In a corporate setting, we can conduct a healthy I debate on the topic entrepreneurs are made, not born. And Nancy Peckham, the CEO of Valicom, offering telecom and technology expense management software and services, proves this adage true.
Right from birth, her mother’s unwavering, arduous work attitude influenced Nancy’s upbringing. During the late 1960s, it was almost unheard of, for women to be working, let alone owning a company, and her mother started the Mary Linsmeier Daycares and Preschools.
Besides parenting eight children, supervising this childcare business showed Nancy what a powerful woman looks like. The ’60s situation mirrored in Nancy’s life later in the early 1990s as she became a company owner in the male-dominated telecom industry.
Prior to establishing Valicom, Nancy wanted to pursue her passion. For her, that started when she was a sales manager for a long-distance carrier business called MidAmerican Communications.
Born a Champion
When Nancy graduated from the University of Madison the telecommunications business was at the turn of history. Divestiture had just started – a dissolution of the Bell System, forced in 1982 by an arrangement to enable AT&T to surrender ownership of the Bell Operating Companies which, until then, had supplied the US and Canadian local telecommunications service. This presented other firms with an incentive to join the market and provide long-haul services in rivalry with AT&T.
Consequently, there was no equal access (1 + dialing) to competing providers at the outset, so that consumers were required to dial a long-access number and code. To simplify the operation, large users were forced to mount dialers on their phone systems. Alternative long- range firms find it challenging to introduce modern protocols, to address dialer bugs, and to set up specific billing schemes.
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
“If only there was a consultant who could help me through this maze of confusion without being tied to a specific vendor” Nancy heard variants of this query.
Hence, she devised a customer survey that illustrated the demand for vendor independent telecom consultancy. In only a few years, the company started delivering carrier cost and efficiency billing reports for even higher savings.
In the mid-1990s, as technology provided wireless phones, the company added telephone expenses to the equation. It also built its first-generation technology called InView and brought in consumer bill payment services at the end of the 90s.
Nancy began her business in 1991 under the name Intelligent Networks, which was a buzzword for the quickly emerging voice, data, and internet industries that were in their infancy at the time. After several years, it molded its identity as INI and changed the name to INI Global when entered operation with major multinationals. The business was renamed to Valicom a few years back to show consumers the great value that it provides on their telecom and technology prices.
Today, Clearview, as the third-generation SaaS framework, offers all resources for control of all facets of the telecom expenditure of an enterprise. It provides a comprehensive framework for handling telecommunication invoices and over 60 stock reports, which can give users a clearer idea about how the funds are being spent.
Leveling the Playing Field
Valicom was introduced to end consumer frustrations and the inability of other telecommunications providers to perform equally. It continues to level the telecom playing field by offering innovative strategies that improve equity and equitable access for maximum openness to knowledge, resources, and competitive pricing.
Valicom was, and still is, a value-based organization from day one. The company’s pillars are founded on a series of ideals that are still true to date:
- Authenticity – integrity, honesty, trustworthiness
- Passion – energy, enthusiasm, spirit
- Inspiration – example, influence, motivation
- Innovation – creativity, ingenuity
- Memorable Experiences – operational excellence, best in class service
- Enduring Connections – trustworthy partnerships, relationships, loyalty Enduring ties – commitment, trustworthy relationships
Valicom stays aligned with the justification for upholding the fundamental beliefs, both then and now, 30 years later. Through connecting the staff to the vision and beliefs, it feels more committed to creating a change and share its intent and is grateful for their commitment to its vision.
Penetrating the Male-Dominant Industry
Men widely operated technology-related industries, particularly in the 1980s and 90s. It was challenging for a woman leader to earn recognition as a visionary and effective pioneer in the world of information technology. The sales to consumers, the creation of alliances with telecom companies, the recruitment of skilled workers, and the participation of business organizations were all major hurdles.
Fortunately, Nancy’s mother, who founded a company in a world run by men, taught her a lot. Even her male colleagues made bets on how long she will survive before her venture fails. And now 30 years later, Nancy’s entrepreneurial journey shows us that she not only penetrated but also dominated the male-dominant industry.
Reflecting that era, Nancy advices women to, “Be confident and assertive. You will gain respect by being knowledgeable and by communicating effectively. Listening to the needs of your clients or customers and unwaveringly championing your cause, purpose, or ‘why’ is important to provide a solid foundation for growth. Once you solidify your plan through market research, having the necessary capital to get you through the lean years will allow you to reinvest and grow. Establishing values – your purpose and vision– will provide the framework for everything you do and the people you work with.”
Being in Line with Technology
When Valicom began in 1991, Nancy had an Intel 10286 (100Mbps memory) machine, home to a second-generation device with word and spreadsheet applications.
She got a loan from the Oregon Community Bank 12 months after introducing Valicom and bought a scanner, OCR, and carrier-rating software. She scanned telecom invoices, translated scanned images to text/numerical characteristics through OCR software and ranking software applied separate network rate schedules to the call data. The outcome was a spreadsheet showing the number of minutes used by each price group, the expense for each long-distance carrier, and the savings for each alternative package the consumer might obtain.
The drawback of this method was poor degree of precision in the OCR program, and an additional amount of time was required to figure out mistakes and fixing them. Nancy discontinued OCR months after the introduction and she went back to manual long-term analyses using spreadsheets.
Nancy kept her ears to the ground throughout the first five years in operation and listened to the industry demands. She found that in carrier bills there have been quite a few glitches and overloads. On this basis, Valicom started providing audit services for invoices. There have also been many improvements and implementing modern technologies in the field.
Phones became common in the market and the internet usage became rapidly prevalent. Hence, Valicom kept ears close to the customers and addressed the desire on the market for solutions to guarantee that telecommunications and broadband bills are properly distributed and charged.
As an IT developer, Nancy’s spouse Paul entered the business in 1996. In order to help in coordinating telecom and mobile details, he built the firstgeneration, TEM technology, InView, which provided more resources and improved consumer awareness across the reporting portal. The platform housed all the clients’ telecom and mobile invoice information and provided inventory, cost allocation, and bill payment reports.
In 2001, Valicom migrated all the consumer invoicing data from InView into a SQL database, owing to the technical shortcomings of the Access platform. This shift allowed the company to provide more flexibility, more process management, and a more comprehensive reporting method.
InView had been an in-house platform until 2010, where internal company employees were required to use it. Because of the benefits, the customers needed access to Valicom’s technology, so they could carry out their own telecom cost control processes and view online their personalized data. Hence, the third generation SaaS network, Clearview, came into existence to meet these needs. This new platform has grown more to deliver cost efficiency, further efficiencies, and better awareness of the consumers’ telephone and network prices.
Clearview, today, is a web-based telecom and wireless expense management software that lets users boost their effectiveness while managing wireless, wireline, and inventory in one intuitive location. Valicom is content to announce that an upgrade to the beautifully crafted and modified user experience is due on the 1st of January 2021.
Valicom prides itself on the unprecedented attention to detail its TEM experts provide, a team that cares deeply about the clients they serve, who can adapt to evolving technology environments. Nancy asserts, “It’s our people who make this business soar and I couldn’t be more grateful– thank you, team!”
When asked what’s next for Valicom, she responded, “We will continue to grow and succeed by listening to the needs of our clients, advancing our web-based TEM platform, and living our values in everything that we do. Our vision is to have a single platform for all telecom and technology expense management needs!”
Furthermore, talking directly to customers, she says, “If you are interested in setting up a phone call to learn more about telecom expense management, auditing, contract negotiation, or women in tech, please reach out at any time. I’d love to have a virtual coffee and learn more about your background and experience in telecom!”