How Will Artificial Intelligence Change Telecom Expense Management?

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Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s radar right now. And for those of us in the technology sector of the enterprise world, it’s unavoidable, and that’s okay. It’s just something that will start demanding increased attention. So, it makes sense to start digging deeper into this area. 

From now on, you will want to include this topic of inquiry in discovery sessions with any prospective third-party telecom/technology expense management provider you engage.  

For example, here are some basic questions you will want to keep front and center in your mind: 

Fundamental Artificial Intelligence Questions

Are you presently using artificial intelligence within your platform? 

If so, how are you presently using artificial intelligence within your platform? 

Can you elaborate on how artificial intelligence has made your systems/processes more effective? 

In what ways will you be looking to harness artificial intelligence to improve your systems/processes further in the future? 

Like adding a generational talent number one draft pick to your favorite sports team, Artificial intelligence will be a sensational difference-maker, so you want to keep your finger on the AI pulse going forward. 

Will Artificial Intelligence Revolutionize Telecom Expense Management?

For those with experience in the TEM world, it will be obvious why AI will have an incredible impact from now on. The worldwide enterprise marketplace is filled with complexity and large volumes of data (e.g., employees, vendors, services, plan options, charges, locations, etc.). These factors have historically posed major challenges for large enterprises, giving rise to the telecom expense management industry. 

Since its inception in the 1990s, the telecom expense management industry has been able to develop technology platforms, systems, and talent bases to help companies more effectively deal with these challenges and scale expense management solutions.  

So, large companies that partnered with reputable telecom expense management firms fared much better than most of their behind-the-curve counterparts who tried to employ ad hoc or otherwise less sophisticated homegrown solutions. 

We are now entering the next stage of TEM development. 

Artificial Intelligence: The Next Evolution in Telecom Expense Management

Like this previous trend whereby large companies understood that they needed outside help if they were going to do telecom expense management right, it’s now going to be just as important to partner with a TEM firm that wholeheartedly embraces artificial intelligence to supercharge its technology and program capabilities. 

Nowadays, artificial intelligence should be included as part of the solution of any reputable expense management firm.  

It’s in its early stage of development, but it’s here. It’s in use to varying degrees with different TEM providers. And it will evolve exponentially fast. It should now be considered in all your TEM considerations in the future. It’s fair to say that it will revolutionize the industry in every way regarding the speed of processing complex analytical tasks.  

Let’s look at some crucial ways artificial intelligence will supercharge the TEM industry and take the next evolutionary step forward. 

4 Ways Artificial Intelligence Will Boost Telecom Expense Management Performance

1. The technology platform will be exponentially more responsive to organizational needs

Even before the recent explosion of AI, contemporary TEM technology platforms have evolved to such a degree that trying to do enterprise expense management work without one is akin to bringing a clenched fist to a gunfight.  

AI will be booster-rocketing these already powerful technological capabilities in ways we can imagine but, to date, have not yet been achievable without AI. Let’s consider a few examples:

SQL coding capabilities: Major efficiencies will be gained within a platform’s ability to optimize and streamline its coding, supporting a wide range of functions that determine overall TEM program effectiveness. AI will push the envelope in developing the best-supporting code for whatever the technological expense management function is.  

Specifically, consider invoice processing: AI will quickly gain the ability to refine coding instructions to support common tasks around invoice cost flagging parameters. It will make complex comparisons in milliseconds; the platform can compare invoice charges to all pertinent contract terms at the speed of light.  

Present technology capabilities are already strong (e.g., we have this type of capability at Tellennium, but AI is accelerating capabilities much further) but need more human involvement than will be the case soon, say, within the next year or two. 

Monitoring of usage: Consider all the data reams that current TEM platforms can house. Current technology capabilities to develop and view trending are excellent, but they will even explode exponentially beyond acceptable and strong effectiveness, which is where we are now.  

Monitoring usage is important for a variety of reasons. The most basic concerns are alignment to service/plan parameters and fraud, two things that all expense management leaders must concern themselves with. 

AI can model all types of complex scenarios humans dictate within milliseconds. Minutes could be considered long, given the power of AI. And hours might seem like a lifetime, although tolerable, especially for extremely complicated scenarios. (It theoretically could take a human(s) a year or more – if ever – to try to perform the same level of analysis.) 

Given the current ability to house incredibly large amounts of very granular data, AI will finish the job and soon provide the ability to meaningfully analyze and model this data almost instantly, which is critical for any top-tier expense management program as we advance. 

Optimization for services and plans: This is like what has been outlined around usage. Think of all the access to data for your current services. Think of all the complexities around available carrier services and plans within the marketplace. (The external data involved here is enormous as well.) 

To say that there is a lot to consider here is an understatement. For those who have performed these types of optimization analyses for large enterprises in the past, you know it is overwhelming. And it takes a long time to do well, even for the most knowledgeable and skilled analysts. 

AI can generate complex models from all existing data to help skilled and experienced analysts get digestible and meaningful forms of information instantaneously. This will enable them to jump out of the weeds and into the clouds for the best decision-making perspective. 

Human beings will still be involved. But human talent will be directed in more productive ways; the focus will be on attending to the highest-order oversight activities, not all-consuming activities that are more amenable to machines, especially AI. 

2. Sourcing management will become more effective

Sourcing management is one of the more complicated areas in TEM. There’s a great deal to consider and so many moving parts. AI’s contribution in this area will be truly impactful. 

For example, when evaluating carrier and service choices for your enterprise’s future, many carriers and their respective services and plan offerings must be considered. They must be compared to each other and your existing state of service operations and costs.  

Without question, the data and all existing variables in this type of analytical exercise are vast and highly nuanced. When purposely and skillfully directed, AI can swiftly complete intricate and complicated analyses.  

Distilling an ocean of relevant but unwieldy data will be infinitely more manageable than has been the case up to the present. We are not yet at the point of TEM nirvana in this regard, but we are getting much closer. At the very least, the gains within the next few years will materially improve capabilities, freeing significant time and resources for other important TEM program needs. 

Yes, savings will be optimized, but not at the cost of sub-optimal operational decisions. The AI gains in this area will increase the likelihood that both considerations are optimized in tandem, as should be the case.

3. Reporting and forecasting capabilities will increase

As is often noted within the business world, “That which gets measured gets managed.” So true and so important. You can have all the great data in the world, but it’s not useful if it can’t be distilled into a highly digestible and manageable form. 

AI will exponentially increase our ability to process infinite amounts of data and provide outputs humans can meaningfully work with. 

This will translate into potent ways to dissect data into outputs that can be actioned using enhanced reporting capabilities to manage operations more effectively. Moreover, forecasting for future-state considerations will also be bolstered in order of magnitude beyond current capabilities. 

Again, your top human talent will not be going anywhere. They will be freed to focus on your TEM program’s highest-order oversight and strategic activities.

4. Help desk solutions will be quicker

When your employees are experiencing issues with their phones, you don’t want them struggling longer than needed. They will experience issues for any number of reasons.

They could have difficulty with an application that did not update properly. Do they have a security concern? Or they need help with customizing their service, given their role. Or their device is not working properly for one reason or another, which is most likely. 

Whatever the issue, your help desk technical staff will be further enabled by the powerful support of AI to assist with all these support areas.  

For example, AI will be able to effortlessly troubleshoot through various scenarios at warp speed, quickly placing the most likely solutions in descending rank of probability for your human support team to address. 

The real value here is in the breathtaking ability to process large amounts of data and analyze myriad scenarios in a way that focuses attention quickly on the most likely and viable solutions.  

The technical staff will love their AI assistant, but not more than your employees, who get quick resolutions for any frustrating difficulties they are experiencing.

Closing Thoughts on Artificial Intelligence Right Now

It feels like AI is taking over the world right now. And we may all be concerned about its gains in power. Discussions about the pending singularity are beyond this article’s scope, but we know that the world of TEM will benefit tremendously from the gains in AI as we roll forward in time. 

The genie is out of the bottle with AI, and there is no going back, even if we wanted to. The world of TEM is embracing its capabilities, especially TEM providers that want to remain at the vanguard of the expense management industry. 

If you’d like to include Tellennium in your TEM/MMS vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution.

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