Taming the Beast of Wireless Expenses

With the proliferation of mobile devices, ranging from smart phones and tablets to wireless data cards, mobile costs are competing with, and in some cases surpassing, wireline costs. So what’s a bank technology leader to do to tame the cost of the mobile revolution?

CIOs and their IT departments have their hands full trying to manage device standardization and the associated user support, while also balancing the need to ensure network security from these new, possibly-vulnerable network nodes, at all costs. This latter hurdle is not easy, considering the plethora of platforms – for most enterprises, long gone are the days of standardizing on one carrier, one operating system and a couple of supported devices. With the executive wanting the latest iPhone; the loan officer wanting his Blackberry; and the branch manager wanting her Android device; it’s a management challenge, to say the least.

Due to limited resources, cost management and ongoing cost optimization tend to fall by the wayside for most already-stretched bank IT departments. Given the circumstances, Wireless Expense Management (WEM) has become a must-have tool for any IT department to effectively manage wireless spend and inventory.

The first hurdle to overcome in managing wireless spend is invoice nomenclature and format across multiple carriers. Not all carriers call the same widget by the same name; furthermore, each carrier provides a different invoice format and associated details. It is up to the IT or Telecom Manager to decipher the idiosyncrasies of that carrier, and work through the respective reporting, especially when the organization is driven to support multiple providers to gain ubiquitous coverage and ensure user productivity. A WEM platform provides the bank’s IT professional a normalized invoice format, regardless of carrier, underlying invoice format or ‘widget’ naming convention. Moreover, the WEM platform will tie the charges on the invoice back to the employees and associated devices, affording the IT professional the ability to better understand and reconcile the charges.

Which brings us to invoice reconciliation – the carriers make significant profits off unassigned phone plans or wireless data plans for terminated employees that get overlooked. Without the right tools, the IT or Telecom Manager has no means of tying inventory and plan contracts back to active resources within the organization, especially when limited to going through stacks of paper, or navigating multiple carrier web portals with disparate reporting capabilities. Along the same lines, the carriers make significant profits off domestic roaming charges, international roaming, as well as app and ringtone purchases. In order to correct employee behavior and avoid these runaway costs, the process of identifying these outliers can prove to be very time consuming, especially when dealing with multiple carriers. A WEM platform provides the IT professional reporting that shows active and inactive devices and plans; it highlights these outliers automatically, saving the organization both time and money, and arming the IT professional with the right tools to avert or minimize future recurrences of the problem.

By virtue of having a system that ties charges and plans to active employees, and trends that data over time, WEM enables the firm to ensure that its contracts meet its needs. The new-found visibility afforded by WEM allows the firm to determine what devices have what plans; whether those plans meet the users’ needs; and how to best optimize the plans to control costs and improve the firm’s bottom line.

Smartphone sales topped PC sales for the first time ever in 2011, according to Forbes, further cementing the notion that these network-enabled devices are no longer standalone business tools, and no longer a small fraction of a bank’s IT costs. The only way that a CIO can succeed in taming this fast-expanding and costly business expense, is by leveraging the right management tools and adopting a WEM strategy.

Liz Carroll, an 18-year veteran telecom advisor, is a Business Development Manager with vCom Solutions. vCom revolutionizes the way banks manage their entire telecom lifecycle. vCom customers gain control over inventory, expenses and carrier relationships, achieving better business intelligence that drives profitability. vCom’s Telecom Management as a Service (TMaaS) solution includes a suite of cloud-based telecom management software tools, complemented by a full portfolio of professional services. For more information, visit http://vcomsolutions.com

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