Chopping Down Wireless CostsBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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IT technology costs money, and it costs a lot to sell it, too. A new breed of software vendors and services are coming to market with tools that will save solution providers money in operations and sales.
And if e-invoicing isn’t quite painful enough, ask your customers how sure they are that they’re giving employees a cost-effective, efficient wireless communications plan. On a typical corporate wireless plan, only about 44 percent of the costs go towards the actual usage; the rest are provider fees and various taxes, says Tom Pepe, CEO of wireless auditing software provider Validas. While there’s not much that can be done about tax rates and mandatory fees, ensuring that usage, rates and arbitrary fees are correctly billed can mean huge cost savings.
Validas’ software can also do a cross-provider comparison so customers can easily see which provider offers the most cost-effective plans or the best functionality for its needs. In some cases, says Pepe, wireless expenses can be cut by as much as 35 percent.
"We identify errors in the call detail. Do the minutes add up right? Are customers charged the correct tax rate? Are they billing under the correct rating period? Then we look at the customer’s actual usage and use that information along with a cross-market comparison to show them the best plan," he says.
Schooley Mitchell, North America’s largest franchised telecommunications consulting company, is currently licensing Validas’ technology to use as part of the consulting firm’s automated wireless expense management system for its 70 franchises and their customers, says Dennis Schooley, co-founder of Schooley Mitchell.
Schooley says that while there are obvious benefits for wireless telecom customers, the providers also benefit from bill auditing and optimization, since using Schooley Mitchell helps resolve billing disputes more quickly and cost-effectively.
"We optimize our clients telecom by recovering overcharges and performing dispute resolution. Our technology can auto-generate e-mails to providers that include information about the billing dispute and options to resolve it," says Schooley. "The average cost to a provider for one of our e-mails is 3 cents; but to settle a dispute by phone is about $9," says Schooley.
While at first glance there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity for generating ongoing revenue streams using Validas technology, Pepe says that couldn’t be further from the truth.
With more than 200 business wireless plans across numerous carriers, and companies downsizing, hiring or switching plans, solution providers offering telecom optimization services are always finding new business opportunities.
"Especially in the [fiscal] fourth quarter, people are gearing up for the new business year, not to mention that the carriers’ plans, phone and mobile devices are always changing – also, as business people travel more or less, their calling patterns change," he says.