By Yael Ilan, COO, FTS
March 29, 2019
For the past 20 years, the software powering telecom billing systems has been largely the same: powerful and versatile, but at the same time slow and unwieldy. As a result, for the companies using these systems, it is very hard to be competitive. Using a future-proof billing platform, they will be able to monetize their offering more efficiently and turn billing into a source of revenue.
Let us illustrate this statement with an example. Imagine a marketing person at a large telecommunications provider, watching a commercial from one of its most important competitors. This operator is offering a very attractive deal on a popular smartphone, so when she goes to the office the next day, the first thing she does is to check with the people in charge of billing how quickly they can provide a response. Unfortunately, they have no choice but to tell her to wait for four to six weeks because their systems are not equipped to quickly react to the competition.
What makes the situation even more complicated, is that telecom providers constantly need to develop their offering in order to survive heavy competition. Service providers used to be able to charge clients for every minute their users called, every message they sent and every megabyte they used. But, as networks grew faster and smartphones became more powerful and ubiquitous, this has changed: Communications service providers saw themselves forced to offer limitless calls and messages and offer large amounts of data, all at a relatively low price. If a CSP wants to entice customers, it needs to offer more to them.
One way to do this is to offer innovative data plans. A provider could, for example, choose not to charge for the megabytes their customers used on Facebook and WhatsApp. Or Netflix, YouTube, Twitter and Spotify, and let customers decide for themselves which services they will be able to use ‘for free’. Providers could also allow them to swap these services every few months. Or, if it offers premium data services, like an online gaming service, credit consumers with additional data usage on top of their regular internet quota.
When providers succeed in solving their telecom billing challenges, it provides them with a lot of opportunities for other services. Services that their former billing system did not know how to address or was not flexible enough to support. While CSP’s have already been expanding their portfolio over the past few years, like giving customers access to Netflix, Spotify or another streaming service when they pay a little extra, they can still do more.
Because the possibilities are limitless, as long as a company has the right tools: modern billing software that is able to quantify everything, both financial and non-financial transactions, and allows a company to rapidly configure and deploy personalized plans. This means it has not only to be powerful, but also user friendly: it needs an easy to use graphical interface and should not require coding skills for daily operations. That way, it will allow every business user with a good idea to independently create and deploy a creative plan, instead of having to ask a technically skilled colleague to create it for them. This way, instead of a bottleneck, billing will become a source of revenue generation – enabling CSPs to effectively monetize their current and future services.