Business tech talk: Why 2013 could be an expensive year

If you’re the type of person who closely reads your bills and the letters from your gas supplier or phone company detailing changes in your terms and conditions you might have noticed something unusual last year – phone bills have started drifting up.
This started last July when Telstra reduced download allowances and mobile handset subsidies and a few months later Optus followed suit with a range of increased charges and reduced benefits.
At the beginning of the year Vodafone attempted to change its mobile plans with some sneaky tweaks to prepaid packages that would have seen data charges increase.
Given that Vodafone has lost more than half a million customers since its network imploded under the data loads put on it from smartphones, the company wasn’t really in a place to dictate prices to customers, and so it proved when they retreated last weekend.
Those data loads are why all telcos are looking to increase their charges as they face huge costs in upgrading their networks to meet the demands of our smartphones and rollout the new 4G services.
It’s not just telcos though; we’re seeing this across the economy as electricity prices, insurance premiums and, as was reported this week, gas costs are also accelerating.
Even Microsoft is putting up the price of its Windows 8 operating system despite the fact no one is particularly interested in using it.
What this means for businesses is the need to keep a close watch on costs as each increase, which individually doesn’t mean much to the bottom line, quickly adds up.
If you’re looking at renewing contracts in the next year, it may be worthwhile locking them in early; this is particularly true if you are considering upgrading your mobile phone fleet or IT systems.
One aspect of this climate of price increases is also the importance of making your operations more efficient. There’s a range of cloud-based services that help automate business and it’s worthwhile exploring them. And the current high Aussie dollar is a good opportunity to save money with an upfront payment.
Right now the economy’s in an interesting situation; while some in the business media and politicians tell us we’ve never had it so good, that’s not the reality for many sectors so it’s important that you aren’t trapped like Vodafone.

Paul Wallbank speaks and writes on how industries and societies are changing in this connected, globalised era. When he isn’t explaining technology issues, he helps businesses and community organisations through his business Netsmarts. eBusiness, Seven Steps to Online Success is Paul’s latest book which looks at how businesses can effectively use web services like social media and cloud computing. It is available at all good bookshops or through the publisher, John Wiley & Sons. 

This story first appeared on our sister site, SmartCompany.

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