The money that corporations spend on telecom services-such as local and long distance, mobile phone plans, calling cards, conference and data networks-has long been considered a cost of doing business.At a time when telecommunications spending continues to grow in complexity and volume, the character of enterprise communications technologies is rapidly changing, according to a recent report by Aberdeen, a Boston-based research and advisory firm.

The report, titled "Category Spend Management Report Series 2004: Telecommunications," notes that there is a lack of spending insight that's forcing many companies to examine telecom cost management solutions.

For example, Aberdeen estimates that 7% to 12% of telecom service charges are in error, and that such errors result in more than $8 million in lost profits for large companies per year.

According to the study, the average Fortune 500 firm processes more than 15,000 telecom-related bills annually, while mid-sized firms process approximately 3,000.

Aberdeen's study also found that 45% of the 115 respondents from various industries are actively managing 50% or less of their overall telecommunications expenditures.

To optimize telecom usage, performance and costs, companies need to have at least 70% of their telecom spending under a centralized management structure, according to Aberdeen's research.

In fact, responding firms that have technology to manage telecom costs realized average annual savings of 26.1%, whereas those companies that don't leverage technology reported 18.6% in average annual savings.

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