Billing is central to BSS and it’s crucial that the billing function in BSS keeps ahead of the trends in telecoms. CSPs need this so they can monetise new services, new business models and be able to accommodate any payment options that customers will have. Plus, they’ll need to be able to quickly develop and manage pricing offers and cater for all new pricing permutations that the marketing teams come up with.
A major advance in billing in recent years has been driven by the move to the subscription economy. Not just for subscription of telecoms services, but literally for the subscription of any service. With the roll of out of fibre and 5G, the range of current services that are delivered over telecoms networks that people can subscribe to and consume is increasing all the time. Also, the marketing sophistication of subscription-based services is also increasing. Basic pricing advances like tiering and sharing (e.g. for 4K video delivery, or multi-device usage within a family) are now being used by content providers to upsell and increase revenues per user and per household. Pricing of subscription services is now becoming more complex with more variables. Also, the range of subscription services is also increasing which places further emphasis on billing to be able to monetise more offers, from more partners with more pricing variables.
More partnerships – more revenue management options
CSPs don’t have a great track record of becoming content companies. Several CSPs who became sports broadcasters have now pulled out of that market. Most favour partnership deals with the well know content companies like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Spotify and offer entertainment services as part of bundles. However, some CSPs now also give customers the option to subscribe to different entertainment services and add the charge to their bill as an add-on service. Enabling customers to select 3rd party content services and add (or remove) them from their bill gives customers more choice. It also opens up the option to move beyond the standard Netflix/ Spotify bundling options and look to more specialist content services for particular demographics, e.g. access to a football team’s TV channel, etc. These can be marketed direct to the customers via the app and have different payment options – e.g. add to bill for post-paid, add to up-front subscription, pay by debit card or charge to pre-paid balance for pre-paid.
We are now seeing CSPs provide 3rd party services such as home security and on-line health care. Some are also developing new business units based on IoT and Tech products and services. Many of these are aimed at the B2B space and allow CSPs to develop and market offers for different verticals (e.g. manufacturing, logistics, transportation, agriculture). The emergence of partnership driven marketplaces and B2B2X models will further drive the sophistication of billing and revenue management. Tied into the evolution of billing we will see B2B and partner self-service apps and portals that provide different payment options, for different services with different variables (e.g. network QoS and SLAs).
Billing systems have historically been considered as backbone of a telecom IT landscape. They used to be complex monolithic systems that managed customers, products as well as provide revenue management for the CSP. Today, billing management, or revenue management more generally speaking, is modular, yet a seamlessly integrated capability, and evolving as a mission critical part of handling current and future revenue streams.