Innovate! - Improving Standards in Telecom Expense Management

By Douglas Coupland, Director of Telecommunications, Cook County Government

Douglas Coupland, Director of Telecommunications, Cook County Government

Trends in the big data revolution are creating exciting new business opportunities in telecom expense management, which enterprises are just beginning to explore. Adoption of these emerging innovations will result in bottom-line savings.

Opportunity #1: Standardizing on data elements across platforms will result in productivity gains

Too often telecom expense systems are populated with disparate information for common data fields such as cost center, location and employee data (employee name, ID, organization). For example, the HR system might identify the location of your Chicago branch office as “Chicago,” while the real estate management system may reference the same location as “1060 W. Addison,” but your workforce management system may populate the location as “Wrigley Field.” If telecom expense management systems use data from these host systems to report expenditures, potentially valuable outputs become relatively useless.

Here is a hypothetical example: The real estate division has a database of property identifiers; addresses, floor numbers, room numbers and so on. The accounting division has cost center information by general ledger codes. HR systems contain employee hierarchical information. Smart telecom administrators should gather together subject matter experts from these functional areas to:

• Adopt standards for these common data elements across platforms;
• Memorialize the source of truth for each of the data elements;
• Establish feeds of this data directly into their expense management system.

The business result will be a wealth of useful and meaningful analytical data to properly report and manage telecom expenditures

Opportunity #2: Leveraging Microsoft Active Directory for automated decommissioning of access lines, licenses and other entitlements

Most IT platforms come with LDAP integration, but too often enterprises do not recognize the business opportunity to automatically reduce expenditures and reuse resources. As an employee exits the enterprise, his or her identity is “deactivated” in Active Directory, which can send alerts to downstream systems to automatically:

• Send notice to disconnect mobile devices;
• De-provision desk phones;
• Reclaim Virtual Private Network (VPN) credentials;
• Reassign cloud licenses in Office 365;
• Delete building access credentials.

Opportunity #3: Using geolocation to visualize your expenditures

Location data can also provide a lot of business value. With today’s mapping tools it has become easier than ever to visualize expenditures geographically.

"Telecom expense management has a significant role to play in this era of big data.  As our systems and their connections converge, we have the potential to harness data in new and exciting ways to make data-driven business decisions"

The real estate division sold the Chicago branch office. Did they remember to tell the telecom department to disconnect carrier service? It was a big branch and bills thousands per month in access charges. Overlay an updated file of real estate holdings with a map layer of telecom expenditures and the map will indicate where expenditures remain in abandoned properties.

If the real estate division populates each address with its corresponding property tax ID, that dataset can be married to the open data portals of local county jurisdictions to provide a wealth of useful information. One applied use case involves a telecom manager who looked up the property tax information of an unfamiliar address billing monthly data line charges from a carrier. The county tax jurisdiction website provided ownership information for the property. The telecom administrator cross-referenced against a list of retired employees and discovered that service to this address should be cut.

Telecom expense management has a significant role to play in this era of big data.  As our systems and their connections converge, we have the potential to harness data in new and exciting ways to make data-driven business decisions.  It takes smart telecom managers to recognize the potential business opportunities that can be exploited by putting these technologies to good use.   

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