In an era where the enterprise is placing its productivity bets on SaaS applications and the network technologies to support them, such as SD-WAN, which boasts 2x-and-greater performance increases at 40% less cost than traditional WANs, why am I bringing up “telecom expense management” (TEM), a decidedly legacy category from the early 2000s?
Part of me would rather not.
At Sakon, we’ve excelled at solving the TEM challenges of the Fortune 500 for more than a decade and have a roster of top-tier enterprise customers and technology partners to prove it. Part of me would like to say “problem solved,” because we’ve perfected TEM with a combination of software and services excellence that always produces great results: 7- and 8-figure cost savings, the visibility to really manage the telecom estate, and the dexterity and breadth of capabilities, anchored by an inventory-centric approach, to treat all of IT – from wireline circuits to mobile devices and the cloud – as a single estate that can be elegantly visualized, managed, and optimized.
But like Michael Corleone said in The Godfather: Part III, “Just when I thought I was out, they keep pulling me back in.”
That’s because for the bulk of the Fortune 500, the problem hasn’t been solved. We see it every day in the stack of TEM RFPs they are issuing as they look to clean up the mess left behind by their prior TEM vendors, each of whom went into this business thinking the problem they had to solve was validating invoices and paying bills.
Unfortunately, the Fortune 500 has had to find out the hard way that great TEM starts with mastering inventory. Bill presentment, validation and payment are all useful TEM features. But “features” don’t deliver TEM mastery unless they are built upon the rock of real-time global inventory, and that’s where the bulk of the TEM providers fall flat.
We experienced this firsthand recently with a Fortune 500 healthcare network. After two years of waiting for its prior TEM provider to deliver on its promises, the customer, which had grown through acquiring other hospital groups, had to admit it had no visibility into the circuits of each of its hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices, and was losing the trust of its organization to apportion communications costs fairly and accurately. The company was also wasting a lot of money in the process.
Once the old TEM provider was out, it took our partner and us a matter of months to fix the problem, delivering $3 million in telecom expense savings (paying the right amount for contracted services, not paying for services no longer in use, etc.) and a command over inventory that enabled the healthcare provider to renegotiate its key carrier contract, saving them over $10 million.
I bring this up, because Sakon has solved the TEM problem. We’ve done it over and over again. And we’ve done the same for mobility and managed mobility services, just as we are now doing for SaaS applications and network transformation.
That’s because each of these pieces are part and parcel of the same problem, not siloed challenges requiring niche solutions (in fact, solving each separately with different systems introduces more complexity). Put another way, once you truly master inventory, you hold the key to managing IT cost and lifecycle management in its $1+ trillion entirety, from wireline to mobility to SaaS.
And that includes TEM. The RFPs speak for themselves: The Fortune 500 is demanding a “do over.”
In this renewed interest in, and, frankly, urgency over TEM, we see a watershed opportunity to get TEM right once and for all for everyone, putting enterprise customers on the fast track to knowing their networks and, ultimately, transforming them.
To help you put your best foot forward, let me share a few tips and reminders with you:
- Great TEM hinges on mastering network and end-user inventory. Don’t settle for any TEM solution that doesn’t deliver 20:20 inventory visibility and an easy way to maintain it as your company grows and changes. Invoice and payment technology divorced from inventory accuracy is a road to ruin. See how this customer got it right.
- Solving TEM isn’t just about software – services are key. It’s not a sexy story, but getting TEM right requires a lot of in-depth industry knowledge, elbow grease, and customer service. When evaluating providers, yes, look closely at the software (and if it looks like it came from 2004, it probably did – move on!) but also ask about their implementation services and methodology and confirm their claims with multiple customer references. (See what AOTMP says about TEM services in this whitepaper.)
- Saving money is a great benefit, but not the final destination. Great TEM will save you a lot of money, a self-funding mechanism for honing and transforming your network. But making the communications estate work optimally is ultimately about making people more productive. That’s why you have the technology in the first place. When you get the most from it, your company can innovate and gain competitive advantage.
So, go ahead and fix your TEM. But don’t be surprised if the benefits extend beyond the abbreviation.