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Managing wireless expenses

The difficulty of managing wireless expenses creates an opportunity for service providers.

With Sudy Bharadwaj, vice president of global supply management for the AberdeenGroup ( Bharadwaj helped write a recent research report entitled "The Wireless Costs and Performance Benchmark Report."

Question: What did the research look at?

Bharadwaj: What we wanted to do is understand how companies are approaching the cost management aspect of wireless. It's a different beast than other telecom areas in how it's sourced, priced and delivered. Simply put, everyone expenses their wireless. That's one of the problems on expense reports. It's very tough to get an Excel-based expense report and truly understand the overall cost structure of what they are doing in wireless. [There also are] things like inventory. The fact is that even if I handed you a cell phone when you showed up, will you take it with you [when you leave the company]? Basically it's inventory management. That's one of the areas causing cost leakage. In some of these situations, what you would find is that people are taking their cell phones with them.

Question: What can a company do to get this hard-to-control area under better control?

Bharadwaj: The first thing is to do better at having, publishing and enforcing a true policy. [It also helps to have] someone who understands expense limits, [which employees are] allowed to get certain types of devices and that the company may have a pre-negotiated set of services and that's all the employees have access to. People are getting serious about enforcing expense policies.

Question: Sounds like a perfect market for outside service providers. Is this so?

Bharadwaj: There are technologies and services that clients have that deal with telecom cost management solutions that do everything. There are three dimensions: the negotiating, the policies themselves and the ongoing bill payment and understanding of the bill. There are companies that receive 700-page bills. You can demand a simpler bill or get electronic payment capabilities. [The sponsors of our report are] companies that are experts at understanding different kinds of wireless services. They know the market rates by area. They know usage by role within a company: "[This person] shouldn't have as much wireless [capacity used] as he does. He's watching the NFL draft. It's obviously running up your bill." Or their daughter is text messaging. That's something technologies can catch. Companies can bill based on technology and can match phone numbers very accurately. As a result they can tag specific numbers to specific [users] and even understand how much they can bill a [user] based on phone charges.

This 3 Questions originally appeared in a weekly report from IT Business Edge.

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