Tapping the HP 3000 For E-Services: Managing the Cost of Voice Telephone Accounting Through Outsourced ResourcesTapping the HP 3000 For E-Services: Managing the Cost of Voice Telephone Accounting Through Outsourced Resources

Managing the automated accounting for voice telephone systems is often seen as a technology chore passed along to the computer operations people. According to most technology people, it lacks the pizzazz and technical challenges of high-speed data communications and WAN connectivity. Yet, despite its less than glamorous status to the IT organization, it’s a very important function. Yet voice telephone systems are typically the third largest expense item in a company's operating portfolio, according to Alvina Nishimoto, an R&D program manager for HP. "With a good package, it’s an area where companies can track departmental calling patterns, phone fraud and other possible abuses. Managing phone use can definitely help the bottom line."

With Once Voice

Most startup companies typically begin managing their costs for voice systems by connecting an in-house PC that often includes a dedicated proprietary package to the PBX. When the companies are small, overall costs are seen as most important to manage. But with growth and the emergence of distinct organizational functions, departmental cost management becomes more important. Eventually, these companies outgrow the capabilities of the packages and begin to explore a more robust system. Despite demand and competition, today's market still does not offer an easy transition path from the relatively cheap PC platforms in this specialized area. Conversion can become a significant capital outlay for most firms.

Dial Up Telenomics

An interesting alternative to a major hardware purchase is to free up the space, the dedicated operations staff hours and outsource the entire phone accounting function. While that may initially feel uncomfortable for some, those who worry about security or take comfort in being able to keep their hands on the hardware, the cost tradeoff and ROI make this approach very attractive. HP and Telenomics, an HP Channel Partner, have announced and are planning to roll out a service in February 2000 for the voice communication needs of medium- to large-sized businesses.

The application known as PWARE, runs on HP 3000 servers. The application is delivered over the Internet as a "pay as you go service." This idea permits companies to focus their energy and resources on their business rather than to invest in the required hardware, storage and middleware. Because the service is hosted by HP, a company does not need to dedicate segments of its IT staff to maintaining the application, capacity planning or upgrading to the latest release of the PWARE application.

While the application is not a perfect fit for everyone, there are some indicators for gauging your firm's possible readiness:

• Your company has at least 1,000 phones or more.

• The PBX is about to be upgraded or replaced by a larger system.

• Your company has dispersed multiple offices around the state, across the nation and internationally.

• You have outgrown the capabilities of the current telephone usage tracking software package.

• Managers ask for reports on telephone usage that cannot be easily fulfilled using the current package.

• Telephone usage is increasing and management would like to get a better handle on costs

• Your organization is being directed by senior management to find ways to reduce costs in all areas.

The lack of scalability is a fairly common area of concern for companies relying on PC systems or homegrown applications. Therefore, it’s appropriate to address the subject when considering the application as an outsourced entity. "The minute a customer begins using the system, HP steps up and provides unlimited scalability allowing for exponential growth," says Bernard McIntosh, marketing program manager with HP. "HP’s services data center, located in Boise [Idaho], can add HP 3000 platforms and related hardware to scale to demand without incurring end user cost."

Apps-on-tap

According to Rick Hupe, vice president of sales for Telenomics, "The software is continually being improved and provides a good combination of cost effectiveness, reliability and interoperability." PWARE capabilities include: Online telephone directories; telephone billing; call detail reporting; reporting through e-mail systems; the ability to track all calls such as pirated calls and fraud detection.

The PWARE package is part of HP’s e-services "apps-on-tap" program, which provides an alternative to the traditional justify/lease/purchase/maintain in-house hardware and software business model. Instead, customers are able to use a "transaction-based" business model.

HP and selected ISVs combine their expertise to provide a pay-per-use, transaction-based service. Industry trends indicate that transaction-based services are becoming increasingly attractive to IT management seeking to reduce IT ownership and management costs.

— Information on Telenomics and PWARE can be found at www.telenomics.com. For more information about HP’s E-services go to www.hp.com.