The first generation of telecom management, often called cost management, was focused on telecom carrier cost. Manual invoice-to-contract compliance audits were performed to identify billing errors so that overcharges could be recouped. It was labor intensive and primarily provided value by reacting to ever-present carrier billing errors.
The second generation of telecom management introduced automation to reduce stare-and-compare labor and to reduce the time required to complete audits. This was achieved using specialized software and electronic invoice media from carriers for the same cost management objectives as the first generation. This generation also introduced invoice processing and payment activities to collectively establish telecom expense management (TEM) as an industry category.
The third generation of telecom management introduced lifecycle management principles that incorporated work streams associated with expense and invoice management into the equation. Inventory management, contract management, service ordering, incident management and dispute management have a direct influence on telecom expenses and by incorporating these activities into the scope of the TEM practice, the lifecycle of telecom services, assets and costs can be managed. An overlay of policy and business rules governs the lifecycle management approach for this generation.
The fourth generation of telecom management quantifies the business value of the telecom estate. All attributes of the third generation are essential to this objective. The technical, financial and operational aspects of a telecom environment must be understood, controlled and optimized to ensure that service-to-cost value is delivered; however, the fourth generation transcends cost control as the end-state goal of telecom management and establishes strategic contribution to business results as the primary objective.
Controlling the cost of the telecom environment illustrates good business sense; measuring the business value generated by the telecom environment illustrates strategic business vision. Welcome to the fourth generation of the telecom management industry.