The present invention relates to a system and method for comparing resource usage, performance and expense. In one aspect, the system allows one entity to compare their telecommunications usage, performance and expenses to companies or groups of companies according to user selected characteristics and metrics.
As companies strive to communicate better both within the company and to customers, there are a growing number of devices using the company telecom or network connections. Further, as companies grow, shrink or shift focus, different resources are required. In the example of telecommunications, larger companies may require rather high bandwidths due to the particular usage requirements or due to the number of devices on the network. Requirements can vary depending on the industry, location or a number of other factors. Frequently, a company will contract with a service provider for their required bandwidth, download speeds, upload speeds and data usage. With the increase in number of wireless devices such as cell phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops and the like, various network, telecom and wireless connections are necessary to provide effective communication. At the same time, companies are constantly striving to trim costs to improve profitability.
One way to manage costs associated with telecom, network and wireless connections is to monitor the performance of the various networks in accordance with contracted rates. If the performance falls below a target, it is often possible to request a credit for the resource that was not adequately provided by the service provider. Another way to manage costs is to monitor usage of resources to be sure that the company is contracted for the correct amount of data, bandwidth or other performance characteristic. If a company uses more than it contracts for, there can be expensive overages that can significantly drive up the cost of the service. At the same time, if the company contracts for more than it needs, the service will be more expensive than necessary.
It is therefore desired to provide for a way for companies to compare their resource performance, usage and/or expenditures to other companies or groups of companies.
One aspect of the system allows a company a way to compare their resource performance, usage and expenditures to companies or groups of companies. The groups may be companies in the same or similar space or sector. The comparison may also be done across divisions within the company. The groups may be user selectable based on a number of different factors. The company may wish to compare their expenses to other entities of similar size and/or with similar requirements in order to get a better understanding of how the company's costs compare relative to the costs of other companies. This may allow the company to determine how to reduce costs or how to better allocate expenditures.
Another aspect of the system allows a company to compare across outside companies or across groups or divisions within the company. This can allow a company to determine how to be more efficient or effective in different areas of operations.
Therefore, it is an object to provide a system allowing a company to evaluate the company's telecom expenditures in a selected context.
Another object is to provide a system allowing a company to evaluate the company's resource usage, expense and/or performance in a selected context.
Still other objects are to provide a system allowing a scalable and variable context that may be selected by a user to customize the evaluation.
Yet further objects are to provide a system allowing customized comparisons and reporting relative to resource usage, expenditures and performances.
These and other objects are achieved by providing a system for comparing resources delivered to one company to resources delivered to a group of similar companies.
Other objects are achieved by providing a system having a number of pre-set reports and criteria for use in comparing one company's telecommunication profile to another company's telecommunication profile.
Other objects are achieved by providing a system for comparing telecommunications resource performance between a first company, which, for example, may be a client company, and a second company, which, for example, may be a different company in the same or similar industry as the client company. The system may include a system computer with a network connection, and a storage accessible by the system computer. An interface module may allow the first company to access the system computer via a user computer. A comparison module may receive a comparison request from the user computer. The comparison request may include a group selection that includes at least the second company or a group of companies, and a criteria selection that includes telecommunications services criteria associated with a telecommunications service for both the first and second company or group of companies. The comparison module compares the telecommunications services criteria data related to the first company with telecommunications services criteria data related to the second company or group of companies. Telecommunication services criteria data may include data for calculating criteria selected for comparison. One example of this data could be the total expenditures on directory assistance, which could be used to calculate the % Directory Assistance criteria discussed further herein. A telecommunications metric module may then generate a telecommunications metric related to the comparison of the telecommunications services criteria data of the first and second companies or group of companies. A reporting module allows the telecommunications metric to be accessible to the user computer. The metric allows the first company to determine how their telecommunications profile compares to the telecommunications profile of the second company or group of companies.
Other objects are achieved by providing a system for comparing telecommunications resources between a first company and a group of companies. The group of companies having a plurality of companies associated therewith, where the group may be user selected or automatically selected based on the first company's industry, sector, size, expenditures or other. The first company may be a client company, and the group may be companies in a similar field, industry or sector. The system may further allow for customized settings for selection of the group. The system includes a system computer having a network connection and a storage accessible by the system computer, the storage receiving company data from the first company and each of the plurality of companies associated with the group of companies, the company data may include data indicative of company sector, company industry, company revenue and the telecommunication expenditures of the companies. The company data may be associated with a telecommunications service for the first company and the group of companies it is understood that the company data may include telecommunications services criteria data. An interface module allows the first company to access the system computer with a user computer. A comparison module receives a comparison request from the user computer, the comparison request including a group selection indicative of the plurality of companies. It is understood that the plurality of companies may be in the same or similar sector, or the same or similar industry as the first company. The group selection may further be indicative of a range of revenue and a range of telecommunication expenditures. It is understood that the plurality of companies may be within the range of revenue and range of telecommunication expenditures.
The comparison request may further include a criteria selection having telecommunications services criteria associated with a telecommunications service provided to both the first and second company. The comparison module may compare a first telecommunications services criteria data related to the first company with a second telecommunications services criteria data related to the second company. A telecommunications metric module may generate a telecommunications metric related to the comparison of the first telecommunications services criteria data and the second telecommunications services criteria data. A reporting module allows the telecommunications metric to be accessible to the user computer allowing the first company to determine how the telecommunications profile of the first company compares to the telecommunications profile of the second company.
The comparison request may further include a criteria selection that takes into consideration seasonal or time based fluctuations in usage and compares like intervals that may occur on a cyclical basis. For example, end of month usage, or summer time slow periods, or Christmas rush periods can be compared to eliminate any variances based on these seasonal or cyclical variances.
Other objects are achieved by providing a system for resource comparison having a system computer with a processor with software executing thereon and a storage accessible by the system computer. The storage is for storing entity data indicative of resource use of a plurality of entities. Software executing on the system computer receives a comparison request, the comparison request including a group selection and a criteria selection, the group selection indicative of at least one group of one or more entities and the criteria selection indicative of at least one criteria for comparison. Software executing on the system computer receives first company data relating to the criteria for the first company. Software executing on the system computer receives group data relating to the criteria for the at least one group of one or more entities. Software executing on the system computer for generating a metric by comparing the first company data to the group data according to the selected at least one criteria, the metric for transmission to a user computer. It is understood that comparisons may be carried out based on performance or service level ranges, where the companies or resources compared have similar service levels associated with the resource or services.
The service level would be associated with the characteristics of a particular resource and the agreed upon or actually delivered levels. For example, the cost of telecommunication service may increase as the service level increases. A telecommunication service level may include, for example, a particular bandwidth, upload speed, download speed, amount of data and number of minutes. The service level may also be associated with the actual or approximated performance associated with a particular resource. For example, if the contracted service level of an internet connection is for 18 megabytes per second download speed, the actual or approximated service level delivered could be more or less than 18 megabytes per second in this example. The service level relevant for comparison may change with the particular resource. For example, if the resource comparison is automotive fuel, the service level may be a certain octane rating or an energy measurement such as BTU/gal. The actual or approximated service level would then be the actual or approximated performance of the fuel delivered, for example, if the service level of diesel is 128,450 Btu/gal the actual or approximated service level could be higher or lower for the fuel that is actually delivered.
The service range would be a particular range of service levels that is used for selecting similar services for comparison between companies of groups of companies. A service range associated with the 18 megabyte per second service level could be 16-20 megabytes per second. This service range would be used to select from services provided to companies where the services provided are between 16 and 20 megabytes per second of download speed. This may allow for the comparison to more accurately compare services that are similar. It is understood that the service range may be pre-set or automatically determined by the system depending on the resource or service to be compared. The service range could also be manually set. The service range could also be made up of a combination of variables that determine a service level quality which may include but not be limited to burst speed, latency, jitter, as well as sustainable throughput.
Yet other objects are achieved by providing a computer-implemented method of comparing resource usage including the steps of executing software on a processor of a system computer and receiving a comparison request via the software, the comparison request including a selection indicative of a group selection and at least one criteria. The processor may access the storage to retrieve the relevant data for comparison. The method may further include accessing first company data from the at least one storage, the company data relating to the criteria of the first company. The criteria may be, for example, one or more telecommunications criteria. The method may also include accessing group data from the at least one storage. The group data may relate to the criteria of the at least one group of one or more entities. The method further includes software executing on the processor for comparing the company data to the group data and generating a metric based on the comparison. The metric is then accessible by the user computer. It should be understood that although a particular order may be described, the steps of the method may be arranged in a different order.
The system or method may further include providing an interface, such as for example, a graphic user interface (GUI). The interface may be provided by software executing on the system computer or software executing on a user computer in communication with the system computer. The method may further include receiving a plurality of selections via the interface, the plurality of selections received from the user computer and including a group selection and a criteria selection where the software executing on the system computer generates the comparison request.
The method may further include generating a range of service levels from performance data associated with the first company data, the performance data indicative of telecommunications service performance. The method also includes receiving group data having performance data associated therewith according to the range of service levels for comparison of group data to first company data within the range of service levels.
The terms “first” and “second” are used to distinguish one element, set, data, object or thing from another, and are not used to designate relative position or arrangement in time.
The terms “communication”, “communication with”, “coupled”, “coupled to”, “coupled with”, “connected”, “connected to”, and “connected with” as used herein each mean a relationship between or among two or more devices, apparatus, files, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, and/or means, constituting any one or more of (a) a connection, whether direct or through one or more other devices, apparatus, files, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means, (b) a communications relationship, whether direct or through one or more other devices, apparatus, files, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means, and/or (c) a functional relationship in which the operation of any one or more devices, apparatus, files, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means depends, in whole or in part, on the operation of any one or more others thereof.
The term “telecommunication services criteria data” represents the data used in performing a calculation according to one or more selected criteria relating to telecommunications services. The telecommunication services criteria data may be calculated or un-calculated and may include a number of different data points that are used with the criteria. For example, calculated data in the example of directory assistance charges would mean that a simple number charged would be returned, such as cost for directory assistance associated with a particular month or other period. Un-calculated data may be the data associated with the particular charges where the system accesses the storage to determine all directory assistance charges and the system then calculates the total for use in calculating the criteria associated with the particular telecommunications services criteria data. The example of directory assistance charges used herein is only provided as an example and should not be seen as limiting.
“Telecommunications service data” may include, for example, (1) usage data indicative of telecommunications usage for the telecommunications service; (2) expense data indicative of telecommunications expense for the telecommunications service; and (3) performance data indicative of telecommunications service performance. Examples of some telecommunications criteria are shown in Table 1 below. It should be understood that similar terms such as “utility services criteria data” would mean similar data, but applied to utility services, such as gas, oil or electric. Services other than “utility” can be used in connection with “services criteria data” to define similar data used in calculating the various criteria for comparison across different resources.
As used herein, the term “profile” is used to designate usage, expense and/or performance of a resource. For example, a “telecommunications profile” would represent a telecommunications usage, a telecommunications expense, or a telecommunications performance, and/or combinations thereof. Each profile could be associated with, for example, a company or entity. The system described herein may provide a number of metrics to one company that allows them to compare their resource usage, a telecommunications expense and/or telecommunications performance for a number of different criteria. These metrics may allow the company to determine how their profile compares to a profile of a group or a profile of another company or group of companies.
An aspect of the system allows companies, organizations and various entities to compare themselves to groups of similar companies. Among other metrics, the system allows the first company to compare their expenditures on various resources. The comparison may be done according to a user selected group that can identify a number of settings. Some settings include, but are not limited to company size, revenue, expenditure levels or ranges for particular resources such as service ranges, number of employees and number of locations. The settings may also be based on geographic location. The system takes usage, expense and performance data from various sources across multiple entities to provide, for example, a score or comparison metric or chart.
The metric returned may be, for example, in the range of 1-10, and this score would depend on how the calculation of the criteria for the first company compares to the group. The score may be a ranking, or the score may be associated with a particular percentile. As an example, if there are 9 companies in the group and the company has the third best score for a particular criteria, this company would get a value of 8, the top company would receive a 10 and so forth. If there are three companies in the group, the best company may receive 10, the 2nd company may receive 7 and so forth. The values for the particular company viewing the report or metric may be displayed as a bar graph, chart or other. The system can calculate the selected criteria for each of the companies, and using these calculations, the ranking of the company viewing the report may be calculated. It is also contemplated that the values calculated through the criteria may be displayed as metrics. For example, if there are 9 companies in the group, the values calculated for each company according to each of the criteria could be displayed with their associated values as a metric. It is possible that a company may rank last out of the companies for a particular criteria, but if the actual value is very close, it may be more expensive to try to improve the ranking than worth the cost associated with doing so.
Both of the client computer 2 and system computer 8 may include processors with software executing thereon. The software of the client computer may provide an interface 20 with a number of modules. The software may also provide the interface through a web browser, or the software may reside on the system computer, or server connected to the system computer. The system computer may also be a web server that is accessible by the user computer using a login or another security feature, for example, a secure or encrypted connection. A group selection module 202 allows the entity to select one or more settings 222 to use to compare themselves to other entities. These settings 222 can include, for example, sector, industry, revenue size, size of resource spend, number of locations, geographic location, number of employees. Additional settings are contemplated and may depend on industry. There is also a resource selection module 204 and a category selection module 206. The resource selection module allows the first company to select from one or more fields 224. The category selection module allows for the selection of criteria 226.
The fields may designate different resources. For example, telecommunications, oil, gas, electric, human resources, insurance, supplies, and raw materials and the like. Third party data can also include information relevant to various resources. For example, oil, gas and electric may be dependent on the weather, for example, temperature. Additionally the system may monitor temperature in various rooms or locations and compare these temperatures to external temperatures to compare temperature drops due to weather and the amounts of resources required to heat or cool a particular location. Human resources may compare expenditures such as salary and benefits and comparisons may be done across other companies by position, number of years employed etc. The selection of insurance resources may compare policy coverage levels to premiums and deductibles and various other limits and terms of the insurance policy or contract.
As shown, the resource, group and category selection modules are discrete parts of the interface. It is possible depending on what information is being compared that the category selection module 206 is part of the resource selection module 204. For example, if specific categories are only relevant to particular resources, a specific category selection module for the specific resource may be warranted. In other words, selection of a particular resource module 204 can affect what selections are presented in the category selection module 206. Other combinations and sub combinations of the modules are contemplated, and the above example should not be seen as limiting.
The category selection module may include one or more criteria 226 to use to compare the first company to other companies according to the group selection. Some examples of these criteria as related to telecommunications are shown in the chart below, however other criteria may be used to generate other metrics, and it is contemplated that the interface may allow for customized criteria and metrics to be generated based on user selection, industry, company size or other.
The system computer 8 may receive a resource compare request 6 from the client computer 2. The resource compare request may include the various settings 222, fields 224 and criteria 226 selected through the interface 20. The resource compare request 6 may be inputted or selected through the interface according to the modules or software previously described. The system computer may request the required data from one or more databases 10 using a data request 100. It is also contemplated that the system computer may access the storage to read and or use the required data. In generating the data request 100, the system computer compares the resource compare request 6 with the data available in the database(s) 10, and data available from third party data sources 12. In some cases, the data may require updating to provide current or up to date information on the companies or entities within the selected group. Although shown in the figure as being between the system computer and database, it should be understood that the data request 100 may be sent to the third party data source 12 or any of the entity computers, database, cloud computing databases and the like. The data request may further include a request for updated or new data for use in comparison, where the new or updated data can be sent to the storage and/or to the system computer.
As referenced above, some of the data used in comparison may come from a 3rd party data source 12. This could include information relevant to the group selection module such as company information 120. Company information may include for example, company size, number of employees, revenue and other information relevant to generating a comparison metric or defining the group. If appropriate, a data request to the 3rd party data source 12 can be generated by the system computer. The request may also be transmitted through the database. Optionally, the data request may originate with the comparison request. The database can store the relevant 3rd party data. Other third party data can include, for example, weather patterns, commodity prices such as oil prices, gas prices, electricity rates, and other commodity prices that may be relevant for comparison. Third party data can also include securities prices and associated securities data for comparison, this may include market capitalization, earnings information and other data or information about a security or other financial product. It is understood that a request may be the system computer accessing the storage or database, alternately, the system computer may access the storage or database without using a request.
The system computer 8 may also generate the data request on the basis of the resource compare request 6. Alternately, the data request may be contained within the resource compare request 6 and the system computer transmits the data request to the database(s) 10.
The databases may be on site or off site. Although not shown, the database could be one or more cloud computing databases that are available to the system computer 8, or database(s) 10 or user computer 2 over a network connection. Each database may be associated with a particular entity or a particular type of data. Alternately, one database could include all the necessary data for performing a variety of comparisons. It is contemplated that the database(s) 10 may be replicated or backed up on separate databases; it is further contemplated that databases can be positioned in different geographic locations. This may aid to reduce transfer times or rates or to comply with varying privacy or security concerns, laws or standards. Although shown as a database, the storage may encompass numerous types of computer accessible or computer based storage. For example, flash memory, hard disks, magnetic storage, compact discs, floppy discs, and internal or external hard drives and the like.
The database(s) 10 receive data from one or more entities 4. Each entity 42, 44, 46 etc. has a corresponding resource usage 402, 404, 406 and data associated therewith. The data can come from the entities 4 and can also include contract data indicative of contracted rates and performances or service levels of the entities or company so that both actual performance and contracted performance can be used to generate metrics. The contract data could also include various other contracted rates and limitations relevant to the resource. This can include rates paid for telecommunications, utilities or other contract rates such as insurance premiums, deductible, limits, exclusions etc. It is also understood that the company that is generating the comparison could also be included in the entities 4 so that data relevant to the company's resource usage, expenses, performances and/or service levels are included for comparison. The data may include types of data required for comparison according to various available criteria that have been described herein. Each entity may also have one or more resources used, and all of this data can be received by the database(s). For example usage data 244, expense data 424 and performance data 426. Each of the usage, expense and performance data can be associated with a number of fields, resources or other information to be used for comparison. The performance data could be based on actual or approximated performance, and the performance data could also be based on service levels. Company information may be delivered from a 3rd party data source or directly through the entity. The system computer 8 may then receive the requested usage 82, expense 84 and performance 86 data according to a data request 100. The system computer 8 may generate one or more comparison metric(s) 80 using this data, and the client computer receives the comparison metric(s) 88. The comparison metric(s) 88 may be displayed on the client computer. The interface 20 may include a preview area showing the metric. These metrics can be used in generating a chart. The chart can be generated by either the client computer upon receipt of the comparison metric(s) 88. Alternatively, the system computer 8 can generate the charts while generating the comparison metrics 88.
Customers can select from available criteria and can define their group through the group selection module. The group selection allows a comparison to entities or organizations by a number of settings. These settings can include, for example: sector, industry, revenue size, size of resource spend, number of locations and number of employees. Size of resource spend would depend on the resource. For example, if a particular industry or company has a high spend on electricity for manufacturing purposes, the group selection may be adjusted to compare a particular resource. The group selections can all have sub categories to further define the group, allowing the Company to compare with entities or companies that are most relevant. Other group settings may compare usage based on active hours in a day. For example, if one factory runs 24 hours a day and another factory runs 12 hours a day, the rate of resource usage would likewise be expected to be different. The system may be designed to extrapolate usage so that the companies with different active hours per day may be compared, alternately, the system may only compare companies within a similar range of active hours in a day. Similar extrapolations can be used with other company data, for example, revenue. If one company has revenue of $5 million and the group includes a number of companies with revenue of $10 million, the data used in calculation according to the criteria may require extrapolation to account for revenue differences, for example, it would be expected that a company with $10 million in revenue would spend more on telecommunication services than a company with $5 million in revenue. The comparison module described herein could perform the extrapolation where required.
The user computer 2′ has an interface module 20′ that can have multiple sub modules such as group selection module 202′, resource selection module 204′ and category module 206′. These modules of the interface module 20′ are used to generate a comparison request 6′. The modules 202′, 204′, 206′ allow for selection of settings 222′, fields 224′ and criteria 226′ similar to those shown and described in reference to
If the data is up to date, the software receives the requested company data 2420 and the requested group data 2422. The software compares 2430 the data 2420; 2422 and generates a metric 2440. The metric is then transmitted to the user computer 2500.
It is also contemplated that the system may be set to automatically generate comparison metrics on a regular or pre-set basis. For example, the system could be configured to run a certain comparison based on criteria, fields and settings selected through the interface. The interface would allow for selection of a recurrence of the particular report or comparison. For example, monthly reports may be generated, and the results can automatically populate graphs based on pre-configured reports. For example, if a company wishes to track certain metrics on a monthly basis, these metrics may be reported on the monthly basis and the metrics may also be reported on a chart that shows, for example, the trend over the last 12 months, and how the metric has changed. Different trends could be overlaid on the same graph so that the company can determine how they compare to trends over a longer period. It is also contemplated that the database can be queried on a historical basis to generate charts, reports and trends for past activity.
Some of the interfaces are shown with drop down menu bars that when clicked or selected would show a list of possible settings. Where appropriate, there can also be an option to adjust the pre-defined list of settings to include more narrow ranges. The suggested settings would be defined based on the characteristics of the company, and would be updated as the company grows, contracts or shifts sectors. As shown in
The system may also be capable of analyzing the sales pipeline to compare a company's sales pipeline within the user selected groups of companies. Although not shown in the figure, the sales data can come from the entity or the 3rd party, depending on where the data is. The system may compare percent of leads converted to sales, time from contact to conversion or a number of other comparisons that could be helpful in analyzing or grading sales performance. Similar comparisons can be done for customer service and tech support.
The following table shows a number of criteria related to telecommunications. Also shown is how the system computer performs the calculation based on the first company and group data to generate the metric. The criteria are examples and are not limiting.
The criteria referenced in the above chart and other criteria described herein are used to generate a metric. The above criteria are exemplary only and should not be seen as limiting. The metric may be similar to the chart shown in
It is further contemplated that one chart can display multiple criteria relative to multiple resources. For example, if two resources are selected through the resource selection module, the criteria available can include criteria relative to each selected resource. The chart displayed can then include metrics for all of the selected criteria. The system can also include suggested or default resource, group and category selections for standard charts or metrics that are most commonly used. Alternately, the system can store a customized chart or chart preferences so that the comparison can be run in a repeatable fashion in order to show progress. It is also contemplated that the system can be set to automatically generate charts or metrics on the basis of a defined comparison request that is repeated automatically at selected time periods or other types of intervals.