Controlling Costs: Reduce Spending and Maximize Productivity
We are now almost three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with no clear end in sight. As talks of re-starting the economy take root, executives will begin feeling the pressure to reduce costs to help keep their companies afloat.
According to PwC, managing the financial impacts of COVID-19—operations, future periods, liquidity, and capital resources— are the main concern for 75 percent of CFOs. Executives are growing increasingly concerned about a global recession, reduced workforce productivity, reduced consumer confidence, and supply chain disruptions.
“There is little doubt that the US economy has downshifted into recession after a month of a partial shutdown,” explained PwC in their recent COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey. “Economists are revising forecasts for second-quarter US GDP, with projections from the Conference Board for a contraction in the US economy in 2020 between 3.6% and 7.4%.”
Seventy-four percent of respondents in PwC’s study said they are prepared for a potentially “significant” impact on productivity. And 39 percent claimed that if COVID-19 were to end immediately, it would take one to three months for their company to get back to business as usual.
How are CFOs Responding to COVID-19?
Sixty-seven percent of CFOs said they are considering canceling planned investments due to COVID-19. Executives anticipate having to make cuts to facilities and general capital expenditures (82 percent), their workforce (67 percent), and operations (55 percent).
What’s more, 53 percent of CFOs claimed that IT investments are in the crosshairs, while 25 percent are looking to reduce or eliminate digital transformation. And 15 percent are considering reducing customer experience spend. Just 2 percent are looking to reduce cybersecurity spend.
Much of this is alarming, especially when considering the overall impact that COVID-19 could have on the global workforce in the coming months. Altogether, roughly 20 million American workers could be laid off or furloughed by July. And in Europe, at least 60 million jobs are at risk —presenting an unprecedented employment crisis.
To put things in perspective, about 13 million Americans were unemployed at the height of the Great Depression in 1933 (keeping in mind that the US population was 125.6 million at that time).
Tips for Reducing Technology Costs
The unfortunate reality is that many hard-working people will become laid off or furloughed in the coming months due to COVID-19. In some cases, this will be unavoidable.
CFOs need to understand, though, that it is possible to reduce technology expenses significantly, while maintaining — and even improving —operational stability. Doing so could free more capital to spend on workers, protecting jobs, and to prevent the need to part ways with top talent.
This is where it pays for customers to have access to an independent Strategic Partner and Technology Adviser. With the help Cloud 9 Advisers, consultants can identify possible areas of waste and strategically re-allocate funding. Cloud 9 can provide access to a variety of key suppliers and technologies to help with this process. Protecting these budgets will determine how companies spend these resources and ensure the best outcome for all involved.
Here are some recommendations that companies should consider during this tough time, and how Cloud 9 can help:
- Leverage Technology Expense Management (TEM)
Businesses have a rat’s nest of bills ranging from network, phone, mobile, and everything in between. With complex, cryptic, and hard-to-understand bills, businesses often spend far too much money each month on unnecessary telecom expenses that can be reduced or, in some cases, eliminated. It can be challenging for CFOs to adjust plans and eliminate certain technologies, though, due to limited visibility or insight.
Cloud 9 Advisers has several suppliers that can help. We have access to TEM experts that can help a company get its digital infrastructure ‘house’ in order by assisting them in identifying waste and prioritizing what they need to be using — making it easier to slash costs.
This exact concept also applies to corporate Mobile/Wireless plans as well. Sometimes referred to as WEM, or WIreless Expense Management
- Throttle Employee Mobile Data for Non-Business Applications
Company-provided mobile phone and data plans are easy targets for finding savings. Data overages make up, on average, over 35 percent of a business’ mobile bill. You can fix this by either modifying the plan to accommodate the higher data utilization, or you can try asking employees to minimize their data consumption. Add to the problem a complete lack of billing transparency (you can’t tell if an employee is using their data on work-related activities or giving their phone to a child who is watching hours of Netflix and YouTube on the company’s tab).
One of the best ways to prevent employees from blowing through their data limits is to deploy CyberReef solutions, a back-end firewall and traffic-shaping service that deploys directly into the mobile provider’s network, giving insight to application use and allowing the company the ability to limit application use to avoid expensive overage penalties without any physical changes to phones or SIM cards. Another Cloud 9 provider, VMOX, can provide incredible savings through the management of mobility plan selection, in-depth tracking, and analysis of the overall corporate mobility environment. All while without changing the carrier, agreement, or service.
- Migrate to SD-WAN Where Possible
Far too many companies are still using old, slow, and expensive MPLS connections that limit speed to guarantee quality. SD-WAN can help companies leverage inexpensive and FAST broadband connections to emulate MPLS quality, with massive increases in speed. It accomplishes this by controlling and strategically allocating network resources, for peak performance and maximum cost savings, across an entire global network. In many instances, it could make sense to replace expiring MPLS contracts that customers have with the large telcos with cutting-edge SD-WAN deployments. AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, and Comcast all have strong SD-WAN offerings that existing and new customers can switch legacy environments to.
In addition, Cloud 9 suppliers include global SD-WAN through leading providers such as Aryaka, Cato Networks, Claro Enterprise Solutions, China Mobile, Expereo, Mosiac NetworX, Open Systems, and IX Reach. High-quality domestic SD-WAN is available from Versa, Bigleaf, Ecessa, SimpleWAN, and CloudGenix (who was recently acquired by Palo Alto). CloudGenix, it should be noted, also offers a revolutionary product called AppFabric, which allows customers to implement any WAN into a branch office, including broadband, MPLS, cellular, or internet. With the help of CloudGenix, companies can redesign their digital edge and ditch their expensive point-to-point connections.
- Consider Upgrading Low Throughput 4G/LTE Internet Plans
We’re also noticing that enterprises are relying on low throughput metered internet connections which also have prohibitively low data limits. If these circuits are ever used outside of a data backup scenario, the overages quickly add up. This problem can be easily eliminated with Cloud 9's portfolio of wireless 4G internet providers who now offer more gigs of data than ever before. One new Cloud 9 provider, For2Fi, recently announced a 300 GB usage plan for $199.
- Revisit SIP
For enterprise customers that still insist on running on-premise PBX systems, it’s time to pull out that last bill. Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunk pricing has substantially decreased in recent years, providing another easy target for cost-savings.
- Explore Mid-Term Renewal
Another way to save money is to lock in today’s rates and by committing to a longer-term with a telecom provider. This is called mid-term renewal, and it’s a strategy that companies tend to overlook because they aren’t aware that it’s possible.
Cloud 9 Advisers can help negotiate telecom rates, positioning customers for long term financial savings on essential services.
- Managed Services
Across the board, IT departments are overworked and exhausted right now — working nights and weekends to keep employees up and running on remote networks. COVID-19 has been a nightmare for IT workers. Yet, most companies can’t afford to hire more full-time IT workers due to the current economic climate.
One approach is to keep a small core of IT workers and augment the IT department with help from third-party managed service providers. Managed services can be used for everything from helpdesk support to network security to WAN management. This is a flexible, affordable, and scalable approach to IT support. Cloud 9 offers a wide range of managed services from a robust portfolio of providers such as Synoptek, Magna5, Quest Technology Management, Netrio and Splice.
Save valuable resource time and effectiveness by outsourcing your circuit monitoring. This service allows you to keep IT resources focused on their projects that move your business rather than making sure circuits perform.
- Re-think Maintenance Agreements
Telecom maintenance agreements typically arise once every few years. And while they’re necessary for system stability and performance, they’re also costly —and companies tend to pay far too much.
It’s possible to reduce maintenance costs by working with third-party providers like CentricsIT , a Cloud 9 supplier that offers physical maintenance at a reduced price.
- Deploy Automated Assistants
As we mentioned, CFOs are looking to reduce CX spend to save money. However, this can be risky. Customers still expect reliable service, even during challenging times. The demand for seamless service hasn’t gone away —and certain technologies can boost CX while allowing companies to re-allocate staff members to tackle more pressing needs.
Tasks like answering phones and chat help, for instance, can now be automated using virtual live-answer receptionists. This is something that Cloud 9 supplier Ruby offers. Automated assistants don’t come with any salary or benefits and are available to provide 24/7 customer support.
- Explore the IoT
It may seem hard to justify spending money on new connected technologies right now. However, certain IoT solutions can prove to make a big difference in reducing operational costs, especially when deployed on a large scale. For example, a restaurant chain may use connected sensors to monitor and control refrigerator temperatures across all its locations — reducing the need for costly manual inspections.
IoT costs have also fallen in recent years, and connected technologies are now very accessible to businesses of all sizes and budgets. Making a small technology investment now could produce financial savings over time.
- Be Innovative
It’s normal during times like these to be conservative. To protect spend and budgets and that is absolutely the right emotion; however professionals that take this catalyst to find new and creative ways to accomplish critical tasks, saving money doing so, and enable their companies to take advantage of new technologies to make them more competitive will have powerful advantages over their competitors that attempt to survive the status quo.
Let’s Get Started
As you can see, there are countless ways to reduce expenses across the enterprise. Cloud 9 will guide you step-by-step. We are here to help.
By re-thinking where your technology dollars are going, you can improve your operations and potentially prevent having to lay off valuable staff. To learn more about our approach, contact Cloud 9 Advisers today.