Weeding out oversights
In addition to identifying system and usage inefficiencies, Symphony sifts through the reams of telecom invoices that large enterprises typically receive, weeding out oversights and errors. By creating electronic feeds from the service providers, Symphony can also reconcile a companys bills with its contracts to determine whether it is paying for services it isnt receiving. La Quinta realized immediate cost savings by terminating payment for lines that had been decommissioned but were still appearing on invoices, Novak said. It also discovered services billed for hotels that had not yet opened and services billed after properties were sold. "It amazes me how often there are errors on invoices," he said.Hotels are almost unique among enterprises in that their telecommunications networks are not just a component of the cost of doing business but they also serve as a tool for generating revenue. With the explosive popularity of wireless phones and Internet communications, however, hotels are rapidly losing this revenue stream. "Traditionally, long-distance service has been a revenue service for hotels," Novak said. "The total revenues are a fraction of what they were. Its become much more of a challenge to break even." While Symphony specializes in managing telecom costs, it has begun working with La Quinta to address the dwindling income from guest-dialed long-distance calls over the hotels network, Novak said. Without divulging details, lest competitors take his ideas, the hotel CIO said that he expects to apply new methods not only to squeeze costs out of his network, but to squeeze more revenue out of it as well. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
Fortune 500 companies spend about $100 million annually on telecommunications, and up to 12 percent of that expense can result from billing errors, Kertz said. In addition to charging for terminated lines, it is not uncommon for service providers to bill at higher rates than agreed to and to charge for services that were not requested, such as line maintenance, he said.