An interview with Tim Salik, Expense Reduction Analysts’ Telecommunication's specialist. Tim has indicated that major developments are expected in the telecommunications area in the next five years and that organisations should be prepared for the change.
Tim is an experienced professional based in Perth with 17 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry. Tim leverages advisory skills developed from understanding the telecommunications industry and its offerings to source the optimal supply arrangements for his clients’ needs.
What would you say are the biggest risks for organisations in the telecommunications arena at present?
I believe that companies are complacent when it comes to assessing the competence of their telco account managers that are assigned by networks to provide support & advise. Account managers generally have about 100- 150 clients, all of whom are very different, and it would be naïve to expect that they are devoted to any one account.
Most telco companies expect their account managers to maintain & increase the revenue from their clients, not to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. They will personalise their service to their clients and keep billing on an even keel wherever possible. IT managers should be ensuring they are not lulled into buying the newest products which are the flavour of the month if they are not a good fit for their needs.
Organisations need to ensure that anyone handling their telco accounts has KPIs to reduce costs & introduce efficiencies that match the company’s future growth strategies. The danger of not auditing the work of the Account Manager that is assigned to the networks is too expensive.
What do you mean by “decluttering your telco plan”?
Organisations should constantly be
- reviewing their needs and usage in International calling costs
- reviewing their needs and usage in handset/hardware costs
- reviewing their needs and usage in data consumption & charges
- reviewing their 3-5-years plan and the integration of telecommunications in the organisational plan
- reviewing current products & their suitability for the organisation’s primary goals
Network assigned account managers have entirely different goals given to them as compared to what the client’s business objectives are.
Expense Reduction Analysts can advise on structure and inclusions, and advise on the current products on an ongoing basis which will be the best fit and which will reduce costs & maintain/improve operational efficiencies.
Expense Reduction Analysts can also do an audit to review historical pricing. In the past, we have found frequent instances of incorrect billing which we have recovered for our clients. We would also review the presence of unused products/lines which are still attracting charges.
Where do you see the biggest risks for the organisation regarding their telecommunication?
- Billing errors such as incorrect call rates and overcharges
- Being on outdated plans because they are locked in contracts
- Misuse of hardware – do users need sophisticated phones like iPhones or would a simple handset do the job?
- International roaming – managing the cost of overseas calls
- Unused services for which companies continue to pay monthly charges
- A very nice telco account manager is a risk too – as his KPI’s are entirely opposite to most of the business goals of different organisations.
Where are the opportunities for companies to reduce their costs?
I would suggest companies review their technology and costs with the help of an independent advisor such as ERA.
Where complacency is the enemy of cost reduction, being proactive is the best weapon in the fight against rising costs.
Challenge the telco account manager to help you achieve best practice and lower costs! All networks have cheap plans – do some research to see if any would be appropriate for your business.
ERA can help uncover the hidden / not- advertised rate plans.
What do you see happening in the telecommunications industry over the next five years?
The key areas which are developing rapidly, are data and the convergence of voice, along with value-added services in the shape of AI enhanced apps. Naturally, NBN is the hot topic at the moment, but with 5G also coming online, it is essential for companies to ensure that they optimise their usage and align the products to their organisational plan – the cost difference, flexibility and efficiencies will be massive.
Companies should be using experts to work with them in preparing for future technologies because they are across new developments. We believe that data is the infrastructure of the future. An example is how the IOT (Internet of Things) will affect all of us.
What is the IOT?
IOT is The Internet of Things. Currently, there are approximately 1.5 sim cards per person in Australia. In the future, there will be about 5-7 sim cards per person.
Sim cards will be in everything we use such as commercial refrigeration, washing machines, fridges, security cameras and motor vehicles etc. etc. They will all run through data networks and will be integral in our lives at a domestic level.
In the commercial arena, the relevance is enormous – sim cards will be in air-conditioning, refrigeration, security units telling maintenance staff when a service is needed or a breakdown has occurred. Devices such as these will reduce the numbers of staff is necessary for maintenance; reduce the numbers of machinery operators and staff who would currently be monitoring situation which would become automated – on top of this it will massively improve the response times.
What are other innovations coming our way?
Wi-fi calling is the next big thing which is going to transform our communications and reduce the revenue of all networks. This will create a need for networks to increase their revenue in other ways and we foresee that many providers such as Skype and WhatsApp, which currently use this technology, will be bought out by the big telco companies.
Wi-fi calling will enable calls to be made even when operators are in an area where there is no mobile coverage. So, if you have wi-fi, your phone will work as normal wherever you are, through data channels which will travel through towers which will have been converted to data towers.
Where voice converges with the mobile data network, data will be used instead of voice channels. In the future, there will be a single portal through the phone for management, maintenance & provisioning – no need to call customer service and be in the queue.
This may sound complicated, and this is one of the reasons we recommend using a specialist like ERA to navigate new technology and reduce costs at the same time improving efficiencies.
Satellite phones are another area under development. In the future – and in fact, the technology is available now although few people are aware of it – you will use your iPhone/Android connected to a smart Satellite device similar to a power bank, which plugs into the phone as a satellite sleeve. This is much cheaper & flexible than the current satellite phones which are not only expensive but also very heavy and bulky. The new technology will connect via Bluetooth and will be able to make and receive calls in remote areas.
We help clients to support the health and growth of their business, whatever its nature, focusing on proactive expense and supplier management. As an Australian and global company, Expense Reduction Analysts can benchmark costs and spending, follow the latest supplier innovations, and have real-time data on changes and advancements. This strength gives Expense Reduction Analysts the recognition and power needed on supplier markets to best serve your interests.