Top 10 Trends for Telecom Expense Management & Remote Work

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The marked shift towards remote work has revolutionized how businesses operate, significantly impacting every aspect of corporate management – most notably, Telecom Expense Management (TEM), also known as technology expense management.  

In our present times, where Zoom calls have replaced boardroom meetings and home offices have become the new norm, managing telecom expenses has become more complex and essential than ever. This shift isn’t just a temporary adjustment; it’s a fundamental change ushering in a new era of what work will look like for us all. 

For technology and TEM professionals, the challenge now lies in adapting and evolving strategies to effectively manage a workforce’s telecom and information technology-related expenses, a workforce no longer centralized but scattered across various locations.  

In this article, we will delve into the nuances of TEM in the remote work era, uncovering the challenges, strategies, and viable path forward for the telecom/technology expense management discipline into the future, a future of work no longer dependent on a specific physical location(s). 

We’ll also summarize ten trends we expect to continue relating to TEM and remote work. 

The Evolving Landscape of Telecom Expense Management

TEM, once a straightforward task centered around managing landlines and corporate mobile plans within office premises, has transformed into a multifaceted and complex corporate responsibility. This rapid transformation has largely been driven by rapid technological advancements in technology and telecommunications over the past 25 years. 

There are many other factors within a constantly evolving global economy, but technological advancements are at the top of the list; the recent pandemic forced an experiment that proved that technology could at least solve geographical dependency challenges for knowledge workers. 

Introducing sophisticated technologies like 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud-based services has added complexity to TEM. Now, TEM professionals must manage many services and devices, ranging from traditional voice services to advanced data analytics tools and various other applications. 

The paradigm shift to remote work has necessitated a broader view of TEM. It’s no longer just focused on basic network service operations and cost containment; it’s about strategic resource management that enables knowledge-work employees to work efficiently from anywhere.  

This includes ensuring seamless connectivity, managing escalating data usage, and keeping up with the fast-paced changes in telecom technology. Moreover, the diversity in employee locations introduces variations in service availability and costs, making the TEM role more challenging yet just as critical. 

Challenges in Telecom Expense Management with Remote Work

TEM professionals’ primary challenge in remote work environments is the increased complexity of monitoring and managing expenses. With employees working from various locations, often using their personal devices and home internet, tracking usage and costs has become more complicated.  

This workforce decentralization leads to blurred lines in cost allocation and raises questions about how expenses should be fairly divided between the employer and the employee. 

Moreover, the surge in remote work has escalated the reliance on mobile data plans, VoIP services, and cloud-based applications. This shift necessitates TEM professionals renegotiating contracts and revisiting usage policies – amongst many other TEM needs – to ensure they cater to the diverse needs of a remote workforce.  

Another significant concern is maintaining the security and integrity of communications over potentially unsecured networks. TEM strategies must intertwine with cybersecurity measures, adding another layer of complexity to expense management. 

Furthermore, adapting to the varying needs of remote employees while managing costs efficiently is a delicate balancing act. It requires TEM professionals to be more flexible and innovative in their approach.  

The need for robust policies and clear guidelines on telecom expense allocation has never been more critical. These policies must address sound operations management, cost management, and ensure fair and transparent billing practices, considering the diverse usage patterns of remote workers. 

Adapting TEM Strategies for Remote Work

Adapting TEM strategies to the remote work model involves a multi-faceted approach. First, developing clear policies and guidelines defining how telecom expenses are allocated in a remote work setting is essential. These policies should cover various scenarios, including using personal devices for work, home internet reimbursements, and managing corporate-owned devices. 

Leveraging the right technology is crucial in this adaptation process. Advanced TEM software and tools have become indispensable in efficiently tracking and managing telecom expenses across a dispersed workforce. These tools provide real-time data on usage and costs, help identify cost-saving opportunities, and prevent billing errors. 

Negotiating flexible and cost-effective plans with telecom providers is another key strategy. TEM professionals must seek plans tailored to a remote workforce’s needs, including unlimited data plans, competitive international calling rates, and flexible contract terms. 

Case studies from leading companies offer valuable insights into successful TEM adaptations. For instance, some businesses have shifted to usage-based cost allocation models, where expenses are distributed based on actual usage rather than flat rates. Others have integrated TEM tools with remote management software, ensuring a more holistic approach to managing telecom expenses.

Integrating TEM with Remote Work Infrastructure

Integrating Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and other remote work technologies has become increasingly important in managing telecom expenses efficiently. TEM professionals play a vital role in overseeing these platforms, ensuring they are cost-effective and align with the overall telecom expense management strategy. 

Regularly reviewing and optimizing UCaaS expenses is crucial. This involves ensuring that the services being paid for are essential and used effectively by the remote workforce. It also means staying abreast of new UCaaS features and technologies that can enhance communication while being cost-effective. 

Integrating TEM tools with the broader IT infrastructure is essential to view telecom expenses comprehensively. This integration allows for better tracking of expenses across various platforms and services, providing a unified view critical for effective management and decision-making.

The Future of Telecom Expense Management 

The future of TEM is likely to be shaped by continued technological advancements and the evolving nature of the workplace. Integrating AI and IoT in managing telecom expenses points towards a more automated and predictive approach to TEM. These technologies can provide insights into usage patterns, predict future costs, and suggest optimization strategies. 

As remote work models continue to evolve, TEM professionals must stay agile and adaptable. The focus will increasingly shift towards proactive management of telecom expenses, anticipating changes, and adapting strategies accordingly. 

The future of TEM also involves a greater emphasis on sustainability. As companies become more conscious of their environmental impact, TEM strategies must incorporate sustainable practices, such as opting for eco-friendly service providers and promoting responsible usage among employees. 

Let’s now consider trends that are expected to continue as TEM takes its next evolutionary steps. 

Top 10 Trends for TEM & Remote-Based Work

1. The tectonic shift in work culture is unprecedented and has ushered in a new era of work

The explosive transition to remote work due to the pandemic has fundamentally changed business operations, making Telecom Expense Management (TEM) more complex and essential for large modern-day enterprises.  

Yes, the technology for remote work existed before the pandemic, but the pandemic forced such a massive and worldwide revolutionary adaptation overnight. Mother nature forced cultural change explosively and, in a way, only she could. 

2. The accelerating evolution of TEM will continue

TEM has evolved from managing basic landlines and corporate mobile plans to a multifaceted role due to technological advancements like 5G, IoT, and cloud services.  

This trend of constantly expanding capabilities and technical complexities will exponentially continue as we go forward. Things jumped into high gear around 2007 with the invention of the iPhone. Artificial intelligence capabilities will only continue accelerating technological change on orders of magnitude much faster than we are accustomed to. 

3. Strategic resource management needs are heightened

TEM in the remote work era is not just about cost containment but strategic management of resources to enable efficient work from anywhere. As always, operational needs and expense management are critical in TEM.  

Internal enterprise expense management directors and their TEM partners will need to continue to think strategically about the proper deployment of resources and organizational assets in ways that make the most business and financial sense.   

4. Complex expense management will get even more complex

The primary challenge for TEM professionals is the increased complexity of monitoring and managing expenses with a decentralized, remote workforce. The good news is that this is and will continue to be possible via technology. 

The potential con is that it will continue taking additional technology to manage core TEM technologies remotely. This will make it even more difficult for enterprises to perform TEM independently without third-party support and make third-party TEM providers even more valuable to their large enterprise partners.  

However, it’s been challenging for companies to perform TEM successfully independently for quite some time, especially for large enterprises. The area of cybersecurity alone makes this point clear, given its importance to large, decentralized enterprises 

5. Allocation and transparency issues are still being wrinkled out

Remote work creates blurred lines in cost allocation between employers and employees, necessitating transparent and fair expense policies and phone plans (e.g., BYOD  and other corporate plans). 

Enterprises can do this alone, but it can be challenging. However, there are a multitude of reputable TEM providers in the market, such as Tellennium, that can provide needed support. 

6. Adapting to remote work needs will continue

TEM strategies must adapt to the remote work model, requiring clear policies for expense allocation, leveraging technology for efficient tracking, and renegotiating contracts with providers. 

The TEM world will continue adapting and evolving as it always has. This is just the next turn in the road. 

7. The importance of advanced TEM tools will accelerate

Utilizing advanced TEM software is crucial for efficiently managing telecom expenses across a dispersed workforce and preventing billing errors. 

TEM platforms have long been the norm, and for good reason: they are necessary to perform TEM right. Additional technology tools will continue augmenting the world of TEM as we move forward. Capabilities will expand, but so will network IT complexity. 

8. Integrating TEM with remote work infrastructure will be more prioritized

Integrating TEM with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) and broader IT infrastructure is vital for efficient telecom expense management. 

Unified communications and infrastructure as a service technology have proliferated over the last few years. This trend will continue with its relevance to remote work. 

9. Proactive management of AI and IoT is only expanding

The future of TEM involves a shift towards more automated, proactive management using AI and IoT, emphasizing all manner of improvements, including sustainability, which has been less of a priority for large companies in the past. Many firms, such as Tellennium, are well into this process, and it’s only the beginning. 

10. Agility and adaptability will continue to advance

As remote work models evolve, TEM professionals must remain agile and adaptable, continuously refining their strategies to manage telecom expenses effectively. 

Many TEM firms, such as Tellennium, invest heavily in developing these capabilities and can provide necessary consultation for large enterprises.  

Final Thoughts on TEM & Remote Work

Telecom/Technology Expense Management (TEM) is undergoing a significant transformation in the wake of the remote work revolution. As businesses navigate this new terrain, the role of TEM professionals and TEM providers has never been more critical.  

They are at the forefront of adapting to a landscape where managing telecom expenses requires a keen understanding of emerging technologies like 5G, IoT, and cloud services and a strategic approach to infrastructure and resource management across a decentralized workforce.  

As we move into the future, TEM strategies will increasingly lean on advanced technologies like AI and IoT for predictive and proactive management. The focus will be operations, cost efficiency, sustainability, and responsible usage.  

The key to success in this evolving domain lies in staying adaptable, embracing new tools and technologies, and continually refining strategies to meet the changing needs of remote work models.  

The journey ahead for TEM professionals is one of continuous learning and adaptation. Still, it is also ripe with opportunities to redefine the efficiency and effectiveness of telecom and technology expense management in the modern workplace. 

If you’d like to consider Tellennium in your telecom/technology expense management platform vendor comparisons, contact us to schedule a brief demo of our solution. 

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