The Evolution of Telecom Expense Management: From Copper POTS to Modern Solutions

The plain old telephone service (POTS) is an endangered species in South Africa, with MyBroadband estimating that only around 12,000 ADSL lines were still in use as of late 2023. This marks a sharp decline from more than 1 million ADSL subscribers in 2016 and highlights the rapid digital transformation of South Africa’s telecom sector.

The migration from legacy copper networks to modern fibre and cutting edge technologies such as 5G is, for the most part, positive news for South African businesses. Not only has it cleared the way for them to adopt more cost-effective voice-over-IP services, it has also enabled them to take advantage of the flexibility and new-age features of converged networks.

However, the changes in the ICT landscape over the past 10 years mean that the environment is more complex than ever. Enterprises today are spoilt for choice, with more vendors and service providers to select from than ever before. While the competition is welcome, it is not always easy to compare, manage and optimise different fixed-line and wireless propositions.

From MPLS to SD-WAN in South Africa

Along with the shift towards fibre and next-generation wireless technologies, most companies have shifted from legacy networking technologies such as MPLS to software-defined architectures. Cutting edge software defined wireless area networks (SD-WANS) are cost-effective and flexible, freeing companies from owning and running expensive proprietary hardware.

But building a SD-WAN may involve using fixed and wireless services from multiple service provider networks. Managing these multiple suppliers and monitoring their compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) can quickly become a headache without the right software tools in place.

Furthermore, the rise of the mobile and workforce has added new nuances into the mix. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen sharp increase in 4G and 5G usage. The advent of usage models such as bring your own device (BYOD) introduce new challenges in smarter management chargebacks, reimbursements and cost allocations.

Another factor that has come into play is the rise of the cloud, which helps companies to innovate faster and become smarter in how they deploy their capital. In a cutting edge hybrid and multi-cloud world, many organisations are struggling to come to grips with their variable computing costs. Use cases for edge computing are also multiplying.

Added together these trends mean that the nuances of managing a modern ICT environment are more intricate than ever before. The convergence of IT and telecoms has created a range of complex cost optimisation challenges for most large and mid-sized enterprises. Solutions that provide a single view of technology costs and performance have become indispensable.

How TEM solutions simplify ICT management

Telecom expense management (TEM) tools and practices can help businesses to simplify their operations. Cutting edge TEM solutions give businesses a holistic view of the costs and performance of their entire ICT footprint. As the offerings from telecoms and cloud providers become more complex, these solutions provide visibility, automation and control.

Organisations use TEM to gain a live view of telecom costs—including physical assets such as handsets and tablets as well as fixed-line, mobile and data services—irrespective of which charge-back and reimbursement models are in the mix. They also benefit from reporting tools to evaluate service providers and negotiate favourable terms with vendor and providers.

TEM enables a business to simplify processes—from smarter verification of invoices for cost allocation, charge-back and identification of billing errors or discrepancies to automation of workflows for procurement, provisioning, and decommissioning of computing and telecoms resources.

As digital transformation continues to accelerate, smarter organisations will seek FinOps and telecom expense management solutions that can keep up. Knowledgeable procurement, finance and IT teams will look for a cutting edge, cloud-native solution designed to centralise management of technology expenses.

Working with a trusted partner with deep experience in DevOps, FinOps, and Cloud Security and Networking can help you to navigate the risks and unlock the opportunities of digital transformation. Get in touch to learn how our team can help you unlock the benefits of digital transformation and guide a cost savings journey for your business.

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