By Pano Anthos,
President and CEO of Pantero
New Approaches to OSS/BSS Integration
Billing is about managing complexity and responding to ever increasing demands to make things simple, transparent and easy to understand. Billing is an evolving sequence of IT and data tactics designed to reduce the number of connections, systems and structures necessary to operate telcos efficiently and aggregate and report critical data clearly and speedily.
Billing lies at the nexus of every telco operational system. Billing cues provisioning, informs CRM, authorizes service access, drives customer care, fuels finance, tax and forecasting and populates critical fields in every management dashboard. Billing has to communicate simultaneously with multiple systems within an enterprise and between enterprises and its partners and vendors. So it’s no wonder that 80 percent of the time, energy and resources assigned to billing go into data integration.
Since many telcos have grown through mergers or acquisitions the problem has been compounded by the almost constant need to integrate and update disparate systems. Until recently there have been only two basic approaches for stitching together different systems -- point to point connections or installing/building one master system. But both have severe limitations which add new complications as they attempt to solve immediate problems.
The point-to-point tactic is straightforward. You connect systems together by mapping the relevant fields to each other. You can’t really get a global view of things but you can move data across the enterprise. Typically, all of the applications involved in the integration get together and pound out a message standard that is agreed to by everyone. Any change to this standard must be agreed to and adhered to by everyone ---a process that quickly becomes unwieldy.