One of the things I dread about travel is finding yourself trapped in an endless conversation with a fellow flyer. I have a (mostly) full-proof method for avoiding these interactions. At the gate, I place my handbag and carry-on luggage on the seat next to mine to create some personal space. Next, I put in my headphones and conspicuously hold my phone so it’s clear that I’m listening to something that requires my full attention. These actions are accompanied by a furrowed brow and periodic nods. At the same time, I arrange my facial features so they clearly telegraph the message, “I don’t do small talk.”
My small talk avoidance technique (STAT) did not work on my last trip. My flight was delayed, and the gate area was packed. I had to give up the seat next to mine and soon found myself in conversation with the woman next to me. Full disclosure: I caved. I initiated the conversation with an off-hand remark about flight delays. Within seconds, I was deep in conversation with my new bestie. As much as I complain, I don’t really mind these interactions. I genuinely like people (most people) and enjoy getting to know them. On this occasion, my discussion had some bearing on technology expense management (TEM).
You know the airport routine. You make small talk about the weather, your ultimate destinations, and inevitably the conversation turns to work. My travelling companion was a brand manager in the consumer-packaged goods industry. She was responsible for a well-known brand; a brand that I use. When it was my turn to share, I started to explain technology expense management, and her eyes immediately began to glaze over. I was losing my audience, so I pivoted and asked her what the process was for ordering devices and software from her IT department. It worked! Every corporate employee has an IT horror story.
She went on a lengthy rant about how cumbersome the process was to order telecom services (like GoTo Meeting) for a new member of her team. She continued on about lengthy wait times when calling her help desk to activate a new mobile phone and the repeated difficulties her team faced when trying to purchase software licenses. I could understand her concerns. I’ve heard them before. Yet the simple solution is adjusting the way companies deploy their technology expense management solutions.
With that in mind, here are four recommendations for a successful TEM deployment, which are based on IDC’s latest findings:[i]
1. Carefully Consider All Providers
Where do they excel? Where are they weak? Look at reports from the different analysts. Don’t rely too heavily on just one report. Consider write-ups from multiple sources. Typically, each analyst report will focus on a different subset of the solution. Reviewing several of these will help you determine how solution providers stack up in the different areas.
As you review offerings from different providers, consider the requirements of all your customers. Does the solution offer an intuitive, easy-to-use, end-user portal that simplifies the processes for employees who use the system?
2. Look at Your Business in its Entirety
What are your organization’s overall business goals? How does your telecom, and more broadly your technology infrastructure, support these goals? To answer these questions fully, you will need to consult with the different lines of business leaders in your organization. Some questions to ask include: What are the key objectives for each business group? What are their short, medium, and long-term goals? How do they plan to achieve these goals? What technology or services, if any, will the business group need to employ to achieve these objectives? Don’t stop at the surface. You’ll need to ask questions and dig deeper to get some actionable information.
3. Consider the Scalability of the TEM Solution
The more you invest in next-generation technologies, the greater the need for scalable management of those technologies. This is an extension of recommendation number two addressed above; however, the focus is on new technologies.
Organizations continue to focus on digital transformation. These new technologies and services (like IoT, PaaS, Saas, etc), with their different pricing models, increase the complexity of effectively managing deployed technology and spend. As you meet with your line of business leaders, make sure you are aware of their future initiatives and that you have a thorough understanding of the technology investments needed to support these plans.
4. Leverage the Full Breadth of Services & Available Capabilities
Most TEM solutions providers offer a combination of technology and services. Consider all these offerings as you make your decision. Make sure you fully understand all these products and services. In many cases, you may not have even been aware of a solution offering or that this offering can help you solve an existing problem. At this stage of your investigation, it is important that you are not constrained based on your current processes. Keep an open mind and look for opportunities to simplify or streamline current processes. For instance, when considering a managed mobility services (MMS) solution, ask for details about help desk services offered? What are typical wait times? Better yet, how can you reduce the reliance on a help desk for activating mobile services?
My new airport friend deals with the front end of the technology lifecycle. She is not concerned about visibility of all assets, negotiating contracts, or managing expenses. This highlights a challenge those of us in the TEM industry face. We support three types of customers: (1) customers the business serves, (2) our end-users (fellow employees) who depend on telecom services to serve our customers, and (3) executives who are concerned with business efficiency, employee productivity, and cost control. If we do not meet the expectations of all three types of customers, then we have failed.
One important piece of a successful deployment is ensuring that the needs of all three constituents are addressed by the chosen TEM solution. This can be a daunting task, but it is not impossible and an experienced telecom expense management solution provider can help you achieve success.
Want More Information?
Download IDC’s exclusive research report: Telecom Expense Management: Order in a Complex World. In it, you will find details, such as the latest trends driving demand for TEM solutions, three factors to consider when deciding on a TEM solution, seven attributes needed for a successful deployment, and more.
[i] IDC, Telecom Expense Management: Order in a Complex World, June 2018