The novel coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact on the telecom industry, increasing risk and presenting new opportunities in equal measure. Before COVID-19 emerged, industry analysts had a rosy outlook for the telecom industry. For instance, MarketsandMarkets predicted an 8.7% compound annual growth rate to run between 2017 and 2022, bringing the global telecom system integration market to $25.2 billion. Given recent events, it’s difficult to say whether those prognostications still hold water.

Communication service providers (CSPs) now face numerous challenges, from the logistics of switching to fully remote work models to meeting increasing user demand without overwhelming existing networks. It’s a difficult tightrope to walk, but CSPs must find a way to navigate the current precarious landscape and avoid missing out on revenue opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is sure to cast a long shadow across the industry, and the lingering economic implications will affect how CSPs operate for quite some time. During these times of crisis, CSPs should assess every process, workflow and asset to determine where changes need to be made. Now is the time to protect your revenue and strengthen your business from top to bottom.

Invest in your core strengths

When the going gets rough, go back to the fundamentals. Taking a more pragmatic approach to business operations makes sense during uncertain times, whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic or a cyclical economic downturn. Reassess what makes your business stand out from the competition – customer support, service quality, network reliability, etc. – and focus on honing those strengths.

Although there are certainly opportunities to expand into new service areas, those efforts should not come at the expense of your foundational offerings and value propositions. Those are the areas that CSPs can rely on to bring in revenue, so be sure to continue giving them your full support.

Illustration of a safe with keypad

Plug holes in your billing processes

Data leakage is a scourge on CSPs during the best circumstances, but it’s especially harmful when organizations may have trouble finding new sources of revenue. PwC noted that the COVID-19 crisis has made it difficult for carriers and service providers to develop new business opportunities through traditional avenues like industry events and on-site meetings. Although videoconferencing platforms can remove some communication barriers, CSPs should assume that revenue will drop for the time being, especially as customers tighten their own budgets.

Maximizing existing revenue streams is easier said than done if an organization’s billing platform is unable to handle new and often complex usage types needed to differentiate your offering and win in the market. Converting usage records into billable invoices is essential to profitable operations and, yet, many legacy billing systems lack the capability to account for usage activity on various devices. With the Internet of Things introducing a more diverse range of network-connected devices like smart speakers, security cameras and thermostats, outdated billing platforms may struggle to keep up.

Upgrading your billing system so it can reliably rate and invoice various types of network and data usage will help organizations capture more revenue and ensure they are properly compensated for all delivered services.

Support flexible pricing options

CSPs may look to encourage customer retention and bring in new revenue by launching promotions and offering discounted rates to their users. There are many ways to organize pricing models to resonate with various demographics, especially when the economic outlook is uncertain. However, billing systems will need to be flexible enough to support myriad pricing plans and reliably capture revenue from customers regardless of any discounts or payment schedule they use.

If legacy billing platforms are unable to provide that level of flexibility, CSPs should consider replacing or upgrading their existing solution with one that can facilitate many pricing options without running into errors or failing to accurately rate and invoice service usage.

Automate end-to-end workflows

Manual workflows are a drag on operational efficiency and productivity, and every minute spent maintaining those processes is time that could have been spent on more valuable and strategic work. In addition, manual processes are inherently prone to error, and those mistakes can be extremely costly and time-consuming to fix.

Automating internal workflows can help CSPs achieve the high level of operational efficiency they desperately need right now – or during any time of crisis. Organizations must take advantage of every opportunity to reduce unnecessary expenditures, and automation is one of the most effective ways to get the most value out of available personnel and resources.

CSPs have numerous practices that are good candidates for automation, so it can be difficult to know where to begin or where to go next once the low-hanging fruit has been picked clean. Implementing a comprehensive automation platform creates a centralized location to build, deploy and manage automated workflows, dramatically simplifying the logistics while also helping teams extend automation to new processes and tasks. That platform can also seamlessly integrate with many existing business systems, making it far easier to support widespread automation throughout the organization.

Find a strategic business partner

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed during a crisis, especially as CSP leaders confront the immense task of navigating economic, public health or other crises that strain existing systems to their breaking point. How can organizations hope to protect their revenue streams while simultaneously investing in their infrastructure and building for the future?

CSPs don’t need to go it alone, though. Working with a strategic business partner gives organizations direct access to invaluable guidance and support, helping them chart the past path forward.

IDI Billing Solutions has decades of experience in the telecom industry, and our experts understand the obstacles CSPs face better than anyone. We know how disruptive times of crisis can be to normal business operations, but we can also create a strategy to help CSPs get through those rough patches relatively unscathed.

CostGuard Billing and OSS is a core component of what IDI can do to support organizations during these difficult times, creating a technological foundation to capture as much revenue as possible and avoid leakage. On top of that, our consulting services are second to none, and our expert team is always available to help guide you through this or any other storm. Reach out to IDI today to find out more about our solutions and how we can help.