Not so long ago, the idea of budgeting and planning around technology expenses was not as important as today; the costs were a lot simpler and did not involve monthly fees, pay-per-use or multiple tiers of charges.
Today, tracking technology expenses has quickly become necessary in order to invest in new initiatives and keep operational costs in check. However, while we don’t have to look so far back to retrace the beginnings of TEM, it’s an ever-evolving field. Telecom and mobility were the first type of communication technology that needed tracking because of its cost structure and its widespread use across businesses. The tech industry is constantly changing, and technology expense management is transforming with it, which means that the market regularly has to adapt to innovations and modernization.
Being informed about the history of TEM is useful to better understand what it does and how it works, or maybe even to realize that some methods – like spreadsheets – are not up to date with the world of possibilities in technology expense management.
What exactly is TEM?
Let’s get on the same page: TEM is now used to refer to technology expense management rather than telecom expense management because it more accurately captures the essence of the evolution of the tech landscape and the aggregation of information coming from multiple types of technology. ITEM (IT expense management) is also used as a synonym for TEM.
The shift from “telecom expense management” to “technology expense management” basically comes from companies having to manage new expenses in the tech era. The adoption of new tools and technologies like M2M, UCC and the cloud, to only name a few, create the need for a bigger range of management.
In fact, ETMA (the Enterprise Technology Management Association) lists 10 key areas impacted by technology expense management:
- Inventory management and change control
- Procurement and fulfillment
- Invoice management
- Expense management (including validation and optimization)
- Usage management and chargeback
- Bill payment
- Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)
- Business Intelligence
Technology expense management brings value by helping with the 10 points listed above. All these areas evolve in different ways, but must all be linked through TEM to ensure efficient business processes and impactful ROI.
How did TEM come about?
TEM became relevant with the arrival of several new telephone and telecom networks on the market. Before, only one company had monopoly over a large territory, but that all changed in the early 1980s, and consumers as well as corporations had trouble adjusting. The process wasn’t called TEM back then, but organizations had to hire personnel to audit and review telecom billing as a way of controlling overcharging and invoicing irregularities. That wasn’t enough yet; the process took a long time and audits were still filled with errors because they were done manually. Then, as you know, technologies kept surfacing and evolving exponentially. The growing technology market – new vendors, new providers, new services, etc. – made it hard to keep managing assets in the same way, and still has businesses struggling to keep all their technology environment in check.
The IT expense management industry essentially grew from a new demand in the telecom industry. Businesses needed to better track their inventory and associated costs instead of just blindly paying bills.
What’s in a good TEM solution?
A TEM solution helps with three key points: it saves money, saves times and allows you to accurately manage your inventory. A good TEM tracks wireless, wireline, voice, data, IT and UCC inventory in addition to processing, loading and validating invoices. It also provides a help desk and client support, manages vendors and contracts and identifies potential savings. All in all, a TEM solution helps you understand and optimize your technology environment, from usage to spend.
The Future of TEM
The TEM industry is in a good position right now; it’s actually never been better! This, of course, comes from perpetual innovation in the tech field and the adoption of those innovations in the professional sphere. ITEM is an integral part of modern business strategies because technology has become inseparable from an effective work environment. Nonetheless, organizations should be aware that there’s more to come. We can’t predict the future, but we can be mindful that there will be technology advancements in the future. Implementing a TEM software like Cimpl is a good start to a future-focused IT strategy, as our software has a clear roadmap for the future and evolves with the changing tech landscape.
Listen to a brief podcast where we talk about important drivers in the evolution of telecom to technology expense management – including the expansion of UCaaS in the age of COVID, the need for IT and Finance to speak the same language, and important TEM best practices to implement immediately.