Peter Walsh, CommsCloud director
For mid-sized organisations without a large IT budget, convergence and the move to IP-telephony is posing a serious challenge. Disruptive technologies like cloud computing are here to stay. The ‘bring your own device’ trend has set in and more and more things (from fridges to phones) are being connected daily. According to Intel, the number of networked devices will be double the world’s population by 2015. For IT managers trying to cope with current needs, like managing the BYOD explosion, while planning for future network and bandwidth requirements, things are not going to get easier any time soon.
While IT managers (and CIOs) have traditionally faced the challenge of being in a continuous upgrade cycle, falling behind now could have disastrous consequences for organisations.
Managing telecommunications infrastructure is both complicated and technically difficult.
Upgrading and keeping pace with change is resource intensive, requires a strong understanding of costs and business needs, and is further complicated by the current legislative and regulatory environment.
Chasing price when managing telecommunications infrastructure is the wrong way to do it – as evinced by the cut-prices the corporate world has obtained from operators like MTN and Vodacom over the years without great service to show for it. IT managers need to understand their costs, and their business need better than their service providers do. They need to benchmark costs by product and solution (to measure and monitor progress); this will show where inefficiencies lie and where there is opportunity for improvement as well as what needs to be prioritised. IT managers should also document their business need so that they can clearly communicate this to the service providers they engage with.
Most businesses will not be able to conduct this process internally. Telecommunications expense management is a relatively new discipline in South Africa and not yet well understood or well used. Local TEM expertise does exist in specialist consultancies, however, and IT managers would be well-served to get one on board to conduct this assessment.
Once the assessment is complete, price your needs on the open market via an RFP/RFI or tender process. Bandwidth costs are coming down and if you’ve not renegotiated pricing in the last 24 months then chances are you are paying too much.
Use your documented business need along with clearly defined deliverables, and ensure responding service providers have all the information they need to propose a viable solution. Request an SLA and get a legal mind involved in the signing of commercial agreements.
If you have to change networks bear in mind that it is a challenging project that requires detailed planning, strong communications and change management skills, good project management and will involve some degree of disruption.
Get the process right and you can upgrade the network to one that is scalable, resilient and redundant while fulfilling the business’ strategic IT requirements and driving down costs. You will also be able to future proof your business and embrace an evolving IT landscape.