Why “Not To” Call Toll Free Numbers When Roaming on your Cell Phone

Toll Free Numbers from Your Cell Phone – Not So "Toll Free"

So you’re travelling, and your bringing along that power tool …you know the one, your cell phone! Since you’ll be roaming, and wish to keep your cell phones costs down, you’ve devised a plan to outsmart your provider, you’re going to use nothing but toll free numbers on your travels; therefore by calling only toll free numbers, eliminate any roaming costs, and charges! Or maybe not…

Well this myth could be a very nasty surprise when you get home. Watch our tip of the week and learn how to curb (not eliminate) costs when roaming and what really occurs when you dial cell phones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Telecom Expense Management for Small Businesses – Part 3

Single Point of Contact Support and Procurement

In part-3 of this 3 part series focusing on telecom expense management for small business, we look at single point of contact support and procurement. Dealing with the carriers can be especially challenging for small business as they are stuck between being treated like a consumer by the carriers, yet trying to run a company much like a mid size or larger business.

Therefore understanding how a single contact point where a small business can channel all of their communication needs can be extremely beneficial. Discover just a few ways outsourcing communication management support even for the small guy – is a good move.

 

 

 

 

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Status Quo Kills Small Business Communication Management

TEM – Management and Reporting Saving Small Business?

Management and Reporting as part of a telecom expense management solution is one of the most critical components to successful management. The reasons are simple and obvious for larger business; however, small business often feels it is outside of their realm of needs. This is a critical mistake! Lets discuss why management and reporting can curb the biggest killer of this expense…"Status Quo".

 

This is part 2 of a 3 part series on the benefit of telecom expense management for small businesses. Click the previous video on how a cost audit benefits small business to see part 1.

Does your business suffer from "status quo" – its not broken don’t fix it syndrome? We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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22 percent of enterprise employees currently fall into the category of “mobile information workers”

Mobile Management

In the past few years there has been a sharp rise in the number of remote or "on the go" workers. As a result, more and more iPhones, blackberry, androids and now the new iPads, and other mobile assets are finding their way into corporate technology environments. Mobile assets have become crucial in the productivity enhancement of an organization. 

Mobile management of smart phonesA recent survey conducted by Forrester Research shows that about 22 percent of enterprise employees currently fall into the category of "mobile information workers", using a variety of handheld devices to support their day to day activities. Additionally, Forrester estimates that approximately 6 percent of the US workforce uses their own personal mobile devices for work related activities, and that number is expected to grow to 25 percent by 2012.

As mobile communications are becoming necessary and a growing number of enterprises are purchasing new phones and service plans for their workforce, it is becoming more confusing to manage and optimize these expenses for the benefit of the business. One of the most effective ways to cut costs is by evaluating your wireless expenditures.

Do you have someone in your organization that handles the day to day tasks of Mobile – is it YOU? Are you handling tasks such as updating your mobile inventory, purchasing hardware for new employees, cancelling or transferring devices of retiring or leaving employees, upgrading devices due to loss or breakage and fighting billing errors, escalating costs & unknown charges? 

Of course, you would have realized that managing the day to day mobile services can be a challenging endeavor for any organization. Determining the best optimal voice/data plans, and figuring out which devices & features suits the needs of individual employees and the organization takes too much of your valuable time.

Here’s where outsourcing mobile expense management plays a vital role. A lot of your precious time is saved when you outsource mobile device management. Mobile management is more than just picking the lowest prices or the best handsets. It simplifies and streamlines the management of mobiles within your organization.

Mobile management companies provide unbiased mobile device management and single point of contact wireless help services. They manage procurement of your mobile devices, monitor service plans and respond to calls and emails from your end users. They maintain, track and replace hardware while maintaining confidentiality and compliance with your wireless policies, procedures and purchasing authorizations.

 

As more companies are adopting Smart Phones/PDAs, it is imperative to have a mobile procurement and usage policy at the organization. There needs to be the right mix of productivity, security and cost in devising the mobile policy. Are you still thinking about developing a mobile management plan for your company?

Telecom expense management is a multifaceted process

Telecom expense management

Corporate communications networks are costly and difficult to manage today than ever before. It has been found that the telecommunications spending area is wrought with inefficiency among organizations (the difference between ‘average’ and ‘competitive’ rates is as much as 40%). A staggering 80% of telecoms bills include hidden charges or incorrect billing.

Incorrect billing results in 10- 15% overcharges – Gartner Dataquest

In this competitive world, it is important for businesses to carefully manage their telecommunication costs. Telecom Expense Management (TEM) is a comprehensive approach to controlling what is one of the greatest expenditures in many businesses. It is a business approach to manage telecommunication service expenses (voice, data, and wireless) with a combination of software tools and manual auditing.

Telecom expense management is actually a multifaceted process. The basic telecom expense management activity is a cost audit that determines possible savings. This cost audit reduces the monthly service costs of your organization by up to 50% (average 32.8%). In manual auditing the auditor performs research and comparisons himself, while utilizing software applications like Tele-Watch to assist. Software auditing involves the use of specialized software tools designed to aggregate usage and billing data. In-cycle analysis involves ERP-class analytic tools to automatically reconcile detailed billing elements to service inventories and contracts/tariffs prior to payment processing.

A complete telecom expense management solution looks at the industry as a whole to find the best carrier for your needs. For example, one carrier may provide excellent rates for fleets of phones providing basic talk and text service, while another might be the best for 3G wireless Internet. Telecom experts need to keep up to date on the latest rates and agreements available from every carrier to provide the best possible savings. They are involved in detailed tracking by unit to detect employee misuse and inactive units. This helps in cutting down the unnecessary expenses.

Telecom expense management helps reduce the costs by finding cost effective sources for new hardware and upgrades such as smart phones and Bluetooth headsets. TEM provides you a detailed review of all your communication costs to keep your organizations telecommunication costs in control on an ongoing basis. It provides visibility into your costs enabling you to perform informed business decisions.

There is no risk involved in using the services of a TEM firm as it guarantees net savings for your company. It goes a long way in reducing the operational costs and improving the efficiency of your organization.

 

Think Twice Before You Add Palm Phones to Your Fleet

Mobile management is more than just picking the lowest prices or the best handsets. Consider the case of Palm products.

The Palm Pre was an extraordinary smartphone. The Pre Plus is even better. On the surface, both are worthy executive level phones with a unique OS and look that combined functionality and style. The Palm Pixi is a fun little phone for basic tasks – not great for core business activities, but it looks like might be good as a pure perk. Right now, the Pre and Pixi are incredibly cheap, so wouldn’t it keep costs down to pick them?

Palm Pre Mobile Management

The Palm Pre is a bargain for consumers -- but not the best for business.

Well I’ve given it away in the article title, but the sad answer is “no.” Yes, the Palm Pre is an excellent phone that carriers are offering for nothing on selected plans, but Palm is ailing. Its stock plummeted 19% on Friday March 19th, and may be worthless soon. CNN Money quoted one analyst as saying Palm is in a “death spiral.” This matters to end users because if Palm falls apart, that means you’ll be left with no upgrades, up to date support or new applications – and that’s not where you want to be with a contract. That’s a serious mobile management consideration.

What happened? Blackberries were the original smartphones before there was even a smartphone category, and are still the go-to phone for business use. The iPhone is in a league of its own. It can be customized for virtually any task by loading the right Apps, though many people probably use it for style and fun, not business. A past pioneer in the dying PDA category, Palm was ideally positioned to enter the smartphone category that replaced PDAs. Despite a few hiccups in the hardware and a foolish war with Apple over iTunes synching, the Pre looked ready to make Palm a third big player, bridging the gap between the too-serious Blackberry and the style-fixated iPhone.

Then Android hit. Palm couldn’t compete with an open OS that might not have been innovative, but was cheap to implement on a variety of handsets in all price categories, right up to the Droid, (Milestone in Canada) a phone obviously competing for the over $100 digital assistant niche. Android might be a poor fit for some handsets, but it will always cost less to implement, and the wave of Android phones creates a situation where once users will become familiar with the OS on one phone they’ll be comfortable with any handset that has an Android installation.

Palm’s tried to move forward with gaming and rich media applications in the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, but even if they save themselves, they’re doing it by attacking a niche with little relevance to business users. Either way, Palm phones aren’t the right choice for your company’s mobile fleet, no matter how far their prices drop. Good mobile management thinks about your interests across a phone’s entire lifecycle – not just at the point of purchase.

Mobile Expense Management – Keeping Up with your Wireless Fleet!

Mobile has become a critical element in productivity enhancements for Businesses. This has also lead to mobile charges becoming one of the top components of operating expenses for organizations. As more companies are adopting Blackberry/Smart Phones and other PDAs, it is becoming more imperative to stay on top of Mobile Management and Usage Policies.

What are your organization’s main Mobile-Wireless priorities?

  • Total cost of ownership (TCO)
  • International roaming costs /voice & data roaming
  • Procurement of hardware, contracts & plans for all mobile/wireless services
  • Customer support
  • Billing & Analysis tools
  • Management of devices on multiple mobile network operators
  • Remote access for staff working off site
  • Security
  • Device management
  • Exploiting unified communications & collaboration potential
  • Mobilizing data applications
  • On-site mobility
 

There is a true value in mobile expense management, along with the added support received in maintaining this complexity. Time and sanity are also saved when mobile device management is implemented into an organization.

 

Do you have someone in your organization that handles the day to day tasks of Mobile – is it YOU?

  • Updating your mobile inventory
  • Purchasing hardware for new employees
  • Cancelling or transferring devices of retiring or leaving employees
  • Upgrading devices due to loss or breakage
  • Swapping ESN’s / IMEI’s & SIM Cards
  • Keeping up with the latest accessories
  • Optimizing wireless plans
  • Auditing international roaming costs
  • Allocating expenses
  • Troubleshooting glitches and outages
  • Resetting voicemail
  • Adding new features
  • Fighting billing errors, escalating costs & unknown charges. 
Are you having FUN yet?
 

As you have guessed it or are already experiencing; managing the day to day mobile services can be a challenging endeavor for any organization. Determining the best optimal voice/data plans, and figuring out which devices & features suits the needs of individual employees and the organization are just the beginning of the managing process .

Don’t despair – it can be simplified, and streamlined.  Start with a plan of what you want to know. 

  • Start with reviewing your mobile bills for number of units being billed & used – remember some units may be expensed
  • Create a spreadsheet to track Mobile handsets, Blackberry devices, PDAs and other wireless devices currently in use by your organization as noted on your Wireless bills
  • Include in your spreadsheet, cell phone numbers, user name, type of handset, plans/features & of course costs
  • Determine Ownership of Inventory – some devices may be Company owned and others Expensed
  • Establish a Company Wireless Policy based on how you want to move forward with your Mobile Expense Management
  • If this is not your area of expertise, you may want to Consult an Expert on Mobile Expense Management
 

Cloud based Mobile Expense Management solutions give your organization the information it needs to promote cost savings with accountabilityvisibility and simplicity.

 

Telecom Expense Management vs. Telecom Audits: Tracking the Industry

Telecom Audits and Expense ManagementThrough Tele-Watch, GILL Technologies specializes in complete telecom expense management solutions. Telecom audits are part of the telecom expense management process, but many people think that’s the whole thing. An auditor looks through your bill, for errors and other issues, and gets them corrected. Simple! Unfortunately, while a pure telecom audit helps, it doesn’t get you the best cost reduction on wireless or other telecom billing.

"Telecom expense management means more than auditing phone bills"

One of the key differences you’ll find by opting for a 360 degree telecom expense management service such as Tele-Watch is its ability to take advantage of opportunities in an evolving telecommunications industry. The industry is constantly changing, and just looking at your bill, while helpful, won’t provide the best cost reduction opportunities. For example, while auditing your bill weeds out unneeded expenses based on contracts offered by your current carrier, but what if someone new comes in with a better deal? Canadian businesses are currently experiencing this in the wake of last year’s Canadian wireless spectrum auction. The old “big three” acquired as much spectrum as possible and swallowed other purchasers, but they couldn’t get everyone. That’s opened the door for new players such as WIND Mobile. Like many of the new wave of carriers, WIND is currently building its network from centers in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa. Other new carriers are only now setting up their infrastructures, getting hardware and planning their pricing. In Canada, carriers have never been particularly competitive so there’s plenty of room for innovation and price slashing. Expect to see better pricing, more unlimited plans and better contract terms. These won’t just come from new players, either; established carriers will have to improve their contracts to match their competitors.

A telecom audit may ensure your billing improves by the standards of your current plan, but true telecom expense management tries to get you the best rates available in the entire industry. We do that by keeping abreast of the industry for new developments. When we spot these opportunities we can provide a range of options, or just automatically implement the most cost effective without changing your phone numbers of services. While your bill will be audited, we can also perform migrations between carriers and renegotiations so that your company can take advantages of the latest developments in the industry.

 

International Calling Pushing Your Phone Bill Off the Chart – Skype It

With all of todays technology there is really no reason why telecom costs need to stay in the red. Skype is an immediate technology that can reduce International calling costs as noted by TechCrunch "Skype now accounts for 12% of all international calling minutes". Businesses and individuals can immediately reduce costs with nothing more than a technology change. In fact to incorporate all internal communication a company will not only benefit from reduced long distance over all but improved efficiency too. If there is any negative to incorporating Skype it would be in the quality of the call. This is always a concern whenever you begin to implement any VoIP solution. Internally we at GILL Technologies have found the call quality to be excellent 9 out of 10 times. The 10th time is not a big deal when considering businesses have become accustomed to lower quality of service (QOS) primarily due to the adoption of cell phones, being the primary communication tool for many. (A great reason for cell phone expense management – ok a plug). That being said I would recommend a gradual adoption to test the networks and overall satisfaction. Implement the service for internal calling to start, then expand into service calls. Once you are confident in the services (if that time comes) then unleash the full power and incorporate all calling. There is nothing worse than worrying about call quality when making a call, so build the comfort level. Prior to implementation; however, there are some guidelines that should be implemented and followed. Some things to consider are:

  1. Will the use of webcam be permitted
  2. What will the policy around webcam use be
  3. Set automatic away settings to an increment of 5 minutes
  4. Maintain status settings – i.e. when in a meeting set to "Do Not Disturb"
  5. Your identity picture policy if this is a concern
  6. Integration with outlook or other corporate mail
  7. Plug-Ins Policy – you may want to incorporate Recording Capability
  8. Wi-Fi Phones or Company IP Phones, or Soft Phones
  9. If Soft Phones – who will supply headsets

These are some of the things you may want to think about prior to unleashing instant communication in your organization. Over all, Skype is a great tool with thumbs up from us at GILL Technologies.

Wireless Communication Management Rhyme – “Scrooge is in the house”

So another year has passed and a new one just begun filled with new opportunities, but survival is the one we focus on. We must justify our roles and the easy target is our communications – for with no communications – there is no business. Present day communications management has become far more complex, the costs have escalated, and day to day management is potentially the most painful part of all. As we sit around the data room, we wonder if there will be a day again where we can be the heroes we once were – in charge of all that RAM, Routers, and terminals. Enjoying our superiority of technology; however, before we get too lost in all our memory bliss, tonight is a special night– a new decade and a new fiscal year is upon us. Budgets, efficiencies, new technology, and growth all in front of us but unlike other decades past we wonder exactly what the future holds. Fear not for tonight is a special night; tonight your IT Departments will be visited by three ghosts. The first, the ghost of technology past, followed by the ghost of financial reality preparing us for the ghost of leadership tomorrow.

GhostThe First Ghost

At the stroke of midnight Johnny Menclub our old IT Manager clatters through the walls with chains dangling.

[Johnny] “Hello gentleman – and gentle ladies, it’s been a long time. I miss those old days of camaraderie and cheer. You know the ones where all the technology was so complex it took engineers to keep us on track.”

[IT Department] “Yeah Johnny, you were the best. We had awesome jobs. We baffle everyone with gigabytes, and microwave transmissions. We were gods. We could do no wrong. “

[Johnny] “Yeah boys, those were the good days – ‘they’ needed us. We were indispensible. But I’m here to warn you, be careful gentleman – the times have changed and its rough out there – I don’t want you to end up like me – you need to re-invent your place…..”

Johnny is sucked back from the matrix he came from.

[IT Department] That was creepy – poor Johnny he was a good lad. But he’s right. Technology has changed. User friendly applications are standard and that damn mouse can help solve anything.

The Second Ghost

With little time to recover Stacy Query appears our current CFO as if in a bad dream. She is the one who changed everything – now all we hear is how we must drive costs down, yet management keeps adding feature rich functionality and data costs are climbing. Somehow Stacy thinks it our fault!

[Stacy] “I can hear you, she bellows. Of course it’s your fault, you’re responsible for technology and wireless cost management is technology. You should be keeping costs in check”

[IT Department] “Our fault?!?!? How can it be our fault? We’re not accountants. We keep the technology of this company advancing giving us cutting edge solutions and keeping us ahead of the competition. How were we suppose to know your sales and marketing team would start utilizing data and cellular devices to drive growth in the company”

[Stacy] “Well if you were giving me the data I needed to know where costs were increasing, what was valid and what was abuseareas, we could curb costs while keeping your gadgets running – then I could use that information to empower our organization for growth”

[IT Department] “Wait a second since when is it our job to fill out spreadsheets – and who has the time – we’re busy supporting all the users who can’t seem to read manuals. If we had implemented some Cellular Procurement Policies in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”

[Stacy] “Well all I know is I’m not taking the blame for these rising costs. The carrier’s will just have to help us.”

Stacy melts in a pool of red ink.

[IT Department] “Anyone know why the carrier would help us reduce costs and in turn their revenue, huh! So now we’re suppose to implement new hardware, manage costs, negotiate contracts, complete spreadsheets, discover abandoned assets…..who’s getting dinner”

The Third Ghost

With a ray of light and warmth filling the room – Dave Ceokata appears…

[Dave] “Fear not my team there is a better way, a way accounting can get their wish of tighter costs, Operations getting improved efficiencies, and IT smoother day to day operations allowing for the time needed to ensure our company stays on the technology cutting edge.”

[IT Department] “But how is this possible Dave? We have tried to manage but things are changing so fast, carrier plans seem to change every month, user device application and adoption is growing weekly, hardware is getting more costly and gosh dangit – Communications is the lifeline.”

[Dave] “Your right team, communications is the lifeline, and it’s why we have to ensure our team is over seeing it. But not buried by it. We need to find the professionals who can produce monthly wireless cost audits keeping the cost under control and are independent from our carriers – thus who will work for our benefit – I know there is savings to be had! We need a support team, who can handle the day to day user queries, and get you guys off hold with the carriers. Finally we need communication management software that can provide us the Intel, to ensure corporate compliance to policies, eliminate defunct units, and produce quality feedback helping us grow maximizing our communications as the tools they were meant to be.

[IT Department] Does this dream exist?

[Dave] Ah yes the dream exists team. In fact in less than 30 days we could be saving money, have superior visibility, and user bliss with single point of contact support and procurement. Go now team, implement the solution, over see it and create bliss through our organization. Be the heroes I know you can be!