Who Should You Trust? Modern Telecom Expense Management

November 11, 2013

Carriers and mobile manufacturers are getting into the telecom expense and mobile device management business. It is undeniable that a company’s mobile fleet is one of its most important strategic assets, so whom should management trust to give them the most objective and insightful financial consultation?

Economics 101 teaches that fundamental to the free market is the profit-growth of a diverse set of businesses. When this positive growth occurs across the board, it is of course, a very good thing and forms the very basis of our economy. But also fundamental to the free market is the independence of these companies to build unique architectures of profitability. In the TEM realm, carrier and manufacturer bottom-lines may never coalesce into an agreement with your company’s bottom line. These fundamental economic principles are why objective, third-party TEM is so important in this modern era of strategic enterprise mobility.


Carriers like AT&T and Verizon are now promising stand-alone services to report on enterprise telecom usage and costs. These services allow the viewing of reports prior to billing dates and are actionable to “potentially reduce expenses,”  “spot trends to redefine policies and plans and align telecom service with user needs” and even to “enable increased employee productivity and creativity.” These services sound helpful because isn’t it great that you are getting it “straight from the horse’s mouth”?

The downsides of trusting these massive providers are myriad but the standout issues involve trusting complicated systems that need to drastically subsidize smart phones with all new contracts/upgrades (their bread and butter). Carriers today also have monumental infrastructures coupled with intricate invoicing systems; the most apt comparison of how carriers operate would be to modern utility companies. Both of these characteristics create an untrustworthy manager of telecom expense. It will never be in a carrier’s best interest to save you money: Carrier profit-margins are roller-coasters.


With the media spotlight consistently shining on mobile mega-manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Google, and Apple it is easy to stare wide-eyed at the consistent mass-production of the great devices we all use and love. Does this frenzied business-model qualify mobile manufacturers with the delicate fiscal work of rate plan analysis and device inventory spend? Manufacturers are in the business of more-phones-in-hands-the-better and this strategy is a wonderful prerogative that feeds the free market and creates healthy diversity of consumer choice. But think of the mixed motives and possible occluding of objectivity that is possible with a device manufacturer presenting cost-saving/optimization analysis.

 Third-Party TEM Providers

Ethical telecom expense managers show when and how you can operate with less carrier and manufacturer and not more. Carriers’ business comes from more and more lines active to be billed monthly while fighting the necessity to subsidize phones when they upgrade and add new lines. Manufacturers’ end-goals are a little more difficult to understand as they attempt to bolster other services with the proliferation of internet-enabled phones. An objective third-party look at a company’s usage, procurement, and implementation is pivotal to mobile cost-savings and responsible device management. Whom should you trust?

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