Building Better Billing

Better billing systems also require a high velocity rating engine that can handle the complex rules that govern new digital services.

An agile CSP needs to be able to first try to find a package structure for their service where they can upsell. They need to be able to test markets at will, whether it is demographically or geographically to see what their customers are willing to purchase separately or pay for later. From there, they must be able to automatically add discounts, loyalty points, and cross-promotional campaigns.

H2O Overgroup, a provider of next-gen billing solutions, gave Pipeline a few examples of some of the creative ways in which CSPs have leveraged such tools. These include: offering a small monthly discount for several months; offering special loyalty incentives after a customer has been with the company for varying intervals; offering special holiday offers that coincide with events like holidays, seasons, or back-to-school; and offering customized, personal upsell promotions such as birthday offers.

The early bird gets the worm

In the digital services business, time to market is everything, and this is one of the biggest challenges for service provider organizations. CSP's must be able to deliver new services and service bundles rapidly; and yet, this is not in their DNA. These are very large organizations that are the product of many years of mergers, acquisitions, and organic growth, whose typical product development timelines are decidedly protracted by today’s standards. Bringing such companies up to cloud speed is not a simple task.

In billing, there are several paths that can be taken. One is pre-configuration. Amdocs, for example, markets Business Building Blocks, pre-configured and pre-integrated modules that represent a myriad of uses cases and offers. This strategy dramatically reduces back-end development time and accelerates time to market.

Another option is to embrace a catalog-based approach. This becomes increasingly important when operators manage an ever-increasing mix of services across multiple systems. A centralized product catalog strategy helps service provider organizations as they transition from marketing, selling, and supporting dozens of services to thousands of services.

Better billing systems also require a high velocity rating engine that can handle the complex rules that govern new digital services.  Lastly, billing systems should provide increased visibility for all working groups within a CSP organization in order to detect and prevent order fall-out, gain insight into the performance of new incentives, and rapidly adapt to changing conditions.

Capitalizing on new verticals

Emerging connected services in new verticals like healthcare, transportation, and logistics are generating a huge buzz.  Service providers are understandably excited because these new revenue opportunities could supplant traditional revenue streams, which are growing stagnant. The business dynamics of these verticals are very different from traditional telecommunications, however.

Traditional mobile data is closely tracked and each byte must be categorized and rated. In a machine-to-machine (M2M) application, like a smart parking meter, there is no need for categorization because there is only one type of signaling; users don’t pay per byte of data, and the overall ARPU for the connection is much lower than for a traditional wireless line. Furthermore, as such devices proliferate and grow to the billions, heavyweight billing systems simply won’t be able to scale at cost. Evolved billing systems must be able to accommodate these use cases, especially as CSPs look to bundle additional digital products like home monitoring and security into their service packages.


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