Recent proposed regulations by the FCC to prevent “bill shock” are a step in the right direction in protecting consumers from outrageous mobile charges. These regulations would require carriers to notify end users when they are approaching usage limits, and could take effect as early as this year.
These moves are in response to a recent study by the FCC, which found that 30 million people have experienced some form of bill shock, typically $98 in overage fees, and as much as $8,553 for unspecified data usage. The FCC study also found that some individual complaints have even been as large as $68,505 in unexpected overage fees.
If this is what’s happening on the consumer level, imagine the overages phone companies routinely charge to global corporations, where telecom spending is one of the largest components of the enterprise expense budget (as much as 4 to 10 percent).
Companies typically receive phone book-sized telecom bills each month and have virtually no checks on their accuracy, and no framework to understand whether their telecom service is properly utilized. However, there are a few simple things companies can do to better anticipate, track and control their overall usage and correct billing errors while keeping pace with the latest mobile technologies.
For both individuals and companies, one must know what the baseline mobile usage figures are. Implementing a comprehensive inventory and usage management system is central to gaining and maintaining control over mobile usage. These systems track who is using which devices, how much cost they are incurring and what their pattern of usage is. When coupled with effective policy enforcement (e.g. device/plan selection, rate plan optimization and identifying unapproved use) companies can reduce their costs, improve policy compliance and reduce bill shock risk without impacting usability.
You can’t manage or find errors in what you don’t track usage-wise. Given the rapid growth of mobile usage within corporations, it is critical to monitor different types of mobile usage for cost control, security and policy management reasons. Managing by department in particular gives line managers the insight and incentive they need to control the usage patterns of their user groups.
However, capturing the information is only the first step. It is critical that information be made available to the budget holders and the individuals that are actually using devices in order to drive maximum benefit. Everyone must understand what the base usage costs are so that discrepancies can be discovered quickly and resolved.
This process provides multiple layers of oversight that work with one another in order to understand and monitor usage. In addition to this process, companies should survey the telecom needs of their employees to streamline usage from top to bottom and to avoid being oversold by providers.
The following steps provide both short-term financial boost and long-term cost reductions. These steps can streamline the telecom budget with resulting baseline operational costs reduction. They also provide greater oversight and reduced bill shock risk exposure while equipping your workforce with the best technology for the job.
• Survey the technology and services in every category where you have visibility
Look at both the internal communications structure and the mobile structure of the company and the work force. Internal and external communications must be consolidated. Most of your large expenditures should be defined by contract. Review your contracts to determine if there are openings in the contracts that allow you to take action.
• Include employees in the reduction and optimization efforts
Consider distributing the corporate responsibility of your telecom expense management. If you bracket it during the period when you need the help most, you will find everyone can gather together and push forward, leaving old habits and biases behind.
• Negotiate with your service providers to maximize your ROI
The best way to achieve this is by hiring expertise to negotiate the price and terms of telecom contracts on your behalf. This will force providers to compete and will drive down the final cost of the contract. This is similar to hiring a consultant to do your taxes, to find the most possible deductions.
John Blyzinskyj is president of Avotus.