6 September 2017 | By Klaus Henke Community

How data sharing can lead to unexpected cost savings

Innovation in data sharing means businesses shouldn’t settle for the way things have always been done – and that includes how they manage their mobile phone contracts

Data breaches and cyber hacks have, with reason, forced people to become increasingly data cautious in recent years. Extra safety measures are absolutely necessary and businesses quite rightly must work hard to convince consumers of the benefits of sharing certain information, within a safe and managed environment. Yet many businesses possess the same reluctance they are frustrated by and they too could be missing some of the benefits – and cost savings – data sharing can provide.

Our company, Billmonitor, was a founding partner of the government’s midata initiative, now the Switching Programme – designed to drive data sharing innovation that benefits the consumer. We operate in the often bewildering landscape of mobile phone contracts, where what you see isn’t always what you get.

Our software, designed by three Oxford mathematicians, analyses up to  9.8 million different tariff and bundle recommendations against a client’s actual usage to ascertain the best deal. Our consumer service was launched in 2009 and was the first ever Ofcom-accredited consumer price comparison tool, which has been used by over 1.5 million customers since then.

So what about businesses?

We launched a business service arm in 2016 to facilitate a better analysis of the vast data contained in organisations’ mobile phone bills. It’s a massive market and we analyse approximately 1.2 million different tariff and bundle combinations from Vodafone, O2 and EE. According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2017, the UK has approximately 11.5 million business mobile and data-only subscriptions. And we estimate from that, a potential £4.56bn could be saved over a standard 24-month contract period.

This is a hefty figure for a cost that often slips down the priority list for relevant decision makers.

The company recently commissioned a business survey to gain a better understanding of the gap between client’s satisfaction with their current mobile phone arrangements and the high savings that could be achieved.

“If it ain't broke, don't fix it”?

Using a third-party provider, 37 decision makers participated, representing businesses with mobile phone contracts ranging from 15 to 1,300 connections. The overall feedback was very consistent on a number of key issues.

Over 70 per cent of respondents seemed to be content with their mobile phone contracts, with anecdotal comments including "ticking along nicely" and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

About 86 per cent of respondents claimed to understand their mobile phone bills well, with only a minority reporting their bills as being too complicated.

Reality check: benchmarking against the market

Yet based on all client reviews carried out by Billmonitor since January 2016, excessive or inadequate voice and data allowances for different members of staff, inappropriate roaming set-ups and unknown dormant lines all contribute to significant savings opportunities. On average, these work out at 46 per cent or £399 per connection over a standard 24-month contract.

When companies are dealing with an ever-increasing amount of data, it’s sometimes the simplest questions that don’t get asked. In the age of disruption, businesses are too often happy to settle for the way things have always been done.

Asking the right questions of your account manager – and having the right data at your fingertips – should simply be good housekeeping. A monthly review can help to reduce costs, even during the contract period.

Data is there to help, not to be feared. And in today’s innovative climate, no business should be paying more for services than they have to.

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