1 WHITE PAPER What is TEM?
2 First Things First What is TEM? For those unfamiliar with the term, TEM stands for telecom expense management. Essentially, it means managing your wireless, voice, and data environment with the goals of reducing risk and cost. This is a process you can do yourself, or you can partner with a TEM firm to do some or all of it for you. But how did TEM arise in the beginning? Where We Came From - Old School TEM As with any story, it s best to start at the beginning. So where did telecom expense management (TEM) come from in the first place? Not surprisingly to anyone in the industry, the watershed moment was the breakup of Ma Bell (AT&T) in the 1980s. Prior to that, with only one flavor of telecom provider to choose from, things weren t very complicated. But as competition kicked in, more options meant more room for flexibility and error. This drove the development of telecom expense management to bring visibility and control costs. It started at the enterprise level. Big companies were looking for big savings by taking advantage of the new situation. But understanding the options, and being knowledgeable enough to weigh the choices, wasn t a skill set most internal managers had. Thus an entire new line of consulting sprang up to meet the need. Services like RFP development and contract negotiation, invoice auditing of the more complex billing environment, procurement and management of telephone inventories all came together into Telecom Lifecycle Management. And, in the early days at least, it was almost always fully outsourced. Here, you take this, figure it out, and hopefully save us some money in the process. Then as cellular phones came on board in the 90s, and data management in the 2000s, the need for telecom expense management firms only expanded. Those firms, in turn, realized they needed a more robust way to deal with all the data they were managing, and software development began in earnest. Platforms were developed to store and cross reference information, while also automating as many tasks as possible. These original offerings were either used by the TEM firm directly to manage outsourced services, or hosted internally at the end user client, often at great expense and requiring a lot of VALICOM Telecom on Your Terms Page
3 care and feeding from IT. This meant that solutions were pricey, hard to maintain, and overengineered for anything other than a very large firm. So from those early days, how far have we come, and where we are now...? Where We Are TEM in 2014 To stay on the software topic, the most noticeable change from then to now is that those telecom management tools as with everything else it seems are moving to the cloud. TEM firms, their clients, partners, and consultants want the flexibility to manage environments and work collaboratively with each other via the web. And end user IT staff doesn t want to manage software in house anymore. By delivering it securely online, both groups are happy. Streamlining the software, and eliminating the need for in-house technical staff to support it, also positions TEM firms to meet another growing need in today s marketplace the demand for TEM in the middle market. Complexity of telecom and wireless is growing for everyone not just in enterprise. Mid-sized firms are discovering the visibility and savings to be had by implementing a telecom management program. TEM is no longer just for the Big Boys. With this inclusion of the mid-market, along with enterprise, at the table for TEM services, something else is happening. The fully outsourced model, the platinum meal plan, is being replaced with a buffet. TEM providers are pairing select managed services with web-based subscription software, creating new flexible, affordable hybrid solutions. End users can access just what they need, when they need it, controlling cost while still allowing for adaptation over time as their environments change. Another accelerating trend is the takeover of telecom by IT. As wireless, voice and data continue to bleed together, further driven by the rise of tablet computing, the lines blur on who should manage it. Administrators are also dealing with much more complex issues than a few years ago. Corporate vs. employee liable decisions, mobile device risk mitigation, managed applications growth, and device recycling needs, just to name a few. VALICOM Telecom on Your Terms Page
4 And as BYOD (bring your own device) adoption spreads, security and privacy issues are coming to the forefront, along with questions about how well BYOD saves money. If it does at all So where does that lead us? Where We re Going The TEM of Tomorrow Trend 1: BYOD Boom or Bust? BYOD has been the top industry buzzword for a few years now, but as adoption has spread, questions are arising as to how well this really helps manage wireless expenses. Some research, done by the Telecom Expense Management Industry Association (TEMIA) fall of 2013, stated that only 6% of firms who implemented BYOD showed a savings. 25% showed no impact to costs, and 44% had costs go up. But most telling, 25% of them couldn t tell if it helped with costs or not! This showcases a common industry blind spot. Many firms just don t have a good enough grasp of their current telecom environment to be able to determine if BYOD does them any good. It always comes back to You can t manage what you can t measure. If you don t know where you are now, how do you decide where to go? The other side effect of BYOD is an emerging range of secondary issues that come along with it. Security concerns like complying with Sarbanes-Oxley, or HIPAA, and forecasting the ramifications of a breach. Legal problems like the theft of clients personal data or corporate intellectual property. What about inadvertent discovery of an employee s illegal activities? What liability does that create for your firm? Add to that the ever present fear of noncompliance. How will you track if employees follow the rules? And what do you do if they don t? Trend 2: The Privacy War Some of those sticky BYOD issues revolve around privacy. The need for tight business security puts demands on employees, demands they may see as a breach of their privacy rights. This sets up an antagonistic relationship of Employer vs Employee which can lead to a withering of trust. For example, mobile devices can run apps that track usage as well as location when is that necessary, and is it legal? VALICOM Telecom on Your Terms Page
5 Either way, employees probably won t like someone knowing where they are every second of every day. This can lead staff to actively thwart security measures designed to protect the firm s interest. Or policies can be rendered ineffective by sloppy personal habits, as shown by the fact that and qwerty are still top passwords. The growing hope is that biometrics can bridge the gap by providing strong security measures that are easy to use and less annoying to the employee. Gartner predicts at least 30 percent of organizations will soon use biometric tech to secure devices connecting to their network. Trend 3: The Carrier Wars Mobile carriers taking pot shots at each other have filled industry news lately. Saturation in mobile means shrinking margins. So vendors, both to gain market share and to differentiate themselves in a rapidly commoditizing area, have resorted to stealing clients from each other. Whether it is eliminating long hated items like roaming charges, or offering to pay early termination fees, they are getting more and more aggressive. Time will tell how these tactics impact business telecom, but we are sure that they will. Just as unlimited data plans gave way to pooled plans, the market will continue to shift and evolve, hopefully for the better. Trend 4: The Wave of Wearables The technology world is seeing a massive explosion of wearable new toys, all wirelessly connected. Smartwatches and Google Glasses are just the tip of the iceberg. The impact to business won t so much be hardware costs, we don t anticipate a BYOFB (Bring Your own FitBit) trend, but it does demand scrutiny in the security and policy department. These devices are consumer oriented and often pack heavy computing power in a very small package. What capability do they have to take photos, copy or transmit data, or deliver malware to your network? Before you let them in the door, you need a policy in place to control use, manage connectivity and assess the possibility of fraud and damage. Trend 5: Bring on the Phablets If you haven t heard, Phone + Tablet = Phablet. Barclays projects sales of phablets rising from 27 million in 2012 to 230 million in This just means the range of devices your IT staff have to secure and support is set to expand. Again. As with the entire history of telecommunications, more devices means more risk. As employees have more options to choose from, it increases the burden on you to stay one step ahead of them. VALICOM Telecom on Your Terms Page
6 Trend 6: Skynet is Here Smart machines and M2M (machine to machine) traffic have been around for a while, but they are rapidly becoming ubiquitous. More and more devices are designed to collect, process and transmit data. Whether it is medical equipment or RFID tags on shipping containers, they need to be inventoried, secured, managed and expensed. The catchphrase The Internet of Everything captures this well. Everything, everywhere, is set to be connected. Now it becomes your problem to determine what the ramifications of that are, and how it impacts your policies, processes and costs. So What Can you Do? With all these trends coming at lightning speed, what is a telecom and IT manager to do? The best advice is to get your house in order. Get a handle on your inventory, audit each and every invoice that comes in the door, optimize your wireless, and watch your contracts not only to ensure pricing is accurate, but to have time to renegotiate before they expire. Take time to really understand your process and your environment, and learn to be proactive, versus reactive. Then take advantage of all that data to make better business decisions faster. Discover how TEM Services + Clearview TEM software saves you money. Request a free demo and discussion today Online at or Call x619 ABOUT VALICOM: Valicom is a Madison, WI based telecom expense management firm founded in 1991 as a certified, 100% woman-owned business (WBE). Valicom offers Clearview, a web-based telecom expense management software and a full a la carte suite of telecom cost control services including telecom audits, telecom invoice processing and payment, wireless optimization, RFP services and telecom contract negotiation. VALICOM Telecom on Your Terms Page