An increase in the pace of technological advancement and industry-wide innovation look set to define telecom expense management (TEM) in 2020.
Alongside the introduction of 5G, key developments — such as AI-driven automation technology and the ever-increasing rate of cloud adoption — look set to improve services within the industry even further.
At the highest level, this influx of new technologies will enable vendors to provide more agile and flexible services, cut costs, and help organizations get the most out of their telecom spend.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at 4 of the most important trends to look out for in 2020 and beyond.
The TEM Trends Set to Define 2020
1. Embracing 5G
The next generation of mobile internet, more commonly known as 5G, is perhaps the most significant advancement on the telecommunications horizon.
Promising faster download/upload speeds, broader coverage, heightened security, increased connection stability, and network slicing, there are numerous benefits just waiting to be realized.
For enterprises with vast telecoms estates or those that operate in remote locations, a major advantage is 5G’s reported hundredfold increase in the number of connected devices it can support per unit area.
Similarly, thanks to its greater speed and stability, collecting, managing, and evaluating big data’s vast streams of information will be far more efficient and cost-effective once 5G is implemented on a global scale. It will also enable vendors to better optimize network infrastructures, ensuring organizations extract maximum value from their telecom budget.
Lastly, one of the more interesting predictions for 5G in 2020 is that it will precipitate a fundamental sea change in the way the vendors themselves operate. No longer will they be simple technology distributors; rather they’ll be fully-fledged service providers in their own right.
2. Refining Processes Through Automation
Over the past few years, automation has grown to become an important part of TEM — and continues to do so.
First and foremost, application process interfaces (APIs) provide organizations with access to fully-managed, self-service platforms that facilitate the automation of workflows. While increasing interoperability between disparate systems vastly improves data visibility.
What this means in practical terms is that, by automating key TEM process, enterprises can expect a substantial reduction in both service times and costs.
Additionally, as Gartner revealed in a report published earlier this year, telecom is one of the leading adopters of robotic process automation (RPA). That might seem strange to someone on the outside looking in, but it actually makes perfect sense.
Because RPA error rates tend to be much lower, automation is better at performing vital tasks for which accuracy is key. A prime example is detecting and addressing fraudulent activity within a network or processing data in bulk to gain detailed insights into wider telecommunications processes.
Automation has an important role to play in other areas, too. These include:
- Predictive analytics
- Operational scaling
- Price tracking
- Customer service
The next wave of automation technology offers substantial advantages over traditional methods when it comes to optimizing and maintaining telecommunications networks — essential components of any effort to eliminate unnecessary waste and costs across a broad telecom estate.
3. Ongoing Cloud Support
In our 2019 TEM trends blog post, the cloud featured heavily. Specifically, the increasingly prominent role it would play in telecom expense management over the ensuing 12-months. And it would appear that trend will continue unabated into 2020.
According to Forbes, a staggering 83% of workloads will be on the cloud by 2020 (spread across the public, private, and hybrid cloud). While only 27% of workflows will be stored in-house, indicating a marked shift in preferences compared to previous years.
At the enterprise level, this will be driven by two key factors. First, the substantial benefits afforded by the cloud in terms of security, flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. Second, the changing expectations of decision-makers as they narrow their search to TEM vendors that offer a consolidated service — i.e. they possess expertise in both telecom and the cloud.
There are several equally compelling reasons for the continued and widespread adoption of the cloud in the TEM environment, chief among which is the pay-per-use model employed by many cloud service providers. By only paying for the resources they use on a regular basis, organizations can save considerable amounts of money on their telecom spend.
From the vendor’s perspective, the cloud also simplifies the process of introducing new service offerings further down the line. While the increased flexibility of the cloud makes it easier to adjust to the industry’s ever-shifting markets, reducing costs even further.
4. Increased Regulation
As 2019 gives way to 2020, one of the most important considerations for organizations is the increasing amount of regulation affecting the telecommunications industry.
GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), in particular, will continue to have a huge influence on expense management. Research has already revealed that the process of making a telecom estate GDPR-compliant can set you back millions of dollars. Yet, because of the legal penalties surrounding compliance breaches, it’s something you simply cannot overlook — no matter the cost.
On top of that, TEM will have to adapt to new laws surrounding ePrivacy regulation, and, in the UK and Europe, the European Electronic Communications Code.
Similarly, the ever-growing emphasis on data privacy precipitated by the fourth industrial revolution makes it even more important that TEM vendors possess a profound understanding of data residency — specifically, that any data passing across borders is secure.
An important part of this is being able to differentiate between data residency, sovereignty, and localization. Though they might seem interchangeable, the regulations surrounding these three terms differ dramatically.
For example, where data sovereignty, any information stored within a specific country is also subject to that nations corresponding laws. Whereas data residency is a bit more flexible as to where you can store data. As this might suggest, confusing the two can be catastrophic for multinational enterprises with offices located across the globe.
Consequently, the often-subtle nuances that distinguish data residency, sovereignty, and localization can have a substantial impact on the way telecom estates are managed in different regions.
To operate effectively, providing clients with peace of mind that their data is both secure and compliant with local regulations, TEM vendors must be capable of providing in-region or in-country storage facilities where required. Failure to do so compromises the integrity and security of your information, which will likely cost substantial sums of money to put right.
The Benefits of a Fully-Managed Service
Embracing the trends mentioned above will not only help you better manage your telecoms infrastructure, but also eliminate waste and reduce costs across your entire estate.
To derive maximum benefit, you need something more advanced than a rigid, off-the-shelf solution. You need a comprehensive, fully-managed service.
All the same, finding one can be tricky. That’s why we recently published an in-depth e-book brimming with useful information to help you make the correct decision for your organization. Click on the link below and download your free copy today.