The Evolution of Telecom Expense Management
John Venditti leads Sakon’s award-winning professional services and support team. A 25-year veteran of the TEM, MMS, and technology expense management space, John has built a stellar reputation for listening to – and understanding – clients’ business needs, ensuring deployment of the Sakon platform is completed on time and on spec, while delivering strategic value.
1. Industry analysts talk a lot about how TEM is changing, noting that TEM is moving beyond fixed-line “telecom” to include enterprise mobility and SaaS management, among other areas. What are you seeing?
I look at TEM broadly and liken it to CRM. In the early days of customer relationship management software, it was all about the contact database, but CRM quickly evolved to encompass everything that touched the customer, including sales, support, and marketing – a complete value chain. My money is on TEM continuing to evolve in a similar way, delivering value not just across the enterprise’s wireline and mobility assets, but also across SaaS, DaaS, and any other “X” as a service assets. This is inclusive of the entire end-user experience, back-office management of these assets, and the security considerations that operating in the cloud and beyond a company’s firewall bring into play.
That said, many old-school TEM players haven’t digested this yet. TEM is not just a tactical, cost-cutting tool, and those who see it and position it that way limit the value we can deliver to the enterprise, hurting our entire industry. That kind of thinking is why many of the large enterprises Sakon now works with are onto their fourth or even fifth TEM engagement.
2. Why has it taken so many attempts for the enterprise to get TEM right?
I think it has been the mindset of TEM providers as much as anything that has led to a disconnect with their customers. As I mentioned, there are a lot of people in this industry who have been in it a long time and see it a certain way. TEM players have sold “savings” to the enterprise for years, promising that they could do it better than the incumbent. And sometimes they could deliver on that promise, and other times they couldn’t. But whether or not they delivered, they were limiting themselves from the outset.
To me that’s all a case of looking through the wrong end of the telescope, pigeonholing TEM as a tactical, cost-cutting tool. And the harm that did was magnified by providers not listening to their clients and really understanding their business needs. This type of hard sell and winning on savings can at best deliver incremental gains. Those gains might be enough for the telecom manager that brought you into the engagement, but not enough for a VP of IT, CIO, or even CFO, to see the strategic value TEM can provide.
That’s where Sakon is really getting traction, at that more senior level, because we not only deliver cost-savings, we identify the enterprise’s strategic business goals and align how we configure and implement Sakon to achieve those strategic goals. This approach provides a holistic way of managing the entire value chain – a whole swath of asset types and capabilities – that makes it easier to see and manage the whole environment. This makes it possible for enterprises to leverage Sakon and the strategic information and business intelligence we deliver to run their business better.
3. It sounds like enterprise customers’ expectations of TEM have changed?
Enterprise customers, particularly those with complex environments, deserve a lot of credit. They’ve figured this out. They understand now that fixed-line, mobile, SaaS apps, security, and “the network,” are all interconnected. A solution to manage them all – a single platform like Sakon’s – makes a lot of sense to them. They see the light at the end of the tunnel.