It takes two for Tangoe: Why the CFO and CIO are equal in the digital transformation drive

The best practice on the C-suite merry-go-round when it comes to organisational digital initiatives changes depending on what you read. “Is the CFO the key to digital transformation?” asked CIO.com last year, while TechEdge posits “Are CIOs ready to lead the digital transformation?” Forbes, meanwhile, published a piece which argues all positions – including the chief digital officer (CDO), if you have one – need to step up.

It’s a lot of conflicting advice that, in one’s darker moments, raises questions over whether it’s all worth it. But it has to be done.

Tangoe, with headquarters in Parsippany, New Jersey, has been helping organisations in telecoms expense management (TEM), and latterly mobility as a service, for the better part of two decades – and they want to give you some advice as well. The company expanded its advisory services arm, Tangoe Advisory Services (TAS), last month. As this publication put it at the time, the operation was put together “to help enterprises in evaluating their network technology and service provider portfolio, as well as provide ‘insight, guidance and expertise’ to accelerate their network transformations.”

Yet at its heart, the right technology is one which improves efficiency and, in the process, the bottom line. One pharmaceutical client, for whom Tangoe works on their mobile estate in Europe among other projects, has saved €36,000 per month in one country. “It helps our customers get the best out of what they’re doing,” Els Humphreys-Davies, Tangoe marketing director, explains.

For Humphreys-Davies, there is a shared interest from various members of the C-suite and executive lobby in these services. CIO or CFO? It’s all pulling towards the same goal. “The drivers might be slightly different, but they’re both interested in it, and you can speak to both of them,” she explains. “Your messaging has just got to be slightly different – your CFO is going to be more interested in the TEM stuff, but also the cost saving.” With the pharmaceutical client, Humphreys-Davies deals with both IT – “they need to know what they’ve got, where it is and who’s got it” – and the director of finance, the latter as a day-to-day contact.

Bob Irwin, Tangoe’s CEO, was certainly keen on the move, as it benefits various arms of the business, but another factor is around the expertise in the advisory team. “I’ve been at Tangoe a year and a half now, and what I found is the folks in that part of the organisation have a level of knowledge that I’ve never come across before in this space,” says Craig Riegelhaupt, director of product marketing.

“We’ve been in this business close to 17 years, so all that information they’ve collected is proprietary information that only we have – we have that and we can provide context through our other TEM services.” Tangoe can therefore give customers the TAS option first, before rolling out the TEM service.

So what is driving the conversations? As Tangoe said when the expanded TAS was revealed, a maturation in software-defined wide area technology (SD-WAN) – where software defined networking is used on WAN connections to connect enterprise networks over large distances – has created the opportunity for organisations to assess their networks. It was one of the many buzzwords banded about at Mobile World Congress, with vendor press releases hitting the wires like nobody’s business – but is it really nobody’s business? Is it all hot air?

“It depends on the organisation – what they define it as, how it fits into their own infrastructure,” says Riegelhaupt. “That’s what we’re trying to say. Let’s not jump to it because you think it’s the next thing. Do you [as a customer] really need this level of service, these types of services?”

In a way, therefore, things have gone full circle. Entering what was the brave new world of European TEM a decade ago, Humphreys-Davies noted how much education was needed with customers on that continent compared with their American counterparts. So it is with SD-WAN. “It’s about educating the market,” adds Riegelhaupt. “Just like we did with TEM, as long as we get out there, we [can] help simplify it for everybody – not really how we define it as a whole, but define it for you and your organisation. If this is what your environment looks like, this is what SD-WAN means to you.”

 

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