Before we get too deep into 2005, a fresh assessment of your telecomms strategy is in order. To ensure you're focused on the right challenges, taking advantage of the most compelling cost-savings opportunities and investing appropriately to enable a more agile infrastructure, make sure these are on your resolution list:
1. Assess your remote-office and remote-worker connectivity. Up to 90 percent of your employees might be in remote offices, according to recent Nemertes research.
Your voice and data costs might be as much as 40 percent higher than you think, once you've factored in remote-worker connectivity such as cellular services, wireless mobile data charges and home-office Internet connections. To reduce costs, plan aggressive carrier negotiations (see resolution No. 2 below), look into consolidating your mobile services rather than reimbursing employees individually, and explore managed-service, Wi-Fi and cable offerings.
2. Issue a telecomms RFP. Unless you renegotiated in 2004, take a look at your telecomms contracts. I recommend following the "matrix RFP" format: list all your services down the side, with geographic regions as columns across the top. Include services such as mobile, home-office Internet, mobile data and other hidden costs. Then issue the RFP to as many carriers as possible.
3. Assess your vulnerability to distributed denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. Last year saw a noticeable climb in the number of distributed DoS attacks against commercial organizations. You might think that unless you operate an e-commerce site, you're immune to the danger - but an increasing percentage of your corporate data traffic might be travelling across the Internet.
4. Assess VoIP. Documented VoIP cost savings include local-loop reduction, a dramatic decrease in audioconferencing charges, and a 50 to 95 percent reduction in the cost of moves, adds and changes, which can cost large organizations hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
5. Optimize your WAN. Telecomms managers tell us they're anticipating a 50 percent increase in bandwidth requirements. To pack more traffic onto your pipes, you'll need to investigate creative measures. Products such as those from Peribit Networks, Packeteer, Expand Networks and Foundry Networks can help.
They'll also give you much-needed insight into application performance -- indispensable for your migration to next-generation applications such as Web services, business peer-to-peer and VoIP.
Johna Till Johnson is president and chief research officer at Nemertes Research