2016

 

October

Hello! – Clouds, Cloud(s) or just Cloud … PBX?

Cloud communications: are Internet-based voice and data communications where telecommunications applications, switching and storage are hosted by a third-party outside of the enterprise organization, and they are accessed over the public Internet. Cloud services is a broad term, referring primarily to data-center-hosted services that are run and accessed over an Internet infrastructure. Until recently, these services have been data-centric, but with the evolution of VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), voice has become part of the cloud eco system. Cloud telephony (also known as Hosted Telephony) refers specifically to voice services and more specifically the replacement of conventional business telephone equipment, such as a Private branch exchange (PBX), with third-party VoIP service.
Maybe rather unexpected but these services are not provided by the PBX industry leaders of the past but rather more by ICT technology and cloud solution companies.

 

What do you need?

  • Cloud communication platform subscription: usually, cloud solutions pricing, is based on user or device licenses. Look carefully on how you want to use the communication platform: one or multiple device per user, one or multiple users per device. This can make a lot of difference in your total cost.
    Cloud PBX solutions are available for small (5 users) to very large environments (+10000). Make sure you don’t undersize, potentially blocking your company growth, but don’t oversize either, too complex or too costly.
  • A device: for cloud solutions often only a software client: browser, windows/mac application or mobile app (Android/IOS/Windows). Check carefully if your company devices and operating systems are supported. However, some persons (or functions) might benefit in still using an ‘old school’ phone e.g. executive assistants, receptionist or security guards. Probably you need to replace your current analogue or VOIP phones with special Cloud-supporting phones.
    PS: for people using a soft-phone a good head-set is often more practical.
  • Functions: just like any traditional PBX you can have a Cloud PBX with just standard functions (call, receive calls, forward, …) but some offer already a long list of extra functions (hunt groups, conferencing services, …). Make sure you know which functions are currently being used or you plan to use, so you don’t come with a nasty surprise once you moved to a new Cloud PBX platform.

 

Attention points:

Using a cloud based external solution does not mean some of the voice fundamentals should be forgotten, here are some points you should also review before deciding:

  • Number portability: if you currently have dedicated phone numbers (or ranges) check that the cloud PBX provider is able to host these numbers, especially if you operate in several countries or regions.
  • Calling rates: make sure there are no unexpected surprises in your rates with a focus on international calls, intercompany calls (e.g. fixed voice to mobile and vice versa)
  • Emergency calls: many countries (like Belgium) have specific rules and guidelines for emergency calls (100, 101, 112). Check upfront if the cloud platform fulfils all requirements.
  • And a more general rule, like for any 3rd party hosted solution: verify provider platform & business stability

 

Where can Tam Tam Consulting help you:

As an independent 3rd party, specialised in Communication and Cloud technology, Tam Tam Consulting has a broad view on the technology available today and becoming mainstream in the coming 5 years. We are daily working for our customers in the area of:

  • Strategy and Vision definition on Cloud & Communication services
  • Building customer tailored ICT technology roadmaps
  • Global Cloud & Communication sourcing (direct or via tendering)
  • Guide customer in building & executing migration and implementation projects

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New customer case; TBI Holdings B.V.

TBI Holdings B.V. is a group of companies that renews, organise and maintain the physical environment. Houses, offices, schools, hospitals, roads, tunnels, bridges, locks, plants and ship installations. Their work is to be seen throughout the Netherlands. From small initiatives to large high-profile projects. For public or private customers.

Within the segments Engineering, Construction & Development and Infra, TBI identifies 5 market-oriented clusters in which the TBI-companies from various disciplines collaborate and share knowledge: Development – Housing – Utility – Technology – Infrastructure

 

TBI Holdings selected Tam Tam Consulting for a Telecom Audit (which later became a recurring project by signing in for the Telecom Expense Management service) and the renegotiation of a framework agreement for 20 telecom services with the current provider.

 

Throughout the process, the following objectives were established and realized;

  • Create transparency of all the services of the framework agreement
  • Identify potential savings and set targets
  • Definition of a strategy with the operator
  • Negotiation and concluding of a new framework agreement + sub agreements with the focus on innovation, governance and market conformit

 

Activities Telecom Audit:

  • Mapping obstacles, opportunities, future cost reductions at the top customer of KPN in the Netherlands
  • Identify all data from the past twelve months
  • Benchmarking of about 20 services (mobile, fixed telephony, WAN, LAN, Storage, Back-up, Hosting, Conferencing, managed IPT, Internet…)
  • Optimisations fixed and mobile telephony

→  Savings potential of about 20% of the total telecom environments

 

Activities renegotiation framework agreement:

  • Negotiation new, future-oriented contract for all existing services
  • Achieving the benchmark potential of the telecom audit
  • Create sub agreements on innovation, flexibility, market conformity, governance and future price evaluations
  • Reporting the results to Board of Directors and IT-management.

→  Effective results of at least 25% after negotiation

 

Quote J.P.M. (Jean-Paul) Dijkstra, Director of ICT; “TTC has helped us in a professional and ethical manner to renegotiate our contract with our current provider in an efficient manner. With their sharp analyses it became clear where our opportunities were, which resulted in a new modern contract that guarantees market conformity, flexibility and not least a saving of 25%”

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June

Internet of Things; reality or still a hype?

The term “Internet Of things” was used for the first time in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, when he gave a presentation about linking objects to the internet through an RFID tag.  Nowadays when we are talking about IoT we mean all objects that are connected through a network and are able to exchange data.

By 2020, the amount of connected devices will be around 50 billion or 8 times the people living on our planet.

 

The IoT components

  • The ‘things’ : Now the question is, what are these ‘things’ that will be connected?  Well, the answer is almost everything.  Coffee makers, washing machines, wearables, thermostats, lamps, and anything else you can think of.
  • The ‘network’ : The different IoT components are tied together by networks.  These can be wireless (Bluetooth, WIFI, 3G, 4G, SIGFOX, LORA) or wired.
  • The ‘gateway’ : The gateway will bring all data together from the different devices on a site.  This gateway will then send all the data to a central platform.
  • The ‘application service’ : When all data is gathered by the ‘things’ and transported over the ‘network’, this data needs to be processed and analysed.   This is done by the ‘application service’.

 

Some examples of IoT solutions

IoT can be used across different verticals like home automation, utilities, retail, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, automotive, smart cities and education.  Let’s give some detailed examples of the real world:

  • Smart parking : Finding available parking space is in most cities a challenge.  To help visitors to find an available place more easily, cities might want to invest in a smart parking solution.  Sensors are installed on every parking space.  When a car parks over the sensor, this is detected, and the information is sent in real time to a central database.  The occupancy information can then be shared to visitors via digital information panels or an app. Connecting this smart parking system with the payment system brings another advantage to the city; it’s very easy to identify non-paying cars and the parking checkers can work more effectively.
  • Chess tournaments : In bigger chess tournaments, live games (at least of the top boards) are in real time broadcasted on the internet.  With sensor technology, a digital chess board can register the type and color of each piece and its position on the board.  This information is sent to a PC and via broadcasting software put on the internet.
  • Smart metering : Instead of sending employees on the road to read the consumption of gas, electricity and water, the utility companies can install ‘smart meters’.  These meters can be read automatically from distance without intervention of a human being.  It can also bring benefit to the households as the consumption can be followed-up daily.

 

Things you need to be aware of by implementing an IoT solution

  • Security : As IoT and connected devices are a fast growing area, people with bad intensions are of course interested as well in this world.  Attacks for example that manipulate access control or change the behavior of cars on the road can’t be underestimated.  Every element of an IoT solution needs to be secured: hardware, OS/firmware, the transport network and the central servers where the data is collected and processed.  The chain is only as strong as its weakest link
  • Privacy : On one hand, IoT will make our lives easier, by automating things (switch lights on/off when entering/leaving a room, remote control of the temperature in home, keep track of your health, etc.)  But one thing you should be aware of, is that all collected data will be stored somewhere on a server.  Smart marketeers can use this data to make tailor-made advertisements.  Worse is when your personal data is fallen into wrong hands.

 

The world of IoT will bring us a lot of interesting things, a lot of benefits that make our lives easier, be it as a consumer as well as to companies.   As long as you take security seriously and you‘re aware that (some of) your private data is stored somewhere out of your direct control, you could become part of the connected world!

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New customer case: International tender mobile telecom

A leading company in the healthcare sector selected Tam Tam Consulting as independent party to advise them on the harmonization of the mobile states within the EMEA region (+10 countries). They opted for a hybrid approach, assessing carrier consolidation versus local sourcing with existing providers and market challengers.

Throughout the process, the following objectives were established and realized;

  • Transparency of the current mobile environment by country
  • Inventory of all the benefits of the current existing contracts
  • Consolidation of volumes and integration towards 1 supplier
  • Contract harmonization and optimization; align end dates across countries
  • Seperate devices and mobile offerings of the operators
  • Cost reduction
  • Guaranteeing quality, services and continuous improvements
  • Clear business case and support in those countries where transition and change management is needed

In addition to the specific knowledge of the market, the customer was looking for best practices and expertise to bring a number of challenges to a success.
Below some attention points that lead to a better result, both during the RFP phases and after the decision making process:

      • Collect raw data files from the current supplier(s), enabling to simulate all flat fee mechanisms in the market place in line with user behavior. Make sure that the current and the projected growth in data and voice usage are covered, or that they have a limited impact on the future costs.
      • Make sure there is a strong involvement of the local stakeholders from the beginning of the process, so that they have input during the whole process
      • Create a leadership team
      • TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) approach, taking into account early termination penalties, costs of the devices that are part of a mobile contract,…
      • Thorough support with prerequisites and action points to justify a migration process
      • Think about the future (demand, trends, policies, cost control)

Quote Sr. Category Manager, Indirect Supply Management_EMEA from a leading company in the healthcare sector;

“Procurement of telecoms is complex! Tam Tam helps us to analyse and understand our usage in this fast-moving market. They put the data in an understandable format. On top of that, Tam Tam knows what you can ask and expect from the different operators.”

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April

Exciting changes in the world of ICT – How to make the most of your ICT

The evolution in ICT –and other sectors– has gone through the roof the last few years. And this progression seems to continue even further. We are confronted with numerous new communication technologies and tools. They pop up like mushrooms, making big promises regarding work efficiency and “the new way of work”.

Important to consider in this evolution is the shift of responsibilities within an organisation. In the past the IT department was in charge of defining the company’s needs. Nowadays it is defined higher up in the company which solution and strategy is expected.

We notice that the phenomenon “IT and the rest of the business are not on the same page” emerges in companies and can cause trouble. It is vital to have a transparent and smooth communication within a company and between the different departments. Especially when it comes to defining a strategy, all parties’ expectations and roles should be clear. The term “ICT” –rather than “IT”– is a great illustration of the importance of communication. Communication is one of the most important parameters to achieve developments such as “the new way of work”, company growth and efficiency.

 

Roadmap company strategy

Therefore, when designing a company strategy, close attention should be paid to the role communication plays in it. Strategy development is crucial for a company since its success is dependent of a plan or strategy. Easier said than done. There are a few important steps that can help you define your company’s strategy and increase the chances of success.

      1. Identification & analysis: What is our company’s current status? What is our ‘business case’ (investments, earnings, profits)?
      2. Goal: Where do we want to go? What do we want to achieve? What are our stakeholders’ needs (employees & clients)?
      3. Define, evaluate and select the possibilities: How do we reach the end goal? Can we use our own team to make sure everything runs smoothly? Do we have the right resources (expertise, time, etc.)? Who are the involved parties?
      4. Involve the entire company: Make it a business project, not only an IT project. Consider redesigning business processes as well as remodeling your technological environment.
      5. Plan: Make up a clear strategy document that contains a timeline, milestones and actions. Tip: take your time. Don’t set your deadlines too tight to make such large adjustments.

 

5 reasons why an external partner can be of help

It’s clear that this is not an easy task. The size of strategic changes can’t be underestimated. That is why it is often opportune –particularly with a project like this– to engage in dialogue with people outside the organisation or with an external partner. The following 5 reasons illustrate this:

  1. It is difficult to pinpoint the problem areas and improvement opportunities in your company’s workflow by yourself. That is why a fresh look on the matter can be a good idea at times.
  2. Someone who isn’t part of the company can steer the communication between all parties in the right direction. For example, insuring end users involvement from day one cannot be forgotten.
  3. An independent partner can provide valuable ideas and expertise from other business cases and determine the possible impact of evolutions in the market.
  4. It is key to provide guidance during changes inside the company to keep a clear focus: how do you get from point A to point B?
  5. The costs that come along with plotting a strategy do not outweigh the possible costs you may face if the situation remains the same. On the condition that the strategy works and is thoroughly examined.

In a nutshell, once you experience problems with setting up a new ICT strategy, it’s best to sound the alarm. By intervening in time you increase the chances for a positive and successful completion of your project.

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8 things you should consider when roaming in the EU

You couldn’t escape the news about the roaming tariffs for the EU. They will be lowered and –eventually– dropped completely. At the end of this month, the first change will occur. The roaming rates will be determined in accordance with the legal base price of €0,05 and an additional charge depending on the domestic price. But is this all good news? Can we just rest on our laurels?

8 things you should definitely check:

          1. How will the new roaming regulations affect my current contract?
          2. How will my supplier handle the EU rates?
          3. What will happen with the current roaming bundles?
          4. Will there be an impact on bundles which cover countries outside the EU?
          5. What will be the impact on users with a lot of roaming traffic?
          6. Will my supplier introduce new products?
          7. What will be the impact on my current setup?
          8. Will international rates change in the near future?

 

What will be the impact on the market?

  • The new regulation might cause an increase in costs.
  • The supplier will be launching various new bundles, it will be key to select the right bundle for the right user to avoid any cost increase.
  • Note the difference between an international call and a roaming call. An international call takes place when someone calls abroad but is stationed in his/her home country. A roaming call occurs when someone calls abroad while being abroad him-/herself.

 

Beware of the pitfalls that come along with the new roaming rates! Check with your supplier what this new regulation means for you as a consumer. Make sure you still have the package or bundle that suits your mobile habits best.
Were there a lot of questions in this article that remained unanswered? Tam Tam Consulting can map and control your company’s telecom costs.
Transparency on costs and usages provides insight in all possible forms of usage, so evidently in roaming costs as well. That way, the possible points of concern, which come along with the new roaming regulation, can be located and dealt with in time.
Moreover, we can take it one step further. Informing managers and end users about the costs they generate but also providing tips on how to improve it, is still one of most efficient methods to cut costs. That way you won’t be surprised when you receive the next invoice from your provider.


As you can see, the possibilities are endless. We love to help you identify the solution for your business and achieve real results.

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