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There is probably no industry that has changed more radically nor become more complex as quickly as the communication industry. Just 20 years ago, on the eve of deregulation, one large company provided both hardware and services and company managers were focused on scrutinizing phone bills to make sure that employees didn’t use expensive long distance for personal calls.

Those were the good old days.

Today long distance may be cheap but managers have an infinitely more challenging task as they oversee complex networks that integrate voice, data and global Internet needs and try to craft an efficient and cost-effective telecommunications strategy. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing task since the industry is changing so quickly and even the best-designed networks can quickly become outdated as new technologies and competitive opportunities arise.

While most professionals in this area are very competent, in the daily process of operating these intricate networks few have the luxury to research and take advantage of the latest technological or business opportunities. Their job is further complicated because telecom is an evolving industry and the company with the best price or most impressive features today may not be here tomorrow.

A cottage industry of telecommunications auditors has grown to try and help executives and telecom managers fill this void. These auditors find the inevitable telecom provider billing mistakes, which in large companies can often total tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Telecom consultants offer their expertise to help companies design their networks or negotiate with vendors on their behalf when new services are needed– and, this can be a valuable service if the consultants are truly unbiased and unaffiliated with any service, hardware or network provider.

But while executives often call in outside help to help design their initial system, unless there is a major external change, such as a relocation or merger, they rarely bring in external resources to assess or optimize their telecom architecture and/or services to take advantage of new opportunities. This is a shame because in my experience virtually every company can realize tremendous savings by evaluating what is currently in place and comparing that to what is currently available.

Let me give you a simple example. Most companies have a dedicated line for their alarm system. The line is used for two calls a day – opening and closing an office. The line typically costs $30. This line can be converted to standby service. This costs 50 percent less, saving $15 a month.


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