By Yael Ilan, COO, FTS
November 9, 2019
While selecting and integrating a new billing solution is something that is not done overnight, communication service providers should take note that the process does not end when a new solution is chosen and subsequently integrated. On the contrary: they need to constantly be and stay aware of developments. What are best practices for selecting new billing system?
One very important thing to make sure is that your billing system can keep up with technological innovation. This is more important than ever, now that new technologies and services that require connectivity are introduced daily.
Telecommunications billing used to be a relatively simple affair: customers were simply billed for the number of minutes called or messages sent. However, mobile data connectivity was added to the mix, and things started to get complicated. Things only escalated further, requiring billing providers to be able to cope with every type of transaction and event. Using a convergent and network agnostic system, providers will be able to define products and services for an infinite amount of events of any kind.
As stated in earlier articles, in IoT, billing is less about how much connectivity is used. Instead, it is more about what the connectivity is used for. This requires flexibility and creativity from the provider’s side.
A good example is in the mobility and smart transportation sector: both revenue management and customer management should go far beyond just managing and billing for the connectivity. Instead, providers need to take into account elements such as multiple journeys, drop off points, waiting times, preferred partners, loyalty points, etc. Service providers should create and manage business models and monetize them to support these and other growing sectors. That way, they can create new revenue streams.
Another example is the exceedingly digital lifestyle of customers: providers could introduce bundle offers together with content providers (music, video and other digital goods) and overall support for today’s digital lifestyle, IoT and the connected world.
The provider indeed does not have to facilitate all these services by itself: it could cooperate with third parties on this, as long as it has a good solution for partner management and a smart revenue sharing mechanism in place, which enables service providers of all kinds to interact smoothly and seamlessly with partners within their ecosystem – irrespective of whether they are MVNEs and MVNOs, IoT service providers, or any other type of organization. If a provider has the right partner management capabilities, it can continue to innovate as business models change and implement solutions that can facilitate revenue sharing and settlements relationships. Fast partner on-boarding process, rapid time to market, flexibility and vendor-independency are key elements in the effective deployment of revenue sharing business models.
The days of one-size-fits-all subscriptions are over: users are looking for personalization. Service providers that cannot offer this personalization, are missing out on a lot of customers. This not only goes for individual consumers, but for companies as well. This is becoming a lot easier as well, because of new possibilities as a result of technological developments, like 5G. Take, for example, network slicing: service providers will be able to deliver multiple network occurrences over one shared infrastructure, allowing them to offer custom slices to different groups of users or devices, depending on their needs. A provider might propose one slice for one industry, with specific needs, at specific times, which leads to better performance. For example, email traffic might be routed through a slower slice, while 4K video up- and downloads may pass through faster slices.
Another new market to think about, is mobile money. Operators should make sure to incorporate a solution to support the unique nature of mobile money interactions. To accommodate any mobile payment or banking process over the mobile network in real time and at any time (including money transfers, international remittances, mobile payments, e-commerce & m-commerce and mobile wallets), providers need a comprehensive set of tools. This will allow them to increase revenues from various streams, such as retail services and financial transactions: think, for example of fintech startups who are unable to invest in full back-end payment processing solutions.
If service providers take the above best practices into consideration, they can be sure that the billing solution they are selecting not only answers their current needs, but is also future-proof, enabling any innovative ideas coming from their marketing and ensuring they stay ahead of their competition for the long run.