Over the last three or four years AOTMP® has fielded hundreds of inquiries from telecom, mobility, and technology management vendors and businesses asking, “Isn’t there a better way for buyers and sellers to connect and be better aligned?”
From the vendors, we hear things like:
- How do we avoid the businesses that put out a request for proposal (RFP) just as a fishing expedition, having us drop everything we are doing to answer their RFP in a very unrealistic timeframe, just to get information, only to find out they don’t even have a budget for it?
- We put hours upon hours into RFP responses, only to be told that we cannot communicate with the teams we will be working with along the way. The best way to have a successful relationship for both sides is to spend as much time as possible really understanding each other, and yet we can’t. And a few demo meetings are not enough to get total alignment.
- How do we learn of people who really might be looking for what we have without wasting hours and hours chasing down people who end up having no interest or won’t even talk to us?
- Are buyers still really buying based on price and not value? I don’t even see how some vendors can deliver based on the prices they are quoting.
From the businesses, we hear things like:
- How can we sort through all the smoke and mirrors and get down to what capabilities a vendor really has? I would rather they tell me the five things they can’t do instead of telling me they can do everything. I would buy from the person who is totally honest and tells me what they can’t do, but also tells me how really good they are at the rest of it.
- What is the best way to sort through what really appears to be the same functionality? At a high level, it seems they all have the same things, and yet they say they are so much different than everyone.
- How is it that in my vendor #3 demo, they tell me they are the only ones who have a certain kind of functionality, and yet I just watched vendor #1 and vendor #2 demo me the same exact thing. I won’t buy from anyone who tells me they are the only ones doing something. Most of the time, it is not true.
- It just seems there is a lot of wasted time trying to get to the right solution with the right team. There must be a better way for buyers and sellers to connect, and more importantly, be better aligned. Maybe that’s why we are on our third solution.
I could fill this entire publication and many more with the same type of inquiries. They are never ending. And it’s not just with the TEM providers. It’s with all types of telecom, mobility, and technology products and services. It just seems to be the worst in the carrier group and the TEM group.
With that in mind, AOTMP® decided to start down the long road of looking at different ways for buyers and sellers to connect, and most importantly, align what buyers need with what sellers have. We are not kidding ourselves. The process of buying and selling telecom, mobility, and IT services changes incrementally over time, but the process largely remains the same. Changing it is a monumental task, but as supporters of businesses and enterprises in the telecom, mobility, and technology management space… We Have to Start!
To that end, we thought we could start with three easy and basic initiatives. First, get recommendations from vendor executives for businesses when shopping for a new solution. Secondly, get recommendations from business buyers for vendors when selling their solutions. And finally, let’s see if we can start with a very basic event to bring the two sides together in a different way. Let’s start with that, and then we can build from there. from vendor executives and their recommendations/considerations for executives on the business side; the buyers. In a future article I will share what the businesses are recommending to the vendors when selling their solutions.
As for the third starting initiative, AOTMP® announced the Industry Solution Showcase – AOTMP® is reimagining how buyers and sellers connect. You won’t want to miss this live online event on July 27-28. It’s just another way we are working to bridge the gap for both sides. Again, it’s a starting point. Vendors will present their solution(s) in 30-minute time slots over two days along with three best practice recommendations to the business/ enterprise-only audience. Businesses can see many solutions in a short period of time. Again, it’s a start to something much, much bigger. So, let’s get right to what the vendor executives had for recommendations and considerations for business executives. And to be fair, I didn’t ask for what an enterprise/business could do to improve the buying process. I only asked for what considerations they would recommend to business executives when looking for a new solution. Again, it’s just the start.
Dan Hughes, President at Sakon
The most important consideration for enterprise executives is to select a partner who will commit to their success. Each organization’s goals need to be considered top priority, which means listening, solutioning, committing to delivery excellence, and ensuring stakeholder objectives are met.
I would encourage decision makers to speak with references, industry analysts, delivery teams and really understand telecom management vendors’ commitments via assurances, clear statements of work (SOWs), and service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee results.
James Parker, CEO at Tangoe
Automation – it’s at the heart of any expense or lifecycle management solution. Are AI, ML, and RPA embedded into the solution to drive faster processing and identifying opportunities to save or maximize effectiveness?
Global – will the solution allow for you to grow beyond where you are today? Business changes at lightning speed. So, you need a platform that provides extensibility across geographies and boundaries.
Platform capabilities – meaning can you aggregate across multiple types of applications (TEM, MMS, Cloud) to have a common set of business rules and a holistic view of your technology spend and inventory at a department or location level?
Beyond process delegation – ITEM solutions started by means of automating and simplifying expense management from the carriers. Today ITEM solutions serve as the platform to support mission-critical applications for businesses and require a robust offering to deliver on that commitment. Does the provider bring that to the table?
Mitch Black, Executive Vice President & General Manger, Device, at Motus
As work environments continue to evolve, companies must also adapt their mobile environments. With the growth of both hybrid and remote employees, the necessity for multiple device programs ranging from bring your own device (BYOD) to traditional corporate provided has grown. With this evolution, executives must consider the number of systems required to manage these programs and the strain placed on their internal teams. Managing multiple device programs doesn’t have to be cumbersome or overcomplicated, but leaders must look for a system that can streamline management in one, unified platform. A complete solution for TEM and procurement that includes all necessary support services, logistics, and payments providing unified oversight makes program management virtually effortless.
Amy Bailey, SVP of marketing at Telarus
Ask your team how confident they are with your assets. Are they 50% confident or 90% confident? Where are those assets located? Who manages those assets? You can’t protect and manage what you don’t know.
- How do your customers want to engage with your brand? If you aren’t meeting customers where they want to meet, they will find someone who will. Is that an AI bot on your website? SMS conversations? Live agents? Know where your customers are, and then make sure you are there.
- Where are you with cybersecurity compliance? Did you move your workforce home during the Pandemic? Did best practices go out the window? Verifying VPNs, firewalls, and training to spot scams is paramount to a protected company.
Mark Hearn, CEO & President at Network Control
When considering a TEM solution for the enterprise, the executive sponsor should consider the following:
- What is the overall goal of the engagement? Is it resource mitigation, inventory and expense management/knowledge, cost savings, or reporting information?
- Do we have all the parties whom this can affect or have an impact on engaged? This includes IT/Telecom, Finance, HR, Facilities, and perhaps others. What information will we require/expect from them, and what information can we provide to them?
- How can we cost justify the engagement? Are there standard cost savings percentages of spend we can apply to this project that will help fund said services? What are the hours spent with internal resources that perform some or all the tasks that will be taken over by the TEM partner?
- Are there any operational integrations we need to understand and evaluate what, if any, development time is required? For example, do we need to provide HR data to the TEM? Is there information the TEM can provide back to us (like an employee’s wireless phone number/service, etc.)? What financial integration do we need to allocate charges back to the business unit, general ledger, etc. If the TEM can pay the bills, what information do we require from the TEM?
Shawn Veitz, Vice President at Tellennium
Here is what I would recommend an enterprise executive should consider.
Business Continuity – Many organizations rely on a single individual to receive and pay telecom invoices. What’s that risk to that company?
Risk – Questions to ask yourself to understand your current risk:
- How much of your business relies on internet/phone/data?
- What is the process to ensure that an invoice does not go missing and is not paid, which could cause a disconnection?
- What happens if an employee leaves unexpectedly? Does this cause a failure anywhere in the system?
Digital Transformation – As enterprises look at private 5G networks and other technologies, they need to understand what they have today, the terms of the agreements, and deploy a tracking system to monitor the transition of technologies. Is that being considered?
Operational Efficiency – How important is operational efficiency in your selection?
- Regarding loading of invoices, cost allocations, filing, archiving, payment automation, and reconciliations processes, is it important to keep those in-house?
- What does turnover cost? AP departments have one of the highest turn-over rates of any department – At a time when the nation is facing an employee crisis. Can the provider offset the turnover risk?
Greg McIntyre, CEO at Tellennium
One of the most critical purchasing aspects today, and sometimes hard to measure, is return on investment gained by saving personnel time Employee costs are continually rising, and it is often difficult to find qualified candidates. TEM providers can augment staff to support customers with constrained resources.
Look for automation and quantify the efficiency and productivity gains achieved through partnering with a TEM. Efficiency gains are much more enduring than just about any other justification aspect of a purchasing decision.
DJ Oreb, President, Managed Services Division at DMI, Inc.
- Make certain your solution and/or service is focused on the end-user experience.
- Understand the continuous innovation strategy of the product or service you are evaluating.
- Find a partner that will continue to consult and offer best practices and recommendations as part of their agreement.
I hope those were helpful. I thought they certainly provided good points to think about when looking at new solutions.
Again, this is just the start of a bigger process, that just had to start. We will continue to take it in small steps, and you will see more and more information from AOTMP® on this initiative. Watch for additional articles with what the business side has to say to the vendors.
There are things you can do to help move this initiative forward. Contribute ideas. Make suggestions and recommendations. Get involved as a vendor in the Industry Solution Showcase. As a business, register for the Industry Solution Showcase. It’s free. Talk to your vendors. Talk to your customers. And watch for other programs and ways to get involved and support the initiative. There will be many opportunities. We’re just getting started. Watch for them here in AOTMP® Insights. It publishes each month on the 10th. More to come, and in the meantime, please reach out if you have comments, thoughts, or recommendations on how we can move this initiative forward. We are all in this together, and we can move the needle.