Telecomm Expense Management, Riddle me this, When is TEM not TEM?

When it’s MDM or EMM.

Several mobile device management (MDM/EMM) products have a feature that is suggestive of Telecom Expense Management (TEM) but is still far from being a significant or complete  telecom expense saving solution. MDM/EMM product features offer an limited opportunity to reduce a few specific types of mobile expenses such as “roaming” charges and unused/under used devices  While these features focus on a subset of devices they do have value. However, these features  should not be confused with a true telecom expense management system that offers a broad range of significant saving opportunities across all devices.

I don’t intend to detract the value of the isolated and limited expense features of MDM/EMM solutions, but I want to put them in the proper context of a mobile telecom expense management perspective.  In this post, I will explain the savings features of an MDM/EMM, how they differ from a TEM and why an effective TEM generates larger savings.  …

How do MDM/EMM and TEM Differ?
To start with Expense is TEM’s middle name. MDM/EMM manages devices and TEM manages expenses.

How do MDM/EMM features help manage telecom spending?
The most popular MDM/EMM expense feature is “roaming notification” or alerts.

Roaming is when you are using your wireless device in an area not covered by your home carrier but that of a “local” carrier. In agreement with your home carrier, signal coverage is provided by a local carrier at a premium cost, allowing you to continue using your device as if nothing has happened. In the Past, you’d typically, get the next  month’s bill  with some surprisingly huge charges from the network providers on which you roamed. Very little can be done after the fact to get those charges reduced.

Fortunately, today US carriers as well as other countries and regions have agreements within local boundaries, and users won’t have such surprise additional fees and is less of a concern.

Unless they travel Internationally!  With International travel, all bets are off. You exit the plane, turn on your phone and it get picked up by a foreign carrier. Before you know it, you’ve agreed to pay astronomical roaming charges. It is not unusual for a typical $100 monthly bill to become a few thousand dollars. Regular travelers can simply pay modest extra amount for an international calling plan and get a reasonable monthly rate (but much higher than a standard rate).  Depending on the carrier, sometimes you can get an international rate just for the month potentially saving thousands.

MDM/EMM’s can detect that an individual is roaming off the home network and generates a user alert so the individual can choose to continue or not. The MDM/EMM solution may also send an an alert to administrators, which may be able to assist the user in getting an international plan before incurring extra expenses.  It’s limited, but can be significant preventing a few occasions may justify the feature.  It may be more effective to identify frequent international travelers and update their plans.

The other main claim of MDM/EMM’s is that they can identify most active users and least active users.  MDM/EMM solutions can create usage reports that management can act upon by changing heavy user plans or removing low-use users.  Some reports only reflect messaging use not voice.  Therefore, it is important to define the usage base.

These features are real and have real value but are not, “real” mobile telecom expense management (TEM) systems.

How is mobile Telecom Expense Management different?

Mobile Telecom Expense Management is by far a more robust end-to-end lifecycle concept. Ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • Do you know how much you’re spending? If not, dollar signs might as well be spewing from the tablets and mobile devices in your infrastructure.
  • Is your organization getting the best rate plans available for your size?
  • Are the carriers actually billing you at the proper rates? Applying discounts?
  • Do Joe and Mary, who have the same devices, have the same plans? Same features? Are they billed at the same rates?
  • How are you ensuring your employees get the right devices, features and plans?
  • How do you dispute issues or incorrect bills and ensure you get credit?

If you’re unsure about any of these, a true mobile telecom expense management assessment and service can help provide answers.
A TEM service typically quickly begins saving money and has a short breakeven point.

With a telecom expense management, you can help reduce telecom expenses by typically 10 to 20 percent and increase control over voice, data and wireless costs. Typical payback ranges from three to nine months.

How TEM works
TEM typically starts with an optimization and expense review of all invoices, statements and bills for the past three months. This exercise can determine how much you are overpaying for mobile services.  Mobile TEM is a mobile device lifecycle management service. A few of its key attributes are that the TEM service can:

  • Based on its industry benchmarking, negotiate rates, terms and conditions with your carriers on your behalf, resulting substantial savings
  • Process your monthly invoices, audit to verify accuracy and even process payment to the carrier, reducing your burden and costs
  • Manage disputes and ensure proper credit if an invoice is found to be in error
  • Facilitate usage by assisting in the development of user personas and profiles identifying classes of need and arranging for plans that fit the profiles; or on a larger scale helping purchase bulk minutes, data and text at lower rates and then allocating to individuals and apportioning those reduced costs down to organization or department levels
  • Provide a user portal for employees to select approved devices, rate plans, services, accessories and so on, and process them, including approvals, submitting and tracking orders with the carrier, ensuring shipment to the user and proper activation and provisioning

Comparing MDM/EMM and TEM solutions
The complete TEM  picture is above and you can’t get these services and associated savings from an MDM/EMM. MDM/EMM’s are necessary and have their own value proposition.

But an MDM/EMM alone can’t tell you if you were billed incorrectly, inform you that you’re eligible for a device upgrade, order a device and more.MDM/EMM and TEM complement each other and in many cases can be integrated

IBM had a long history of TEM Services prior to the Wireless age.  Keep in mind Mobile TEM only relates to the devices connecting to cell towers.  True TEM includes all the other connections (wired) supporting a business on the internet, including switches, routers and  gateways

Tangoe enhanced capabilities in 2015 when by purchasing IBM’s Emptoris Rivermine Telecom Expense Management,  A software solution which provided expense data is in a single database managed from a single system not one for fixed and one for Mobile. When TEM is integrated with an MDM/EMM solution, it can Leverage the MDM/EMM to also lock or wipe devices and to reset passwords.  GSGtelco has a strong reputation for pulling together TEM,  Device Life Cycle Management and Cloud Hosted MDM/EMM.  MOBI and other Solid vendors are available.

However independent TEM information is scarce these days,  Gartner has not written a Magic Quadrant for Telecom Expense Management since March 29, 2012  even access to the 2013,  report on critical capabilities for TEM has expired. While Gartner has published  a paper “Competitive Landscape: Independent Telecom Expense Management Providers, 2016“,  at $1,295, I have not found one of its providers sponsoring free access.

To learn to know more about TEM and how TEM services can reduce your costs and increase your bottom line?  I suggest reviewing:

 

 

 

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