Why Offer a Communication Management Free Trial?

Why has a communications management firm that has offered telecom solutions for a decade decided to offer its proprietary management software on a free trial? It’s hard for me to write the answer without sounding like an advertisement, especially since as I write the reasons, it sounds like an ad to me – but that’s not the case. It all has to do with the evolving business climate in the US and Canada. We’ve adapted to it and want to help other firms do the same.

North American business has changed over the last year. At GILL Technologies, we’ve been very fortunate to have a loyal client base. Over the years, we’ve changed to respond to its requests for additional features and services and to keep GILL Technologies focused on best practices. In fact, what began as a cost audit company some 10 years ago has developed into much more. For example,  ClientCare (a component of our service) has become one of our most sought after services. Today, it’s one of the pillars of our business even though it really has little to do with the concept of cost auditing. By listening to our clients we discovered the value in being able to be their single point of contact for a technical support and services.

Tele-Watch evolved in much the same way. Companies need better control over their communications, period; most businesses will openly admit this. One crucial step to improve control is by acquiring timely, superior access to usage and spending information. This visibility gets crucial data to the right people in a timely fashion (not six months later). It drives accountability through the organization, because they know the nature of on what may be the largest business expense they face, as communications is quickly becoming one of the largest expenses possible for any company.

GILL Technologies responded with Tele-Watch: a proprietary software application hosted on the cloud and available from any web enabled device on a secure platform. Tele-Watch is absolutely amazing in how it presents important communications information. We developed it to let clients view their communications usage, expenses and services just the way they need to. Again, we improved a component of the service that really had little to do with the cost audit concept,  but again through our clients’ guidance we developed reporting tools that change the way a company manages communications.

So now, our challenge is to utilize what we created to grow our business. Bear in mind that our primary focus is to save companies money, however. We never want to lose sight of that mission. Tele-Watch is a software solution, but rather than take the typical approach of, “Let’s sell our software,” we made what I consider the bold statement of saying: “Lets give Tele-Watch to our prospective clients, let them feel the difference in single point of contact with ClientCare, and while this is occurring, show them how we can save them money. It’s a Win-Win-Win!”

OK, now I really sound like an advertisement! But when you think about our philosophy, it really makes sense beyond its raw promotional value. We save companies money. It’s our core mission. That’s why clients establish a relationship with us. Tele-Watch and ClientCare build relationships that last for years, if not indefinitely. So why not introduce people to the whole concept while we evaluate the benefit of the relationship in hard numbers?

That’s why we offer a Communication Management Free Trial, giving you the chance to sample our range of services as a prelude to securing long term savings and excellent service. I hope you can see beyond the sales pitch and appreciate the concept. I don’t know – did I fluff it up too much?

Like I said, North American business has changed, and you need the chance to make informed decisions, and today’s technology should allow it. Shouldn’t you able to test drive a service even at the enterprise level? What do you think?

An Open Letter to the CRTC: Telecommunications Security and Cost Liability

NOTE: On September 21, 2009, GILL Technologies President George Gill sent the letter below to John Traversy, the Executive Director of Telecommunications at the CRTC, concerning the onerous costs end users bear over telehacking-related charges. We believe it is part of our role as a telecom expense management firm to help protect clients from all unnecessary charges, including those stemming from third party fraud, an issue we’ve covered in the past.

We hope regulators will take appropriate steps to foster a safe, responsible telecom environment. To minimize your own risks, please remember to take appropriate end-user precautions. Change default login information and block unnecessary services whenever possible.

Mr. Traversy and the Commission,

For nearly a decade, GILL Technologies has worked in close partnership with major carriers, including Rogers, Bell and Telus. Thus, it is with great concern that I note recent events that underline the need for CRTC regulations protecting end users from fraudulent charges.

On January 2009, Burlington, ON law firm Martin and Hillyer suffered a $207,000 bill from Bell due to voice mail hacking from abroad. In August, boutique telecom wholesaler Telepath incurred over $100,000 in charges from Rogers over a similar attack

In both cases, carriers took the position that the onus lay with victims who had only a limited ability to monitor usage. In Telepath’s case, its CEO told the Canadian Press (“Stop fraudsters with limit on telephone special services charges, CRTC urged,” Julian Beltrame, Canadian Press, August 20th, 2009) that he did in fact contact Rogers. Allegedly, the carrier did not respond promptly.

Beyond basic, user-centric precautions such as strong passwords, responsibility for secure telecommunications obviously rests with carriers. Under the current regime, carriers suffer a conflict of interest where preventing fraud denies them charges to levy against end users. In other words, the CRTC’s failure to regulate in this area rewards carriers for inadequate security. Currently, there’s no difference between a dollar earned on third party fraud and one earned through legitimate services.

The current system doesn’t work. Informal resolution mechanisms waste time and money. In many cases, they don’t adequately protect end users. Therefore, I call on the CRTC to:

  1. Regulate carrier security practices, as carriers currently have no economic motive to implement best practices.
  2. Establish reasonable limits on end user and reseller liabilities for fraudulent charges.
  3. Implement a dispute resolution system that investigates and fairly distributes fraudulent charges based on each party’s actual responsibilities.

I believe it is not only necessary but practical to better regulate the fallout of fraud in Canadian telecom. I sincerely hope that the CRTC will provide a regulatory solution with an equitable, forward-looking ethos.

Thank you,

George Gill

President, GILL Technologies

Cc:  Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament for Peterborough

CRTC Urged to Deal with Telecom Fraudsters

Are carriers allowing fraudsters to attack third party providers?

Ottawa based long distance provider Telepath has asked the CRTC to step in and limit 1-900 service calls to $1000 without prior approval. This comes after Telepath, a line wholesaler, suffered $100,000 in fraudulent bills when hackers attacked two lines and used them to dial bogus pay per call numbers.

We’ve reported on carrier laxness regarding fraud before. Now someone has stepped up and plainly said that Bell, Rogers and other carriers can’t be trusted to protect clients from massive fraudulent billing. Of course that only makes sense – this kind of fraud doesn’t affect their bottom line. In fact, they’re adamant about getting paid. In Telepath’s case, Rogers is only willing to cut the massive bill by 20%. The provider may have to sue its clients for more.

In fact, Telepath’s claims read like a classic checklist of atrocious carrier service. Telepath CEO Dali Bertolila claims he noticed the fraud a couple of days after it occurred and called Rogers to stop payment. According to Bertolila, Rogers refused. So in this case, even client vigilance was useless. Worst of all, the Canadian Press article notes that Rogers claims that its can do nothing to monitor suspicious traffic patterns among third party providers.

Carrier interests appear to clash with the public good on several fronts in this case. When fraud hits, carriers like Rogers get paid. Furthermore, the big carriers know that third party providers exist in large part because of their problems, from erroneous billing to unsatisfactory service, so it’s kind of convenient that they can’t or won’t help in cases where hackers attack those providers. Telecom expense management and third party cellular customer service both exist because carriers won’t step up and provide the service and pricing people need. In this case, it seems to be obvious that Rogers, Bell and the rest are the last people to expect help from.

Five Reasons to Get Third Party Cellular Customer Service

How many times have you waited on hold with customer support? How many times have you recited an account number, re-explained your plan and information and generally wasted your time? How many times have you asked yourself if there’s a better way?

Well, there is a better way. That’s us, specifically the cellular customer service that comes with our cellular expense management services. We don’t just do the math to save you money. We want you to feel better about your cell phone plans, regardless of carrier. That’s why we feature dedicated customer support. Let’s look at five reasons why using us as a third party beats using standard carrier support.

We Fix Billing Errors: That’s part of our cellular expense management service, but it’s also a customer support issue. Have you ever tried to contest a suspicious bill with your provider? If so, you know how annoying it can be. We not only fix errors, but we find them for you in the first place.

We Know You: Tired of answering the same questions over and over again? Once you hire use to manage your cellular service you won’t have to. Our representatives get a chance to know you and don’t have to run you through a one-size-fits-all set of technical questions.

Multi-Carrier Support: You never have to call more than one number. We’ll deal with every carrier and service you use on your behalf. And since you’ll have a telecom expert dealing with carriers on your behalf, you don’t have to worry about calls being diverted or stalled.  We don’t allow it. If there’s a solution, we find it.

We Work for You – Not Them: Carrier-based support focuses on minimizing their cost. Our service focuses on getting you the best support. The difference is a simple and powerful one. We’ll pursue options like replacement handsets and service credits that carriers are reluctant to provide.

You Save Staff Time and Hassle: When your staff spends time on hold with a carrier that’s time they aren’t spending moving your business forward. Sign up with us and replace 20 minutes on hold (and then answering useless questions) with a five minute chat with someone who knows you, wants to help you and fights to get you the best deal. Which do you think is better for your business?

Did you know that you can get this at NO extra cost compared to what you’re paying now? As part of our telecom expense management services all of these benefits are part of a self-funded service. That means you only pay a portion of what you save – if you don’t save, you don’t pay. Get a free cost audit to start, and see how much better your savings and service can get.

GILL Technologies Ready to Help Businesses Conform to New Ontario Cellular Laws

Telecom Consultants Ready after Bill 118 Makes Hands-Free Cell Phone Use Mandatory in Automobiles

Peterborough, ON, Canada: GILL Technologies (http://www.gill-technologies.com) announced that it has prepared the hardware and telecom expense management expertise to help businesses with mobile phone fleets conform to the Ontario Government’s Bill 118. The law makes it punishable by fine to hand operate cell phones and other electronic devices with screens while operating a motor vehicle. Hands free use is permitted however, which puts many businesses in the position of having to acquire headsets and voice activated functionality for employees who routinely communicate by cell phone while driving.

The Peterborough, Ontario and Tampa, Florida based telecommunications consulting company was prepared for the bill’s passage on April 22, 2009 before then, had already performed a preliminary analysis of how companies that needed to conform to the law would be affected. GILL Technologies predicts an upsurge in demand for Bluetooth headsets and rich voice activated features delivered through a combination of hardware and cellular services. Canada’s transition to 3G smartphones requires that voice activated features not only encompass traditional telephony, but the ability to browse email. The company has also made arrangements with select suppliers to provide Bluetooth headsets at a considerable cost savings.

“Corporate cellular customers outside of Ontario should understand that the growing trend to ban handheld use while driving is likely to affect them as well,” said GILL Technologies president George Gill. “We not only urge people with mobile fleets in Ontario to upgrade to hands free use, but advise that companies everywhere that expect communications on the road do the same. It’s not only forward looking, but safer – that’s why the law came into effect in the first place.”

Interested parties can request a free initial cost analysis from GILL Technologies by visiting http://www.gill-technologies.com, emailing info@gill-technologies.com or calling 877-507-6988 toll-free. GILL Technologies accepts clients from across Canada and the United States.

About GILL Technologies

Established in 2000, GILL Technologies provides a “Total Communication Solution” for businesses of all sizes. Clients range from small businesses simply looking to save on their communications costs to large enterprises that want comprehensive solutions. Over 3000 clients across North America bear witness to the effectiveness of GILL Technologies’ products and services.Find out more about GILL Technologies’ communications services through its no-risk, money saving Cost Auditing service at http://www.gill-technologies.com/CostAudit.php

Five Problems to Control with Telecom Expense Management

How does telecom expense management save you money? Any fleet of phones can accumulate cost inefficiencies. Some of these happen because of the way carriers bill customers. Others stem from making less than optimal choices about cell phone plans, long distance billing and other telecom services. Here are five common issues that a professional telecom cost audit and expense management program can remedy. Â

Billing Errors: Analysts estimate that billing errors alone can add 6%, 8% or more to your communications costs. These errors are hard to detect; it takes an expert to tell whether many fees have been legitimately added or properly calculated. GILL Technologies performs a thorough examination of your company’s billing as part of your initial audit, and stays on top of your bills to head of future errors.

Excess Minutes and Data: Our Tele-Watch communications management software is an important tool to show you exactly what your needs are. In many cases, people opt for attractive looking plans that offer a large amount of voice minutes or data, but when they fail to use them, these plans end up making their bills larger than they would have been if they’d picked a plan that represented their true usage. We can help you discover what your real communications needs are and adapt your choice of plan and carrier to match.

Hardware Costs: Is the plan that subsidizes your hardware costs really saving you money? What’s the right smartphone for you? What are the advantages of buying a cell phone outright? Where can you get inexpensive headsets? We can answer all these questions so that you only purchase the most cost-effective hardware. Our telecom customer service and procurement team will not only help you pick a solution, but can order the hardware on your behalf, often with a significant savings thanks to preferred relationships with select suppliers in North America.

Inappropriate Usage: Tele-Watch doesn’t just help you understand your company’s needs, but lets you see exactly how much every department and individual in your business uses company resources. When your employees know that you have this information it deters inappropriate usage, and when you need to act, you have all the data to define the issue in dollars and cents. Doing it this way is the path to responsible management that minimizes confrontation.

Roaming Fees: When you leave your carrier’s coverage area do you have reasonable roaming fees? Do you have a choice? If you’re a heavy roaming user we can help you find a carrier that offers the best prices for the areas you expect to visit. Furthermore, our telecom customer service team can help guide you when you visit Europe or another part of the world with different telecom standards. You’ll be able to go virtually anywhere without losing contact.

Blackberry Takes Competition up a Notch with the App World

Blackberry opened its App World on April 1st, 2009, taking a leap into the kinds of personalized smartphone applications made popular by Apple’s iPhone. Now that competitors are rolling out touchscreen phones and people aren’t as dazzled by the style and technology, Apps are easily the most popular aspect of the iPhone. On the other hand, iPhone Apps tend to be more recreational than practical, in keeping with the phone’s popular image as a high tech toy. Blackberries have always been more business oriented. Will the App World reflect this?

Looking at App World’s featured Apps it looks like the initial rollout is designed to make new Blackberries full-featured internet devices. There are Apps for Facebook, AIM, Windows Live Messenger – all core internet applications. There are also news and entertainment media applications and even a few games, though these have a more serious focus than Apple counterparts. They’re the kinds of things that an executive wouldn’t mind being seen using during a break. They include business news, stress management games and tools to simplify travel.

The Blackberry’s serious image helps make it the first choice for enterprise-level smartphone procurement, and Research in Motion certainly little motive to change this, but there’s always the temptation of the wider consumer market, which models like the Curve have been steadily courting. Success will probably be found somewhere in between consumer fun and business utility because of the way people use company smartphones. The barriers between personal and business use are steadily eroding, as managers want employees to be constantly available, and employees want to use the phones they’re supposed to carry at all times for personal use.

For businesses though, the Blackberry still has one advantage: carrier flexibility. iPhones are wedded to exclusive plans in both Canada and the US, but every major carrier offers the Blackberry. This makes cellular expense management far more effective for the Blackberry. We can compare plans from multiple carriers using several metrics and find the best option for you – and with the App World, your on-call employees can get a few morale building applications, while you maintain total knowledge of their usage through our Tele-Watch Communications management software. They’re happier and you save money.

GILL Technologies on Twitter

We’ve finally made the leap to Twitter! Join GILL Technologies at http://twitter.com/GILL_Tech for daily updates on the telecommunications industry, telecom expense management, cell phone plans and services and other issues as we see them – along with anything else our official Twitterer thinks is relevant or interesting.

We’ve actually been aware of Twitter for some time. Our sister company GILL Media is a strategic internet marketing company that’s been researching and using Twitter for quite some time. In cost auditing and analysis, however, Twitter is not a tool, but a service we want interested clients to be able to use as inexpensively as possible. That’s why, for example, we covered the recent issues with Bell and Twitter.

Interested in telecom? Cell phones? Emerging communications technology? Add us – we’re always happy to meet someone new. If you have any questions about our company and its products or services, feel free to send them via Twitter and we’ll forward them to the appropriate department for reply. If your questions and comments are more than 140 characters, however, we recommend that you Contact us by our web form.

Google Voice: What Does It Mean for Telecom Expense Management?

Google Voice is one of the most exciting new developments in telecommunications services. Google has had a mixed record when it comes to entering the telecom market, but there’s no debate that it very much wants to be a part of that industry. Unfortunately for the company, it has only enjoyed mixed reception to its initiatives. Google 411 isn’t exactly the go-to for directory assistance. Google Android is an interesting development, but the attached phones haven’t overtaken the popularity juggernauts of the Blackberry and iPhone.Â

Google Voice is different. It doesn’t rely on any particular carrier and its services are free. The base technology seems to be former company Grand Central’s VoIP number forwarding service, which Google acquired in 2007. Users can receive calls at a specified phone whenever they get calls at a number assigned by the service. Google Voice is a significant expansion beyond voice forwarding, however. Features include web-based voicemail access, automatic transcription, conference calls, free VoIP calls, SMS functions and more. How will this affect telecom expense management?

All in all, it’s a formidable set of features that, if integrated into the right cell phone plan, promises to add numerous functions that might incur a significant cost if their equivalents were purchased from a provider. Will this actually translate to savings? It depends on how user friendly Google Voice is, and how well it fits users’ working needs. If you’re looking to save on company mobile expenses with Google Voice, you’ll want to try it out for personal calls first. Ask yourself whether Voice can support any part of your workflow that is currently occupied by pay services. Once you’ve figured that out you’ll know what you need in terms of pay services. After that, lowering your costs is a cellular expense management issue.Â

Unfortunately, as of the time of writing (March 13, 2009) Google Voice is only available to US customers – right now, former Grand Central users, though Google promises to make it generally available in a matter of weeks. If it takes off, it may not only offer a whole range of free “toys” for consumers, but might exert pressure on telecom service providers to change their offerings. If enough people know about it, you can’t charge for something Google’s giving away for free.

The Recession Slows Competition in the Canadian Wireless Market – Cellular Expense Management is More Important than Ever

Last October, Shaw Communications announced that it wouldn’t be furthering investment in wireless services. Shaw was a major bidder in last year’s AWS Spectrum auction. The CRTC sold off bandwidth across Canada, and every major communications company and several new entrants bought in. Shaw spent just under $190 million in the action: a formidable number, though not as impressive as Rogers bids totaling almost $1 billion. Shaw was poised to make some significant inroads, but that’s come to a halt as the recession has dampened new ventures.

Despite Shaw’s rights over 20 MHz from BC to Manitoba (though only 10 in Saskatchewan) the company said that due to uncertain times ahead, it wouldn’t be rolling out what was no doubt planned: an aggressive entry into Western Canada’s wireless market. Like many smaller players, Shaw is probably incapable of carrying debts to cover the initial rollout. According to Wireless Week telecom investment analyst Imari Love tentatively estimates that many smaller enterprises will push their plans back to 2010 or 2011.

Meanwhile, it looks like budget consumer brands like Koodo (Telus) and Fido (Rogers) are set to make major inroads – a situation that makes sense, given that most Canadians will be looking for bargain cell phone plans as their household income feels the recession squeezing their pocketbooks. In general, pay as you go services will probably see a boost from consumers who feel less secure in their ability to make regular payments.

Unfortunately, these growth sectors have little to offer businesses, whose complex service and billing needs can’t be served by budget providers. In these cases it looks like the recession will work against them, as major providers look for more revenue. Now that the expected competition will be delayed by at least a year, telecom expense management solutions should be seen as a practically mandatory step to save money in the face of expected fee increases. Key areas for consideration will be billing errors and contract analysis to fend off unreasonable cost increases.