-cutting projects or audits. While those projects are beneficial, enterprises also need something more systematic. Knowing enterprises are more focused than ever on cost management and remaining profitable, how can channel partners and consultants address these concerns and become a more value-added partner to their customers? One way is using what we call the “continuous telecom audit”.
Continuous Telecom Audit As Best Practice
A respected CFO we worked with always stated: “He with the lowest cost wins.” Notice, he did not say “lowest price.” The two are very different. Continually looking for ways to sustainably lower costs, eliminate waste and making processes more efficient is not a blind race to be “cheapest.” Toyota, Intel, and Nike are excellent non-telecom industry examples. None are “low price” providers — but all of them embrace systematic cost reduction and have enjoyed above-average profit margins in their respective industries. Lower costs provide flexibility. It not only gives companies the ability to be more price-competitive, it also frees up resources to make strategic investments in marketing, sales, and product that higher cost competitors can’t.
When it comes to telecommunications, we see a lot of good telecom audit work. And very large enterprises have embraced telecom expense management. What we would like to see more of – now that the solutions and tools exist – are small and medium-sized enterprises making on-going, continuous telecom cost management part of their culture and standard processes.
The Pain of “Event-Driven” Telecom Audits
All too often, when it comes to telecom expenses, companies do not have a good handle on what they have, much less if the costs for this inventory are reasonable. Then — something happens. A new CFO, budget cuts, due diligence, maybe a big deal or customer that was lost to a competitor on price. An audit of telecom services, inventory and spend are started. And anyone who has been through these knows how painful these fire drills can be. A conference room is reserved, a whiteboard cleaned, and a “tiger” team is formed. Painstakingly, the “telecom audit team” sorts out if they are paying what they should, for what they have, and not paying for what they don’t have. This often involves sorting through emails, spreadsheets, invoices, and contracts – all held in different departments. And that is just to gather the data needed to do the analysis. Once the data is assembled, the audit team can answer the basic questions: “Is the price we’re paying the price we negotiated? If not, why not? Did our contract expire and there are better prices available? Are we paying for services or features we disconnected? Are we overpaying relative to the market?”
For many companies just getting that far is really hard. They rarely get to the bigger questions: “Are we making the best use of the telecom services we are buying? Could we dramatically lower our total investment by rethinking how we use telecom services?” Instead, when the audit team finds immediate cost savings, everyone breathes a sigh of relief. They celebrate…. and then go back to the habits and ways of doing things that got them into trouble in the first place. A year or two goes by, and often they are back where they started. That’s the inherent problem with “event-driven” telecom audits. They can produce short term results, but they often focus on short-term fixes instead of underlying problems that have accumulated over a period of time.
The Gain of Continuous Telecom Audits
One-time audits are a necessary and valuable first step to gaining an understanding of inventory and costs, and generating immediate savings. But for consultants and channel partners, they are only the start (and part) of the value they can provide to their enterprise customers. Once an audit is completed, there is an opportunity for consultants and channel partners to offer on-going telecom cost monitoring and audit service. If one-time telecom audits are the equivalent of your twice a year dentist checkups, then the continuous monitoring and auditing is telecom’s version of brushing and flossing your teeth. This service helps keep enterprise costs competitive and fixes small issues before they become bigger.
So why haven’t more small and medium enterprises embraces continuous telecom audits? One obstacle is that it is not as sexy as deploying cool new technology. So senior leadership needs to make it a priority and reward people for doing it. Second, telecom cost management involves a learning curve. Deciphering telecom bills is not for the faint of heart and companies will either have to train their staff or hire consultants and partners with telecom expertise. Finally, until recently, many of the solutions available were not easy to use, did not scale easily, and were difficult to roll out.
The Opportunity for Channel Partners and Consultants – Don’t Just Be A “One Hit Wonder”
Fortunately, now there are solutions that can help channel partners and consultants improve their position as “the” trusted advisor to their enterprise customers. These solutions not only help them perform a one-time audit, they also support continuous telecom cost reduction – and they help enterprises generate more savings, sooner. This creates a true 1+1 = 3 scenario!
For example, Cloud Age Solutions offers a cloud-native, easy-to-use, highly scalable telecom cost management platform, called gpxcloud, which is designed to help consultants and telecom channel partners not only perform one-time audits, but also offer continuous telecom monitoring and auditing services to enterprise customers. The cost of the software can often be a fraction of the one-time savings found in an audit, but that investment can pay dividends for years in incremental savings and a stronger customer relationship.
Furthermore, solutions such as gpxcloud are designed to offer channel partners a variety of ways to support their enterprise customers. A channel partner could use gpxcloud to provide a management dashboard to its enterprise customers to help it monitor its telecom spend in real-time. Or it could provide a managed “continuous telecom audit” solution that would include all aspects of the telecom asset lifecycle, from order to installation to moves, adds, changes and disconnects.
Conclusion: One Time Audits Are Good – Continuous Telecom Audit Is Even Better
The message is clear. In today’s rapidly changing economic environment, enterprise customers are likely to be more focused than ever before on telecom expenses. While a one-time telecom expense reduction exercise is a great way to help these businesses get started, channel partners shouldn’t overlook the long term opportunity to make telecom expense auditing as routine as brushing your teeth.