State of TEM in 2020

Discover the state of today's TEM market – from how we got here to where the market is heading in the 2020s.

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A new decade presents new challenges and opportunities for Telecom Expense Management (TEM) providers. As technology evolves, enterprise communications and services evolve as well, driven by cloud services, mobility, emerging IoT, consumption-based services and digitalization. In addition, end-user behaviour continues to drive the types of services offered by TEM vendors.

Where the last decade in TEM was defined by diversification, the 2020s will see consolidation both in technology and service offerings. In this guide, we will review the current state of TEM as we leave 2019. Then, we look ahead to 2020, exploring the opportunities and trends affecting TEM in 2020 and beyond.


Current State of TEM

According to Gartner, enterprises are looking for ways to better manage complex telecoms architectures and related IT services. TEM providers offer a cost-effective solution to manage these elements, from procurement and invoicing to vendor, inventory, and dispute management.

As the line between traditional telecoms and IT continues to blur, TEM providers have moved to accommodate more. Today, they offer a suite of cloud solutions and IoT connectivity management alongside full life cycle management of fixed and mobile assets, expenses and usage.

Innovations in the last few years have allowed TEM providers to meet the expanding needs of a global market.

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We’ve seen the cloud become synonymous with enterprise IT over the last five years. And this change has led to innovation in TEM providers as well as TEM customers. Many cloud services are billed on usage related to software, platforms, and infrastructure. There are multiple contract and service options and pricing structures.

This is a familiar challenge to TEM experts. So now they offer cloud management solutions in addition to traditional TEM services. Providers that can offer a technology expense solution have been able to position themselves to the front of today’s market.

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Global Fixed Provisioning Services

Service quality has become one of the key differentiators between the TEM service providers. Enterprises are seeing the benefits of effective provisioning services for their operations, no matter where in the world they are.

This means that TEM providers have moved on from simply placing orders. Managing orders from quote to order to implementation to validation has become the norm rather than the exception. And the demand for a solution to do this globally has pushed TEM providers to innovate their offerings.

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API Explosion

There has been a rise in the development of new APIs across all sectors. Today, 76% of organizations are developing internal and public-facing APIs. This investment will facilitate interoperation between systems, tools, and teams, reduce development time, and extend the functionality of products or services.

For TEM providers, real-time integration using APIs improves service management and workflows, offers better end-user experiences, and enables faster decision making with better data.



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Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies are a few years old now. But since the market is on course to hit $367 billion by the early 2020s, it’s still relevant today. Not only do BYOD policies support the needs of end-users, they have been shown to save businesses money and boost productivity.

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Consumer personal technology often gets adopted faster than in the business space. BYOD policies allow enterprises to stay agile in a world of fast tech. The challenge for TEM providers has been to help enterprises ensure consistent billing, reimbursements, and security for personal devices.

Companies favouring BYOD make an annual saving of $350 per year, per employee.



But the TEM World Has Not Been Without Its Challenges

As with all data sectors, the EU's General Data Protection Regulations has shaped the TEM space in the 2010s - and led to major challenges.

The threat of noncompliance ($20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is the greater) has forced enterprises to reinforce data privacy and consent policies like never before.

The European Data Protection Board registered over 400 GDPR cases in its first year.

European Commission

Today, more data than ever is considered sensitive and in need of protection. Compliance legislation such as GDPR and CCPA have been put in place to protect the personal data of individuals. In this data-aware environment, companies need to be mindful about how and where that data is collected, stored and utilized.

Customers Need a Global Service

The result has been an industry-wide change - from policymaking to the practical impacts of storage and security. More and more, customers are looking for TEM partners with global reach that can navigate compliance challenges. And this has shone a light on the need for consistent service quality from TEM suppliers.

One of the leading differentiators among the big players in the TEM space is their ability to deliver the same quality of service across the globe. So, your buyer in Singapore and your domestic sales team in New Jersey can rely on the same swift resolution and delivery.

More customers are demanding a truly global service that’s as good at home as abroad, which has caused TEM providers to look hard at how they deliver their services.

Vendors who only rely on service teams in their home country are struggling to delivery quality service. Operating in one country creates isolation, which leads to availability issues and lack of effective service, all hampered by language and cultural barriers.

Others are buying companies in different regions to avoid these issues. But just because the same name is on the door doesn’t mean those two entities deliver services similarly. Without a comprehensive global strategy, different business regions receive a different service.

Leading TEM companies, however, are investing in building their own regional offices and service teams. They create a global network that’s underpinned by the same values and standards, ensuring consistency in service levels and customer experience.

Consolidation in the Market

Vendor consolidation and private equity has also been a hallmark of the TEM space in recent years. Many TEM providers are owned by short-term investors so the danger of the vendor being sold (or worse) during the contract is ever-present for the customer.

As a result, there is a feeling of uncertainty when it comes to making long-term plans with vendors due to merger and acquisition activity. At the day-to-day level, this can be highly disruptive – the service is interrupted, staff may need to retrain on a new platform, and the business must bear the expense of re-implementing projects.

Telecom expense management is a world enabled by technology, molded by compliance and becoming more about service quality than ever before. So, what does 2020 have in store?

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TEM in the Twenties

Our expertise in the telecom expense management has helped us forecast the changes coming in the new decade. And as IT becomes more service-driven with SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS, we’ll see the role of TEM continue to change. Here are 5 factors that will have an impact on the state of TEM in 2020:

  1. 5G
  2. SD-WAN
  3. AI
  4. Cybercrime Resilience
  5. TEM Vendor Service Quality

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5G offers much bigger data rates, better connection density, reduced latency, and stronger connection security. Adopting 5G means a significant investment for operators, which in turn means changes to contract terms and services. TEM partners will be instrumental in helping enterprises take advantage of these changes, not just to provide savings, but in the commercial opportunities 5G offers.

5G is expected to cover almost 40% of the world by 2024.


Adoption to 5G will vary by region and by operator due to cost. Some operators will lean in and prioritize 5G investments with the hope of accelerating commercial prospects. Others will take a conservative approach, delaying 5G investments as long as possible while existing networks are upgraded. The challenge will fall on TEM providers to understand the changes and implementation plans to advise their partners effectively.

Ultimately, 5G will create additional costs for businesses. Costs that TEM vendors will be there to help with.

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The Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) market continues to grow 40% per year and is set to reach $5.25 billion by the end of 2023. Despite the challenges of presenting a business case to justify SD-WAN deployment, more and more enterprises are seeing the benefits, which presents an opportunity to TEM providers.

The concepts underpinning SD-WAN are not new. Encryption, path control, overlay networks, and subscription-based pricing are all known quantities. However, SD-WAN wraps these technologies together and presents them to enterprises as a new integrated offering.

The SD-WAN market will soon be worth over $5 billion.




The market is evolving quickly with multiple vendors entering, from large networking vendors to focused WAN specialists and startups. More vendors mean more options and greater opportunities for savings thanks to effective procurement from well-positioned TEM partners.

But with more vendors comes more complexity and more MACD events when deploying SD-WAN. In-house network teams often struggle to manage the load, which means TEM service providers will have to step into the breach.

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Self-learning networks are smart enough to configure themselves to optimum conditions, scaling up efficiency of service while cutting down costs. And we expect the use of AI in supporting TEM operations to increase in 2020.

AI technologies are beginning to enable better optical character recognition, more accurate language translation and increased depth of analysis of how enterprises utilize their communications investments. These tools are poised to enable better enterprise savings and higher quality service to end-users.

According to a survey by Deloitte, 40% of Telecom, Media and Tech executives say they have garnered “substantial” benefits from cognitive technologies, with 25% having invested $10 million or more. More than three-quarters expect cognitive computing to “substantially transform” their companies within the next three years.

61% of business executives with an innovation strategy use AI to identify new opportunities.

Narrative Science

But analysis alone won’t make a TEM program successful. AI loses value when if it can’t be applied strategically, through local, high-quality service.

With 5G facilitating the flow of even more data, TEM providers will lean on AI more to streamline operations and discover new service opportunities.

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Cybercrime Resilience

As our reliance on data continues to grow, so too must our tools for protecting it. The cybersecurity market is continuing its stratospheric growth and hurtling towards $1 trillion as we move into 2020.

By 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

New York Times

TEM providers will be pushed further to ensure secure data management and access. An increase in BYOD policies emphasizes the specific need for more effective endpoint protection. Plus, with 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs out there, enterprises will be looking to their third-party partners, such as TEM providers to fill the skills gap.

Many lifecycle managers leverage Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) systems to keep assets and sensitive information safe. TEM vendors will need to integrate with, or fully manage, a customers' UEM to ensure a closed-loop, secure, and compliant mobile environment.

Enterprises are also discovering how security and asset management operating expenses complement each other. The more effectively assets are managed, the more secure an organization becomes. With cybersecurity continuing to be a serious issue in the 2020s, we can expect TEM services to expand in this area.

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TEM Vendor Service Quality

According to Gartner, enterprises are moving toward fully managed and outsourced TEM services delivered with cloud-based applications. SaaS has become more about the service than the software. So, service will continue to drive TEM vendor success, rather than tools and technology.

Enterprises are moving toward fully managed and outsourced TEM services.


To keep service quality consistent, TEM providers looking to serve global clients need to invest in in-region resources. The rising complexity in IT and telecom estates is making it harder and harder to manage at home, let alone on the other side of the world in a different language.

The other issue is regional compliance. GDPR has shown that region-specific legislation is effective, so we can expect to see more of it in the new decade. Having local experts who understand how new legislation impacts a TEM estate in context is key to ensuring the same level of service quality as your estate gets at home.

Cloud expense is on the rise and more companies have directly tied their revenue and operations to cloud computing consumption. As such, TEM will expand from cost management to resource management and alignment to help keep new technologies aligned to growth initiatives and client success.


TEM Services From Cass

Enterprises are looking to include a wider spectrum of communications-related IT in their telecom estates. Cloud services and BYOD, along with full life cycle management of fixed and mobile assets, expenses and usage, and IoT connectivity management have caused TEM vendors to broaden their horizons.

That’s why our service is more than traditional telecom expense management. It’s a fully-managed, global offering that covers:

  • Fixed and mobile telecom expense management
  • IaaS & PaaS cloud management
  • Benchmarking
  • Sourcing & procurement support

Our team of accredited experts work as an extension of your organization to deliver a five-star service. We improve visibility and control over your telecom and cloud estates, drive significant cost-savings, and free up time so your teams can focus on their core responsibilities.

With Cass at your side, you not only gain financial stability and payment capabilities of a US Federal Reserve-member bank, the international reach to support your services all over the world, and the reassurance and stability gained from a century-old, publicly-traded organization, but you also receive an unparalleled level of customer satisfaction – with all the support, knowledge, and expertise you need from industry-accredited professionals.


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