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Enterprises Tighten Belts, Check Bills

Carol Wilson

Large enterprises want to reduce their telecom expenses in 2010, and they will be pushing their communications service providers to make billing more accurate and transparent, according to a survey by Telesoft Corp. , a provider of telecom expense management software and services.

Telesoft asked the CIOs and CFOs of its large enterprise customers to name their priorities for 2010, and three major issues emerged, says Kevin Donoghue, Telesoft president: improving inventory and service order activity management; increasing audit capabilities; and creating greater control over mobility costs.

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they expected to cut telecom expenditures in 2010, while only 16 percent plan to spend more.

At the same time, businesses want to make more productive use of telecom technology, says Donoghue. The cost control focus will be on making sure they're actually getting the services for which they're paying.

The result is likely be more pressure on fixed and mobile service providers to tighten their billing systems and provide bills that are more easily audited and have greater transparency for things such as per-business unit billing.

"IT continues to be an area of emphasis in trying to get their arms around their spend, insuring that they are being billed accurately, that they are paying according to their contracts, and things are happening in a timely manner on moves, adds, and changes," Donoghue says.

Telesoft has good reason to focus on those needs: The company sells software to enable enterprises to manage their telecom spending, and also provides that capability as a managed service.

At a time when many large businesses are going through changes, such as shutting down some operations or consolidating others, or even adopting new IP technology, there is greater chance for telecom service provider billing systems to fall behind in accurately tracking those changes, according to Donoghue. Any change in service is an opportunity for a billing error.

Managing mobility costs is a particularly urgent issue because of the rapid growth in use of smart phones and other mobile technology, he says.

"Organizations are starting to wake up to the fact their costs are out of control," says the Telesoft man. Their challenge is to have internal policies and enforce those policies. "They want to make sure the right person has the right kind of device and they are on a plan that enables the organization to pay the least."

Donoghue maintains that most mobile service providers don’t provide an easy way for enterprise customers to do that, which is why his organization is providing that service.

"Some have built relationships with third parties that may help them in that arena," he says. "What we are seeing from our customers is that there is a little bit of the 'fox watching the henhouse' mentality with relying on the provider for that kind of capability. An arm’s length type of arrangement is what seems like a better option."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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