By Larry Foster
My entire career has been in the technology industry. I started out teaching electrical engineering classes and labs at Southern Illinois University back in the 1980s. I moved over to run several of the university’s IT services and entire telecommunications business unit.
During my tenure, some very clever technology students hacked the telecommunication system resulting in unforeseen telecommunication bills totaling a few million dollars. At the time, we didn’t have the insight to accurately identify who had committed which criminal act. Internally, we had to do manual data dumps to identify usage transactions that shared the same route ID and timeframe with a variable that identified the originating phone number. All of these transactions were dated so solving these issues in a timely matter was of the essence because students graduate and move on. After a lot of manpower, internal stress, and reasonably complex programming, we were finally able to get the much needed details.
Thus began my passion for innovating intuitive solutions that would prevent other organizations from repeating this horrible financial experience. I knew we had to change the paradigm. Part of this solution meant facilitating real-time access to the detailed information organizations needed to properly manage their network capacity, availability, security, and fiduciary responsibilities.
However, three decades later, the reality is that even with providing this data, there still exists a fundamental issue.
There’s a level of complexity with calculating the different variables/rates which aren’t clearly outlined on the bill. Telecommunication Managers often discover the impact of changes only after they’ve been calculated into their invoice charges. Furthermore, going back to what I said in my first blog, solution providers don’t necessarily help the situation by just having the “business as usual” mindframe. Telecommunication Expense Management (TEM) and Mobility Management Service (MMS) solution providers that focus only on initial clean-up activities are not addressing the shift that needs to occur to give organizations the upper hand required to negotiate and procure.
Many of the leading TEM and MMS solution providers and a few carriers belong to an international industry organization that I helped start with many of my competitive executive colleagues back in 2006 – TEMIA (Technology Expense Management Industry Association). This industry represents the management of at least 70% of the telecommunication services consumed by businesses and government agencies.
The collective influence of many industry professionals coming together provides a new opportunity to finally bring much needed fundamental changes in the telecommunication billing industry. These changes address the spectrum from how charges are represented to eliminating the cost and delay associated with receiving detailed insight into the invoice charges.
I will outline these changes in part 3 of this blog series and give readers the knowledge to articulate these requirements to their respective solution providers and carriers.