“Good Enough” - The Face of Today’s Toxic Telecom

"Telecommunications" is not exactly a four-letter word, but most IT Execs and CIOs usually think of several such words when the topic comes up regarding how to manage toxic telecom. Why? In one word: Dysfunctional. In a few words: Not Strategic, not customer focused, not fun.

Executives reluctantly accept the seemingly inevitable conclusion that a sub-optimized telecom environment is less toxic to their business and their bottom line than a sub-optimal IT environment. They are content to accept a ‘good enough’ set of outcomes. They don’t know any other way to achieve a great outcome within such a dysfunctional, fragmented, anti-customer service, monopolistic industry.

Telecom: A Necessary Evil
If the concept of “Good Enough” was applied to the airline industry and we had just 99.9% of flights landing successfully, we would suffer tens of thousands of casualties each year. It may seem harsh to compare Telecom sub-optimization to the painful and dramatic human analogies of cancer and airline deaths, but the illustration is necessary to realize that there are consequences to neglect and the acceptance of mediocrity. Here are some examples:

  1. Critical IT resources waste valuable strategic hours on tactical telecom outcomes
    Could there be a hidden contributing factor as to why highly visible, key strategic IT initiatives are not completed on time or on budget? Could it be you siphon off even a few hours a week from your IT staff to deal with the ‘nuisance’ of telecom? Be it engineering questions, thorny mobility questions, or aggressive carrier reps, the list goes on and on. But your IT people cannot go ‘on and on’ - they have families, clocks, and lives to live. Sadly, both outcomes suffer from this mess: IT loses valuable focus, and telecom becomes sub-optimized and costly.
  2. Contract renewal hell
    How many telecom carriers/vendors support your business? Don’t cheat, count them all! WAN, DR, LD, local services across the country, hosting, managed services, consultants, telephony equipment vendors, cabling, monitoring, let alone the numerous mobility carriers and MDM vendors. Now ask yourself, how many hours do you and your staff spend ‘negotiating’ a great contract with these carriers and vendors? When done, you feel good don’t you? Why? Because every contract cycle you come to expect that commoditization will drive your telecom costs and you will benefit as a result. Congratulations, your direct cost of telecom is lower now. But at what cost?The true cost is an honest aggregation of the time, energy, and focus from you and your staff, in addition to the cost of NOT knowing where the bottom is and how long it takes to get there. Now, take all of this and compare it to the ‘reward’ for this cost - the sweet glory of ‘savings’ you expect each cycle. Well, let’s be honest, rates have compressed to the point where savings are single digits at best, unless you poorly negotiated your previous contract, hence more waste. The time spent on chasing them far out-strips the benefits of keeping the telecom function in-house and away from an expert who can do it all it most efficiently and cost effectively.
  3. The true cost of poor customer service from telecom carriers
    Using the analogy of other large industries is again helpful. If you choose not to accept the notoriously poor service of the US postal service, you have many options to protect your valuable time. You can use Fedex or UPS, email, webex, skype, or any number of substitutes for almost all important communications. However, how often can you avoid a major telecom carrier and still connect a worldwide network? Whether it is last mile, or the WAN, the definition of necessary evil will creep back into the conversation. The cost of waiting in line at the USPS is one person’s time and frustration; however the cost of a network outage can be thousands of dollars a minute in lost productivity for hundreds of people. Sure, this risk is mitigated via network design, disaster recovery options and other means, but there is inevitable risk at some point in the chain. “Good Enough” thinking means accepting this treatment; however, having a partner who has relationships with the carriers, the tools to accelerate outcomes, and the people who know how to get it done because they do it every day…that is the anecdote to ‘good enough’ thinking.

Don’t fall victim to telecom toxicity
You know the painful truth of this adage: if you do the same things, you will get the same results. It applies more than ever within telecom. Eliminate the toxicity within your telecom department by investigating Turnkey Telecom Management (TTM) as the cure to ‘good enough’ thinking.

April 04, 2012 / Myron Braun
Telecom Guide
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