Expert outsourced communications

Mace Group needed to rethink the way it ran communications. Due to significant business growth, they had found it difficult to keep track of what they needed and what all their 4,000 mobile devices were costing. IT operations director Alan Webb was brought in to oversee a transformation and in 2012 chose to outsource Mace’s telecoms needs to Olive Communications.

Olive set about creating a new package for Mace. This included Olive’s billing management software, which gave Mr Webb an overview of who was running up large charges. The billing tool, combined with other benefits such as free line rental, resulted in Mace’s communications bill falling by 40 per cent in a year, despite adding another 179 workers.

Today Olive offers quarterly strategic advice to Mace, ensuring it makes the most of new products and processes. It provides ongoing performance management via weekly account management sessions. And it has daily contact with Mace staff as its support team handle around 350 technical inquiries a month.

The anecdote sums up the benefits of working with an outsourcer such as Olive. There is the access to deep expertise. Outsourcers know their niche inside out and certainly far better than a construction firm like Mace could develop by itself. There is the buying power of an outsourcer. By purchasing in large volumes from networks and internet service providers, a telecoms specialist can pass on significant savings to clients. Outsourcers can supply time-saving and cost-saving technologies. And there is the convenience factor. No longer does the client need to trawl the market to find the best deals as the outsourcer has already done the legwork.

As the cherry on top, Olive works with Mace using open-book costing. Both parties are able to see what they achieve through the deal.

Olive Communications was founded in 2003. Since then, through a mix of organic growth and acquisition, it has grown to a point where it now employs 160 people and serves more than 7,000 customers, from micro-businesses that require just a few mobile devices, to mid-market and FTSE 100 companies needing a unified communications solution that integrates mobiles, fixed lines, data networks and business applications. This growth saw Olive join The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2013.

We’ve saved significant amounts for our business, but we’re also ensuring our users are as connected as we need them to be, which supports greater productivity

Olive’s chief executive Martin Flick says the growing complexity of communications makes outsourcing an increasingly attractive option for ambitious firms. “Staff are finding they now have better tools in their home life than in their professional life,” he says. “They use Facetime on their iPhone, they use productivity apps and a variety of communications platforms, such as Twitter and instant messengers. Then they get to work and wonder why they can’t do the same thing. We provide trusted advice and implementation so employees can have the perfect tools.”

Olive will even help your firm understand how to handle new trends, such as customer feedback through Facebook, and flexible working protocols. “Whatever our customers need help on, we use our deep industry experience to consult on that,” says Mr Flick.

Education and publishing firm BPP chose Olive to manage 600 mobile and fixed-line connections. Richard Brown, voice services manager for BPP, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, explains: “The telecoms market is a really interesting place to be, but as a buyer, the options are almost endless, with many different commercial and technological delivery models. But Olive is a trusted partner who have not just helped us to navigate the waves of technology, but to take advantage of them. We’ve saved significant amounts for our business, but we’re also ensuring our users are as connected as we need them to be, which supports greater productivity.”

A new pricing plan negotiated by Olive with free talk time, and a converged voice and cloud network deal, led to a fall of 50 per cent in call charges. Mr Brown’s verdict on the relationship? “The quality and responsiveness of customer service, and the proficiency of Olive’s account managers are second to none,” he says. “When this is added to the vision and the ability to help customers future-proof themselves against technology and telecoms changes, it makes for a very potent blend.”


1. COST RECOVERY A managed service provider will analyse all communications supplier contracts together, giving immediate savings – 25 per cent is not uncommon.

2. ONGOING COST CONTROL AND BEST TARIFF SELECTION Management tools and software will give predictability of spend and ongoing right sizing of tariffs can save many firms 50 per cent on previous expenditure.

3. CORPORATE RISK REDUCTION The same tools prevent users running up huge roaming bills. Olive has seen examples of $80,000 bills from just one user, when they haven’t implemented these controls.

4. CONTRACTUAL FLEXIBILITY Companies change regularly. Hiring or firing, or moving offices all impact on what communications they need. A service provider, unlike the big networks, will be better placed to react and adapt accordingly.

5. ACCESS TO NEW DEVICES Many providers will offer a “technology fund” which allows businesses to upgrade handsets when they want to, not just on an 18-month cycle. If they choose not to do so, they can reduce their monthly bill instead.

6. ADVICE ON TECHNOLOGY TRENDS Every year sees new buzzwords and disruption; for example, 2013 was BYOD, 2014 is mobile apps. Your provider will help steer you through the minefield.

7. BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION CONSULTANCY The big networks and the smaller resellers lead with technology. A dedicated service provider starts with understanding business objectives and then matching the technology strategy accordingly.

8. DEDICATED ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT A one-to-one relationship is important in many areas of life, but business-to-business firms often forget this. For service providers, who are selling other people’s products, customer relationships are critical.

9. HIGHLY RESPONSIVE CUSTOMER SERVICE Unless you are a huge organisation with 10,000-plus mobile connections, the service you get from a network can be patchy.

10. BEING DIFFERENT By not taking the easy option and choosing a household name, you mark yourself as innovative and progressive. And if the relationship is a success, which it is likely to be given these ten benefits, you gain the kudos.