Identifying, Abolishing the Top 3 Telecom / IT / Mobility Management Misconceptions
Any endeavor can thrive or die by perception. The people who run telecom/IT/mobility management know, probably better than most, how true that is. That’s because they face rampant misconceptions about their work, and can spend more time defending what they need to do than getting it done. This blog explores the obstacles that keep an organization’s leaders from understanding how value can be driven throughout the Telecom Management Ecosystem well beyond cost savings, and provides tips for overcoming those hurdles, using AOTMP’s Efficiency First® Framework as the roadmap. Abiding by both structures and their inherent best practices will, as more organizations adopt them, create industry standards, just as Six Sigma and ITIL have done for processes and IT, respectively.
Perception and misconception go hand in hand. Resetting one should right the other. When that happens, telecom / IT / mobility management stakeholders can instead pursue more strategic opportunities. Achieving that goal starts with chipping away at old ideas.
It’s Not About Cost … Really
The #1 misconception that seems determined to die a slow death is that telecom / IT / mobility management equals expense analysis and reduction. This leads to additional incorrect assumptions:
- Large year-over-year savings will continue; and
- Managing telecom/IT/mobility only means honing in on costs.
The reality is, if an expense management platform is doing its job, annual savings will go down drastically or disappear altogether. It resembles paying taxes in the United States – getting returns every year means you’re overpaying the government. A small or non-existent refund is optimal.
The same idea goes for expense management, which represents the bottom rung in what should be a multi-tiered and complex ladder.
A key reason the expense focus hangs on, though, is that many vendors are guilty of perpetuating the myth that saving money is all that matters. Instead of emphasizing how a telecom/IT/mobility management department can and should bring value and returns to the organization, many vendors still talk about and focus on savings. Too many people in the industry, on the vendor and enterprise sides, remain reactive, trying to adjust identified billing errors. “They’re spending lots of time trying to fix things backwards rather than fixing the root cause,” said Tim Lybrook, CEO of AOTMP. “There’s a lot more fire-fighting than there is moving forward.”
The more effective, and proven, approach identifies why the problem occurs and implements a solution, said Timothy C. Colwell, senior vice president of Efficiency First® Adoption at AOTMP. Until that mindset firmly takes hold throughout the industry, enterprises can expect executives to keep viewing telecom/IT/mobility as cost-controlled utilities, not as assets. “There needs to be better understanding of the correlation between what the services in the environment do for the business and what those business objectives are,” Colwell said. Scott Lawrence, vice president of business analytics at AOTMP, concurred. “Many organizations are asking themselves, ‘What’s next for our telecom management practice?’ as cost savings have diminished significantly,” he said. Fortunately, there is more.
Vendor, Prove Thyself
The second overarching misconception surrounds vendors, their roles in the Ecosystem and their impact on enterprises. Most vendors “would say they have nothing to do with the telecom management industry,” said Lybrook. For example, companies that provide the help desk ticketing systems for moves/adds/changes/disconnects and all manner of equipment vendors tend to see themselves as outside of telecom/IT/mobility management. Lybrook disagrees. “Do they play a role in how efficient a telecom environment is? Absolutely.”
When examining the telecom/IT/mobility management industry through the Efficiency First® Framework, any vendor connected to an enterprise’s telecom environment, fixed or mobile, holds influence. “Vendors have a significant impact on the efficiency of fixed and mobile telecom environments,” Lawrence said. Take the example of incident management ticketing software. A savvy vendor will know that it brings more to the environment when it understands the most common use cases and, accordingly, develops solutions that tie into areas of the enterprise including service, support and even finance, Colwell said. In turn, those business units benefit from reduced friction and frustration, and the vendor stands out as a partner that helps operations flow more smoothly. This illustration applies across the gamut of vendor definitions.
Yet, therein lies the challenge. Many types of vendors remain unaware of how they affect the telecom/IT/mobility management environment. “All different vendors will think they’re the center of the universe,” Colwell said. “No one vendor drives enterprise results, it’s a collection of vendors working in harmony that elevate telecom management performance.” So vendors must become willing to think differently and to grow. “It takes a village,” Colwell said. “No one piece is more important than the other. They all have an effect on the other, positive or negative, whether they recognize it or not.”
Vendors must move away from this standalone outlook and into one that considers the Ecosystem and how everything, and everyone, works together. The simple acts of considering customers’ goals for telecom usage, and actively understanding how products and services fit into those objectives, help jumpstart that change. When efforts such as these become the new normal, the telecom/IT/mobility management industry will experience more cohesion and elevate itself beyond the misconception that all it does is find savings for enterprises.
Who Chooses a Vendor
Finally, another major misconception that hurts the enterprise is people believing they are powerless over vendor selection. “They think, ‘There’s nothing I can do about it.’ And the fact of the matter is there is something you can do about it,” Colwell said. To that point, the telecom/IT/mobility management group should help decision makers understand how a certain provider stands to affect the organization and whether the relationship will be beneficial. “Create uplift,” Colwell advised. “Even if I have no authority to select vendors, that doesn’t mean it’s not my problem.” That rings especially true for staff in the telecom/IT/mobility management department who work with the provider. “Everybody can act as a vessel to enlighten the organization,” Colwell said.
Getting Beyond TEM
How does an enterprise get beyond “expense” management, then? Leaders and staff alike must first realize that everyone in the telecom/IT/mobility management department – and throughout the organization – has played a role in allowing such a stringent focus to develop.
“Like any 12 Step program, there has to be an acceptance that there’s a problem,” Colwell said. Understand, too, he added, that these issues will only continue if enterprises “sit on their hindquarters and moan about how it’s the vendor’s fault that everything doesn’t go right, or if vendors moan about crazy customers.” Aligning to a common set of practices and adopting the requisite recommendations will straighten out the kinks. “There is too much fragmentation in the telecom management industry,” Lawrence said. “Standards must be developed to create an efficient and effective Telecom Management Ecosystem.”
Recall the Efficiency First® Framework. In that structure are 10 elements – focus areas – that, combined, create a truly efficient telecom/IT/mobility environment:
Cost comprises only one of the 10 areas. An enterprise must incorporate, rely on and hold accountable each one if it hopes to achieve efficiency and productivity within the telecom/IT/mobility management department and the entire organization. Again, “expense” stands out as the most common misconception associated with the telecom/IT/mobility management sector. But it is equally important to fix each false assumption by adhering to the Efficiency First® Framework. When enterprises adopt these best practices, and vendors design and deploy their products and services that have adopted them, the entire sector will see happier clients and more revenue.
— Kelly Teal, Editor-in-Chief, AOTMP Telecom Management Industry Update
This blog is part of the May 3, 2017 issue of Telecom Management Industry Update. Download a .pdf here.