The New FAX Machine

I am going to date myself here.  I remember when we got our first fax machine at the accounting firm I managed.  Our insurance agent had just started using one so there was a bit of “peer pressure”.  I argued with my partner at the time (in the mid 80’s) about spending the $1,000 plus to buy one.  Would we even use it?  We’ve come full circle.  We rarely fax things now but our “all in one” printer/scanner/fax will let us do it if we really want to.

In 1984, telecom changed dramatically.  The Department of Justice forced the break-up of the monopoly that had historically provided just about all telecommunications services.  In the wake of this break-up, third parties (what we’ve come to know as competitive local exchange carriers or CLECs) were allowed to connect to the telephone network.

Long distance companies were “born”. 

To give you some perspective – my partner, Charlie, got his start in telecom consulting selling long distance services.  It was a no-brainer.  He took a company’s current invoice for long distance charges and recalculated it with a competitive carrier.  The savings were dramatic.

All you had to do was fax him your telecom bill and he would do the rest – making the transition as painless as possible.  By the way, this process depended on a fax machine and that would not have been invented if there wasn’t a way to plug it into a phone line.  Telecom deregulation gave us the ability to do that!

Generally speaking, competition forces all of us to stay sharp and focus on continuous improvement.  With that competition comes commoditization – or what is sometimes referred to as the “me too” approach to business.

This approach might work in the short-term but it typically drives prices down – to the point where there is no profit incentive for selling the product or service.  We’ve started to see this from some of the telecom companies we work with.

In the last few years, there has been a mad dash to consolidate resulting in quite a few mergers.  We’ve actually seen prices for telecom services level off or increase slightly as well.  Telecom company customers have gotten used to saving money every time their service comes up for renewal.  These days, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Rather, to optimize the value of your telecom spend, it has become even more critical that you take advantage of the latest technology that is available to you.  The most common way to address this is to move to “the Cloud”.  Cloud service providers are the new fax machine!

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