Healthy Billing. Healthy Business.

I know.  Healthy, healthy, healthy.  Seems nearly anything these days can be fixed just by being healthier.  But billing, really?

Turns out, there may just be some truth to the matter.  Keith Brody, former editor of Billing International and FT Telecoms World magazines, recently posted to the B/OSS Insider Blog, discussing a new Accenture study, “How CSPs Can Transform Telecom Billing Operations to Support a New, Convergent, Digital Business” that claims 92 percent of CSPs say their BSS actually hinders the launch of new offers.  If “new offers” equals business growth, we do indeed have a legitimate health concern in the world of billing.

Billing Ills

Brody notes, “CSPs are apparently frustrated by three key limitations of their billing systems – billing accuracy, billing for bundled services and capabilities for data-services volume processing related to the growth of data traffic. In addition, it is hard to configure legacy systems for new offerings, the report citing a clear need for billing systems that can deliver a single bill for multiple products/services.

“Being able to continuously innovate is a major factor in achieving success in an era of rapid change such as we are experiencing today. Billing systems that crumble under the weight of impossible demands will be a key reason for any businesses that fail to thrive or even fail to survive.

“CSPs are slow to introduce new services, compete effectively and exploit revenue opportunities because their billing systems aren’t up to the job of supporting next-generation services.”

That does not sound healthy.

The Unhealthy Spread of New Features

But before we lay the blame at the feet of the billing vendors for failing to keep up with the times, a deeper dive reveals a slightly different issue.  In many cases, it’s not that billing vendors have stopped doing research and development to enhance their systems, it’s providers who have stopped upgrading.

But that’s not surprising either.  And everyone knows why.  Upgrading legacy/licensed systems is hard and time-consuming and expensive and difficult and risky and…

So, it isn’t really a question of billing vendors keeping up with feature development.  Instead, it’s a question of how they can take new development and deliver it faster, more economically and with less risk to providers.

This is why more and more providers are turning to cloud-based solutions that are able to streamline complex upgrade requirements.  With cloud-based solutions, the provider gets the best of both worlds – regular releases of new features and control over the critical business operations that help them compete, like product development, financials, collections and treatment, etc.

A Checklist for Getting Billing Fit

As a cloud-based billing provider, we believe we have resolved the issues presented by the Accenture/Brody list with our Billing as a ServiceSM  offer:

  • Billing accuracy – This would seem to be table stakes.  Our CostGuard solution has more than 15 years of experience managing some of the most complex billing models in telecom.  Check.
  • Billing for bundled services – IDI has many clients who offer convergent services, bundles, unique discounting schemas and more on a single invoice.  Check.
  • Capabilities for data-services volume processing related to the growth of data traffic – Data models are still developing, so our solution features flexible capabilities for tiering, units of measure, usage notification to avoid bill shock.  Check.
  • Actually delivering new features in a timely manner – In embracing a cloud-based delivery model, IDI recognizes that providers need to be able to access new features and services in order to remain competitive – it’s our job to enable their growth.  And we do that with regular releases of new features and a modular design that reduces both the effort and the risk.  Check.

Healthy Billing = Healthy Business

Interesting little informal observation that we recently conducted at IDI…our customers’ revenues grew 21% year over year in 2011. They grew their subscriber numbers, they grew via merger and acquisition, they grew by expanding their product and service lines, and they grew by taking business away from their competitors. They grew and we supported them.

Our Billing as a Service approach gives these wireline, MVNO, wireless and IP providers the B/OSS support (scalability, flexibility, performance, security, product development) to make it happen.

Now, that sounds healthy to me.  See what you think about healthy billing…