It's Time to Drive a New Conversation about Audio Conferencing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Telecom vendors are famous, not in a good way 

Little is more mission-critical for communication and collaboration than audio conferencing, but the telecom industry’s way of doing business is abysmal. 

Notoriously, their strategy is to pitch you commodity pricing for a basic service only to stick it to you on the back end. They do this in the hope that you don’t have the knowledge or stamina to negotiate through a pile of hidden fees buried in a convoluted contract. 

It gets worse. They know that the typical employee has little or no awareness of the cost associated with their use of audio conferencing in your organisation, a fact that they fully exploit. 

Here’s what you experience: unpredictable costs that penalise you for communicating and collaborating more. Then you have the privilege of trying to make sense of the surprises on an invoice to figure out where your money is actually going. In our investigation we even found multiple law firms that do nothing but help organisations with litigation to clean up the mess. 

It’s simply not the honourable way to do business. 


It’s time to drive a different conversation 

The use of technology in an organisation is not only about hard expenses (visible or hidden), but also a “death by a thousand cuts” associated with poor usability every time someone touches the phone. And user experience (“UX”) increasingly is recognised as having an impact on financial performance

Your opportunity, we trust, is self-evident: 

  • Free up cash flow to (re-)invest elsewhere
  • Empower employees with the right tools that work anywhere
  • Improve insight with transparent, actionable analytics
  • Elevate your personal brand as a leader who positively impacts productivity.

    Assuming your current telecommunications vendor isn’t going to encourage this conversation, the next step is to create your own analysis that better maps to reality. 


    Your biggest expense in audio may not be the hard costs 

    Analysis of the TCO of audio conferencing for your organisation should take into account three areas of impact: 

  1. Hard costs — financial 
  2. Soft costs — management and support 
  3. Soft costs — end user impacts. 


    Hard costs are simple to compare 

    Taking control of understanding the way your current vendor is impacting your bank account need not be hard. Our recommendation: take the total expense of your last three months’ invoices and divide by the total number of conference call minutes used. 

    Total Invoice ÷ Total Audio Conferencing Minutes Used = Actual Cost Per Minute 

    Regardless of what the sales rep quoted you, this is your actual cost per minute. 


    Overhead labour (management and support) burn time and money too 

    Management and support soft costs do not occur with the same frequency as end-users, but they are operation overhead nonetheless. Examples include: 

  • Manually managing cost-allocation instead of set-and-forget setup 
  • Accounting for internal support/help desk expense instead of those calls going to a global support centre (or users being able to self-administer) 
  • Not being able to have feature-level provisioning choices to ensure appropriate control/oversight of service usage 
  • Cost of implementation over simply uploading a user list and enabling self-support 
  • Time wasted deciphering punishing invoices to understand where your money is being spent 
  • Increased difficulty/overhead supporting work-at-home or mobile employees. 


    Labour expense of end users = death by a thousand cuts 

    Usability (or “user experience”) is the study of behaviour — behaviour that is a large expense for most organisations. Unfortunately, telecom vendors’ offers are based on century-old technology that imposes a hidden tax every time users have to use their systems. Examples include: 

  • Getting absentees “up to speed” after a meeting because there is no recording 
  • Looking for a different conference call number to use because:
    • their “regular use” assigned number doesn’t accommodate a larger call
  • they need to find/include international numbers 
  • Not using productivity features beyond simple mute/unmute because they don’t remember cryptic phone commands and can’t find the reference card they were given the day the system was deployed 
  • Not being able to use the call recording as a legitimate collaboration tool, such as:
    • adding a written note to a recording 
  • allowing others to download recordings in a common, usable format 
  • Using more expensive “operator assisted” calls because they lack the controls to manage important calls on their own 
  • Looking for call PIN codes while using their mobile phone (not to mention a potential liability) 
  • Waiting until they’re “back at their desk” to schedule a call versus using their mobile phone. 


Find out for yourself - get this calculator and plug in your own numbers. 

Telecom vendors bet that you will live with it because “that’s the way it is”. But that is not the way it has to be. 

Plug in your numbers and see for yourself how much you actually spend on audio conferencing (both hard and soft costs) with this handy excel calculator.



About EventBuilder and Roger Courville, CSP 

Roger Courville is a 17-year veteran of the conferencing industry, analyst, author, and Chief Content Officer at EventBuilder. He helps organisations analyse, design and deliver interactive audio/web/video conferencing solutions for real-time remote communication. The collective team experience includes hundreds of clients, tens of thousands of webinars, and more than three million attendees. They can be found at 

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