CBI Executive Interview

June 29, 2017

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CBI Telecommunications Consultants Re-Certifies with AOTMP, Talks Growth

Recent AOTMP Research shows a significant percentage of organizations using TEM/WMM plan to switch vendors by 2019. Of the 53 percent of enterprises AOTMP Research surveyed between January and February 2017, almost half indicated they would choose a new supplier within the following 12-24 months. The reasons tend to boil down to insufficient service, support and quality. This dissatisfaction is more widespread than AOTMP considers acceptable. As vendors grow larger through mergers and acquisitions, and as they expand into new and emerging technology areas, attention to customers can suffer, thereby undermining the industry as a whole. That is why working with AOTMP Efficiency First® solution-certified companies matters.

By undergoing rigorous reviews and adhering to important criteria, these vendors prove their dedication to putting clients first, and implementing and maintaining top-notch approaches to an ever-changing sector. CBI Telecommunications Consultants, powered by Global Technology Expense Management (GTEM) Solutions®, ranks among those standout vendors. The Michigan-based company is embarking on its re-certification with AOTMP as it looks ahead to a year of substantial advancement and innovation. “We’re committed to maintaining our highest standards,” said CEO Denise Booms-Pepin. Vince Cobb, director of sales and operations, agreed. “We believe we are the best, and this allows us to put a stamp on it,” he said.

CBI is no stranger or newcomer to telecom/IT/mobility management. Founded in 1992 by Booms-Pepin, CBI started in prepaid cards and pay phones, and now specializes in all manner of fixed and mobile networks and devices. GTEM Solutions® is the company’s software-as-a-service solution that comes tailored to a business’s specific needs; it features operational support; and performs auditing, sourcing, optimization and other managed services. Experience speaks volumes and underscores CBI’s success over the years, particularly in manufacturing. Of course, that market does not represent CBI’s entire base. The firm also boasts customers in automotive and transportation, global distribution, nonprofit, government, and media. “We go across verticals for sure,” Booms-Pepin said.

And while the clients may vary, their telecom/IT/mobility management needs remain similar. That’s why CBI employs subject matter experts in specific domains. “The mobility person isn’t your data person, or your data person isn’t your fixed person,” Cobb explained. That structure will stay the same even as CBI augments its headcount, which it is doing throughout this year and next. “We’re doubling in size and we will be doubling again by the end of 2018,” Booms-Pepin said. Those numbers will not reflect partnerships and joint ventures, she added – they apply to the core CBI team.

What's next?

Due to that growth and forward-thinking planning, expect pivotal debuts from CBI in early 2018.
Booms-Pepin couldn’t share too many details at press time, but tidbits include:

Ongoing global expansion. CBI already has a global footprint. “We like to say whether it’s Chicago or Shanghai, we’re able to do it,” Booms-Pepin said. But as more enterprises add locations throughout the world and struggle to manage the various fixed and mobile networks, CBI intends to offer an even deeper level of assistance. “Think about the challenges of the time zones, languages and the various vendors,” Booms-Pepin said. “What we offer here is white-glove service. And to do that globally, you really have to have local knowledge.” Look for more information on that front from CBI in the coming months.

More mobile management capabilities. As mobility becomes the norm within organizations, CBI is readying its technology management platform and people to meet demand. Enterprises continue to deal with device-refresh issues and BYOD versus corporate control. “Things that have been problems in the enterprise for decades are getting solved but are also creating more stress on the network,” Booms-Pepin said. Thus, expect lifecycle asset management, and asset optimization and recycling to count among CBI’s new mobility offerings early next year.

Additional overall proficiencies. CBI will launch services that identify and optimize network assets and their maintenance agreements. “People are spending so much money for maintenance agreements and protection on assets,” Booms-Pepin said. “Unless there’s good visibility and a tool to manage these things, you are at the mercy of renewals. You’re just writing checks because you don’t want to have your critical network security not protected, especially when you’ve got multiple locations in multiple countries.” CBI’s answer to the problem is providing data that helps enterprise clients “to negotiate with power because you have the information.” More details will be available soon.

In the meantime, CBI is earning more business from existing clients and attracting new ones. Current users “have been pleased and impressed with the services they’ve gotten from our consultants and technology, and are reaching out for help in other areas,” Booms-Pepin said. Much of that is because these customers now understand how much time, overhead and internal expense telecom/IT/mobility management devours, and they no longer want to dedicate staff to these needs. They also have come to trust CBI, after experiencing setbacks with previous vendors. “Organizations have become set up with promises that have been made and not delivered,” Booms-Pepin said. Some even have gone so far as to break contracts to move over to CBI because it is known for “doing things with integrity and innovation, and with excellence in mind,” Booms-Pepin said.

One specific way CBI does that is by developing application program interfaces, or APIs, based on client requests. Think of it as a custom approach for an entire group of users. “We’re not tied down to, ‘This is the only technology, the only way to do it’,” Booms-Pepin said. In fact, if one client is having a certain issue, it’s almost certain that other organizations have the same problem. Therefore, CBI creates an API that works, no matter the type of enterprise. As of April 2017, for example, the company was building an API that will take a client’s current benchmark in a given area, and then analyze the corresponding industry standards and vendor services, all in real time. Say a purchasing manager has been asked to find savings on network services. Using the CBI tool, the employee could show, on the spot, what the organization pays for MPLS and compare that to peers’ and market pricing. “It’s like the result of a long, hard RFP without having to go through all the RFP part of it,” Booms-Pepin said. “To have access to those things is pretty powerful.” CBI will deploy this API as an add-on to GTEM Solutions® or on a standalone basis.

Another way CBI cements its reputation is by looking to the future. To that point, as 5G looms, CBI is set for the influx of machine-to-machine (M2M) demand that 5G will create. The new wireless standard will run faster with far less latency than 4G, opening a new world of Internet of Things possibilities to enterprises. CBI is prepared. “Being in Michigan, we know the driverless cars, all of the advancement that’s happening there, is big, and we’re building a platform to monitor those and other assets,” Cobb said. Other examples include the need for M2M devices on elevators, electrical meters and more. What they all have in common is the “huge, huge challenges” they’ll bring to organizations, Cobb said. “Our technology platform is going to be ready for that,” he said.

Do More with More

As the mandate to do more with less pervades the enterprise, CBI offers the services and platform to manage telecom, IT and mobility. All organizations have capacity issues that lead to services falling out of contract and technology lacking the support they require. “We are really looking to tailor and customize to offer that extra capacity and make it affordable,” Booms-Pepin said. Automation in the form of the GTEM Solutions® accomplishes those goals. “We build the right business rules to do automating beyond the typical platform.” Part of that, she added, goes back to “actually mapping everything correctly.” For instance, if a wireless bill fails to reflect an international component, that piece will not show up as international in the management platform. “We talk about knowledge being powerful, and having visibility, but if you get it wrong, then you can’t really solve anybody’s problem,” Booms-Pepin said.

Plus, CBI’s history and continued expertise in auditing, invoicing, compliance puts the heavy lifting on the company, not its customers, Booms-Pepin said. “If you don’t have the knowledge or experience to be effective in auditing and compliance, you can’t make technology work for you,” she said.

Together, CBI and GTEM Solutions® do just that.

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