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Under continuing pressure to reduce costs, multi-national businesses are looking to achieve greater visibility of their rising telecommunications spend, in order to forecast expenditure with the accuracy they need. More than half the companies surveyed (55%), confirmed that reducing telecoms costs is a high priority, yet 72% still have some way to go in predicting future spend with the desired degree of accuracy or reliability.

These were among the main findings of a major survey of European enterprise businesses recently undertaken by Circle Research on behalf of Vodafone Global Enterprise to explore those issues currently causing CIOs most pain within their business. Communications represents one of the biggest areas of any organisation’s operational spend. Yet as the survey highlights, for many it remains less transparent and controlled than other expenditure budgets. This presents a major challenge, as they look to manage their telecoms activity in a way which is both cost-efficient and effectively supports the broader business.

Communications represents one of the biggest areas of any organisation’s operational spend. Yet as the survey highlights, for many it remains less transparent and controlled than other expenditure budgets. This presents a major challenge, as they look to manage their telecoms activity in a way which is both cost-efficient and effectively supports the broader business.


Rising costs

Companies recognise the need to seize back control here. Though reducing telecoms budgets is a key area of focus, 55% expect their organisation’s global spend to increase over the next 12 months, especially in the area of mobile telephony.

This issue is thrown into sharper focus by the need to combine both mobile and fixed line spend in the same report. Companies seem to be moving slowly in the right direction here as nearly 40% of multi-national businesses already treat these as one integrated area of spend, though as yet only 46% are easily able to take a consolidated view of bills from suppliers of both mobile and fixed line telecoms.

They know what best practice should look like. An overwhelming 82% said they would prefer to use a single telecoms provider across the organisation’s global footprint. And the really good news for these businesses however is that best practice solutions now exist which can provide the visibility demanded, by offering a consolidated, centralised view of mobile and fixed spend from one supplier.


Rogue spending

With growing workforce flexibility, the increase in mobile device usage as a share of total telephony expenditure has brought its own unique challenges for multi-national companies. In taking full control of their communications costs, a key issue for more than three-quarters of respondents was the importance of identifying rogue spending before it was too late.

One in five businesses believe they are managing this effectively. A further 61% were only able to identify excessive spending once it appeared on monthly bills: for a further 15%, unauthorised spending might not come to light until some time later.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of multi-national businesses prohibited the personal use of business phones or expected to be reimbursed by staff. Over half (54%) of companies overall confirmed they were able to manage this effectively as they could easily distinguish between personal and business use with the billing data currently available to them: in the case of those businesses that allow reasonable personal use, this increased to 59%.

Having said that, a significant minority remain unable to manage this in the way they would like. Yet once again, management tools are available which enable the necessary level of centralised visibility to keep this potentially volatile area of expenditure under tight control.


More from less

It is clear that managers under pressure to keep a tight rein on spiralling voice and data costs in many cases are looking to improve the quality of support available to them. Happily, in tackling existing expenditure ‘black holes’, these can all be avoided by implementing the right tools and tariffs.

As CEOs increasingly demand ‘more from less’ in their telephony spend, it is essential to put appropriate solutions in place such as fixed, per-user billing, which allows managers to see and keep track of what has traditionally been one of the hardest areas of corporate expenditure to control. And in so doing, turn communications into a highly effective business enabler.