Expense Management in Telecom

Expense Management systems typically refers to the management information systems adopted by a business enterprises to process, pay, control and audit all expenses that the firm may incur during its day to day functional life. This may include programs like integrated financial management systems which will make it simpler to keep track of costs and help keep your business ahead of problems. Expense management teams govern the policies and procedures for every spending, as well as the technologies and services utilized to process and analyze the data associated with it, and is expected to have a huge impact on the bottom line of the firm.

Most average Fortune 500 company spends more than $100 million on telecommunications services each year. This arises predominantly from communication that may happen internally (Often 40%-60%) and with external stake holders (20% – 40%) Yet, on average, 7 to 12 % of telecom expenses are in surplus of what they could have been brought down to. This means that there is a high possibility of lowering costs by upto even $10 million each year! Think about all the revenue generating opportunities that could be funded with that money and the possible impact such a cost saving may have on the bottom-line of the firm.

It is interesting to understand how the Telecommunications Management Network facilitates the organizations consuming these services to achieve these goals.  This framework enhances the operations management within the service provider, and expense management systems play an integral role in these systems.

Communications tools, such as wireless and wired connections, are crucial in managing the organizational day to day functionalities, communicate with the employees, liaison solid relationships with the customers, suppliers and business partners. Yet, firms are  often forced to delay new communications projects that could give them a competitive advantage using ICTs, such as Voice over IP, because it’s difficult to accurately forecast labor and infrastructure costs.  implementing a proactive Telecom Expense Management program can help defray those costs.  With the telecom managed service from IT Service providers like IBM, Oracle, Infosys, the firms now-days can look beyond just cost savings and implement business process improvements through innovative adoption of communication technologies.
The best part about these services are that they are outsourced completely to the service providers and billing is done entirely based on how much the firms plan to use the benefits of such a service. It means, firms will pay a small percentage based on the dollar benefit they get out of such an engagement. They are completely priced based on usage. (Read   Pricing of Information Technology)

Firms will be able to utilize the business intelligence sometimes bundled with such services to optimize network price/ performance, plan network strategies, forecast spend and justify telecom expense decisions to your management team.

Supply Chain Management Basics

In this article, we take you on a tour on the very basic focus of supply chain management. While there are many articles, which talk about the intricacies, the sole focus of this article is to cover all the various aspect an opening class for a grad program is likely to address.

There are few issues which are of prime importance while studying the subject. Before, one can call oneself conversant with the discipline, one needs to ask himself,  can he answer the questions in details regarding these aspects? This article is off course written more on lines of a strategic view point rather than an implementer ‘ s viewpoint.

  • Distribution Network Configuration: This is related to the number and location of suppliers, production facilities, distribution centers, warehouses and customers.
  • Distribution Strategy: This is related to the centralized versus decentralized issue, direct shipment, cross docking, pull or push strategies, and third party logistics.
  • Information: This is related to integration of  systems and processes through the supply chain to share valuable information, including demand signals, forecasts, inventory and transportation etc.
  • Inventory Management: How should one manage stored quantity and decide the location of inventory including raw materials, work-in-process and finished goods.
  • Cash-Flow: Arranging the payment terms and the methodologies for exchanging funds across entities within the supply chain.

Focus: Customer, cost saving, value adding, time from cash to cash, percentage of fill rate against customer specifications and total response times

The extension of the supply chain definition is to provide a context for measurement or to operationalize theoretical concepts. Existing definitions may not always explicitly provide a basis for measurement. The development of new measures and the development of new benchmarks, based on these measures; in developing the new measurement format, various aspects of the supply chain definition can be expected to affect the specific mix of measures used.

It is important to understand that the position of players in the chain (supplier, manufacturer, wholesaler, service supplier) affects their contribution and relevant measures, the level of integration and the strategic approach may affect the relevance of measures needs to be scrutinized. Creating benchmarks based on the new measurement systems may contribute to directing management effort in optimizing the supply chain. Thus this is of prime importance to a supply chain manager.

Also, the development of tools that can help support the implementation of the new measurement approach may be a crucial final step leading to the actual application of new measurement approaches. The tools cannot be limited to the measurement system itself; they also need to include strategic trade-off and planning frameworks in order to assure executive “buy-in” and commitment and initiate actual improvement processes in the supply chain.

Finally some finer aspects to ponder for supply chain managers while attempting to operationalize theoretical models.

  • Whether the models are qualitative or quantitative will affect the plans.
  • What they measure is of paramount importance: cost and non-cost; quality, cost, delivery, resource utilization, flexibility, visibility, trust and innovativeness
  • Collaboration efficiency and coordination efficiency and configuration and input, output and composite measures.
  • Their strategic, operational or tactical focus.
  • The process in the supply chain they relate to.

These are some of the basics that a supply chain manager is expected to plan about while going about his job. By the way, did you read our article on Supply Chain Value Management

Office Cartoons – Coffee Break

Some of our colleagues always seem busy loitering around the coffee vending machine. Despite their apparently not working as hard as some of the others, they always seem to do just great. What can be their secret success story?

The road to success is not an easy one to travel. To achieve it, some professionals work hard, others work smart. Which one would you prefer?

Top Social Media Marketing Channels

In an independent survey conducted by Business Fundas, the top channels as perceived by social media marketers were identified and ranked. For this study, the over 20,000+ twitter followers (and also other social media marketers on twitter) were presented with a questionnaire for understanding the perceived importance of the various media for these marketing experts with a conversion of 1034 respondents for the study. Based on the results, the following results were obtained:

The top social media marketing channel based on our survey results was search engine. It performed extremely well as a channel to improve brand or service or product awareness, as well as a channel to improve conversion rates from potential leads to actual customer engagement.

The results for the best channel for creation of awareness for the service or products are as displayed in the graph below:

As these results indicate, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance in terms of a channel to increase service or product or brand awareness.

Similarly, the top social media resources to convert potential customers to buyers are as follows:

As is evident from the results of the graph, the top resource, as perceived by the social media marketers in both cases are search engines. This was closely followed by Facebook and Youtube. However, some of the more popular and initially perceived important social media channels like Twitter, Digg, Reditt, Stumbleupon received lesser votes in confidence when it came to actual performance. Maybe since these are perceived as more of a media for capturing interesting sources of stories and / or multimedia, they are losing their importance as channels of social media marketing.

Do let us know what are your feedback about the social media marketing channels. How do YOU draw traffic to your blog? Is that a sustainable source of traffic or does that depend on daily marketing efforts and link exchanges amongst colleagues to promote your content? Do let us know.

Am I SICK?

Is the title giving a blow!! You must be thinking what is this!! “Am I SICK?” No, I am fit and fine. Who says I am sick !! Whoever is telling, he is sick!! And why I will be!! –No Not All.— I know this is what is going on in your mind – am I right!!

 

Let’s give some time for ourselves. Let’s realize ourselves. Let’s give a blow in our inner mind- let’s give a shock in our everyday behavior. I am telling you- you will find yourself in ICU. Shocked !! I know you are. But this is a bitter truth.

Trust me- find out some time for analysis. See who you are, what you are doing, how you are doing and for whom you are doing. Are you actually working!! Working hardly or smartly!! Or just running after money. Dream is big money- big house- costly car; A luxury life. If you are already enjoying- still you want more!! Right!! And if you are a struggler or gradually making your career- still dream remains the same. Going through the same rat-race. Right! Have you ever though to find five minutes for the needy person standing beside you! Have you ever extended your hand when you saw a blind person struggling to find his way on the road where you just passed him giving a veered look? Have you ever gone to help the person who just met with an accident!! Probably No. And if at all your friend suggested going, you said No No!! This can be a police case!! So let us be safe and keep ourselves away. I know you are remembering when you did that. Probably you thought to go but your friend suggested the same. Right!! Have you ever thought to just get up from the seat and let the old person sit there –who is just standing beside you!! You are just happy that somehow you managed a seat. Good if you have done. But probably you will find the answer ‘No’ if you ask yourself.

You must be thinking – how does these make a difference in your life. Your life is cool- and it will be as cool as it is. Right!! You are absolutely right. And if you are thinking in this way- you can’t be blamed for this. Because the value system you are in or the value system you are inculcating into your  next generation – this is quite natural. You don’t have time. But think once. Instead of the person met with an accident; you have met with the same accident! And people are reacting in the same manner and you are just   lying-down  helplessly on the road. How will you feel!! Good !! !! No ; right!! You will expect help from the persons probably whom you did not help when they required oneday!! Right!! If everybody will think the way you think- then imagine what will be your situation on the road after your accident. But do you think that you were not capable of helping the person. Were you sick that day!! You were too sick to talk with the person or hold the hand of that blind person!! No !! But Yes – I will say- you were SICK. Mentally you were SICK. Otherwise a healthy and Ok mind would have instructed you the right thing. Your mind would not have stopped you from helping. Or your mind would not have stay untouched in spite of seeing the blood-stained person lying on the road. It clearly shows that we are fine, but our mind is not. It’s not well. It’s SICK.

 

Find some time to think. Think – are you doing right!! Think are you inculcating the right value into your kids!! Because if you are giving such value to your child – definitely when you will require help, the person who will be standing beside you probably with the same value like your kid- will not help- because they never realized this thought.

It’s never a late. Beginning of anything is good. Let’s think and start realizing. Let’s start making a difference. Let us take our society towards a better one- a cultured- value added healthy and humane society.

Brief Profile of Author : Amitava Pal is a Software Engineer and XLRI Alumni. His special areas of interests are Human Psychology and Soft Skills. He has been writing papers since 2005 and the papers have already been published in India and Abroad like University of California, Bonn University Germany and so on. He is currently writing a book on “Typical Human Psyche on Differential Behaviour”.

Business Cartoon – Survival during recession

So what would you do if your firm is facing problems from lowered revenue generation due to a dip in market conditions? If your boss breathing fire over your back, especially if you are in the sales division? Possibly although you are doing your best, still the sales of the company is dipping. Even if the general conditions of the market is bad, there is so little you can do.

Always remember, when the going gets tough, that is the actual time when the tough gets going. And tough people always survive the hard times and eventually emerge as winners.

Indian Telecom Sector – Market Analysis

In this report we try to provide some information of the Indian Telecom Sector in June, 2011, based on secondary research. The boom phase for Indian telecom market continues to thrive on the availability of cheaper telecom services alongside an aggressive marketing strategy by the service providers. The growth phase is panning out across India and is not just limited to urban India. While the customer satisfaction has increased substantially in 2010 and 2011, as per a survey done by TRAI, the profitability of the sector has decreased substantially in 2011.

While the market continues to be led by Bharti Airtel, in terms of market share by revenue, it is closely followed by Vodafone and the relative younger player, Idea Cellular. BSNL is continuing to witness a sharp decline in its subscriber base, with probably the highest ever telecom churn in the industry.

One of the major causes while the telecom operators have seen such a mixed bag of fortune is due to the introduction of the Mobile number portability (MNP).  Due to the introduction of this service via regulation, customers will be able carry their mobile number across service providers in India. The biggest affected service providers had been Reliance and BSNL, while Airtel has been the leading gainer from this exercise.

Services marketing strategy

Typically marketing of services is done following the services marketing mix using the 7 Ps framework unlike the marketing of products for which the marketing mix involves the 4 Ps framework. Today, marketing has evolved over time into a discipline of its own. Over time marketing managers have realized the sustainability of pull marketing than the traditional approach of push marketing strategies.

The initial movement in marketing strategies was from a direct marketing scenario to brand marketing. In direct marketing, the marketing managers typically had a role of sales managers and the most important strategic focus was to ensure a incentive structure for the sales force, both internal salesmen and external salesforce (dealers, retailers, distributors) such that the one-to-one marketing could be done at the point of sales. However, it was realized that if a fraction of the sales force deviated or moved to another firm, the entire customer segment was lost to the business. The face of the product or service was essentially the sales force. Now as services gained in importance, it was realized that the differentiation of services was even more difficult based on tangible features like that of a product. This was when brand marketing started getting its due importance, where a pull strategy was implemented so as to “pull” the customer to the product or service based on his perception of the quality of the same.

However, with services gaining prominence over time, it was realized that the very definition of services was evolving as more and more services were being focused on internet or info-tech based services where direct interaction with the customer was lost. While branding definitely ensured that the customers develop a brand association with the service, sometimes the nature of the service is such that the essence of the service is a transactional one. So brand marketing focus gradually started to shift towards customer engagement and the benefits of social networks started getting conceptualized. This paved the way for the next generation of marketing, namely marketing using social media.

Since services cannot be differentiated purely based on features on offer, the major differentiation to create a brand association and thus customer engagement, is through tapping the social networks. In the internet economy, social networks are getting increasingly dominated by social media and thus marketing managers of even larger traditional “brick and sell” firms have started recognizing this fact and focusing their efforts on social media marketing.

The 7 S framework for digital marketing started gaining in prominence for services marketing strategists. While the dynamics of a pure internet marketing strategy is slightly different, the essence of the same has been captured in more comprehensive frameworks on digital marketing, which have been derived purely through the theories based on economic rationality.

Over time, it was realized that social media is perhaps the biggest tool today to lead a brand marketing strategy for many of the services and product categories, since in both cases, the target segment often uses the internet as a source of information (through websites or though the personal social network) while deciding on a service vendor. It is at the point of information search that social media marketing can create the largest impact and thus builds its reputation for having a high impact on “brand recall” at the “point of purchase”.

Do let us know if you have any feedback regarding this article.