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By Rob Lith, business development director, Connection Telecom

It’s highly likely that your company is flushing thousands of rand down the drain or rather into telecoms providers’ pockets – without even knowing it.

Telecoms expense management (TEM) is often one of the most overlooked cost centres in business.

Companies are wasting an exorbitant amount of budget on telecoms as a dedicated member of the team with the necessary expertise, a resource that few enterprises can spare, is required to manage these costs.

This position requires that the employee has a knowledge blend of IT, finance and the intricacies of service provider billing as well as the ability to both interpret and negotiate contracts.

It is estimated that just the difficulty (excluding the billings and assets) of managing a decentralised system immediately adds 10-25% on your telecoms expenses.

In essence, for companies that do not have this telecoms magician in-house, there are four ways in which it is fettering away valuable income and commercial opportunity on legacy telecommunication systems.

1. Inflated packages and lack of transparent billing

Do you even know what you’re paying for? After an audit we completed, a company calculated that it had purchased a supreme package from a provider with multiple lines and a variety of services. In essence they were losing a few thousand rand a month for telecom services that they neither used nor needed.

In addition, the billing system lacked transparency where the client was unsure as to what they were paying for. The bills kept on increasing as the charges became more complex. Examples of this include tangible assets, intangible services and billings that move between peak and off-peak rates.

2. Telecom equipment lifecycles

Many companies are sitting with antiquated PABX systems that offer poor voice clarity and are unable to link in with the introduction of new technology. These systems may have also reached end-of-life regarding maintenance and servicing.

3. Package lock-ins

Telecom systems often lock the company in with regards to the technology that is deployed to facilitate the system. While an enterprise may like to embrace the advent of new technology that facilitates an omni-channel approach to customer engagement, it can be incredibly costly to discard a current system that required considerable capital investment. This can restrict the company’s opportunity to move to a customer-centric and/or mobile solution.

4. Inconsistent service

The reality is that by basing a telephony system in the cloud, companies are able to move office with no disruption in service. Fixed line approaches inhibit a company’s ability to grow, move premise or implement a disaster recovery solution if the need arises.

But companies aren’t necessarily embracing VoIP in the cloud because of the way in which it is presented to the market. Unified communications by itself means nothing to a business unless it enhances or optimises a company’s operations through communications enabled business processes (CEBP).

What the market needs to be hearing are the business benefits namely; an average saving of 30-40% a month, a competitive call rate, zero disruption in service and a telecommunications approach that facilitates customer retention and new business development.

Cloud-based telecommunications technology is an opportunity to embrace and deliver a seamless omni-channel approach to your customer. Customers expect to be able to communicate with a company using a communication method of their choice be it the call centre, a web-based service, web chat or email communication.

The expectation is also that the combination of these services gives the company an opportunity to have one-view of the client to facilitate a seamless customer experience. As the saying goes, it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one.

In addition a centralised telecommunications approach can facilitate real-time data on consolidated dashboards to assist executives in making business decisions using reliable and current information.

Mobility has moved from an investment in personal productivity to one in corporate competitiveness. It’s not just about talking to clients on the phone but offering a well-rounded customer experience that uses technology that offers a real-time, scalable, cost-effective and reliable service.

A cloud-based VoIP solution has the potential to offer this.

Rob Lith, business development director, Connection Telecom