TMCnet Feature
December 13, 2019

Telco Billing Software for Next-generation services

Treading the Line Between Cooperation and Competition with Telco Billing Software

Telcos face a dilemma in the new digital communications landscape. Should they try to compete with over the top (OTT) players such as Amazon and Netflix? Or is it better to seek partnerships that are mutually beneficial? The answer lies somewhere in between, with the most promising results potentially awaiting the CSPs/DSPs (communication service providers and digital service providers) that are always poised to innovate and respond to market opportunities and demand in their own right, while building symbiotic relationships with partners in order to keep the customers they already have and win the trust of new ones.

And let’s not forget that customers should be the heart and soul of every telco’s strategy, in everything they do. Today’s evolving operators might not always be competing with disruptive players such as the OTTs, but they are certainly always seeking an edge over other CSPs/DSPs in their field. This is especially important at a time when customers are more or less free to change their provider if they are in the least bit dissatisfied, and for whom the best-value speed, reliability and on-demand services are a priority.

A canny operator will, therefore, look for the partnerships that can deliver all of these things and shield their customers from the temptation to switch. To do this, a telco must be able to provide billing and charging of everything, for everyone – for which advanced and comprehensive telco billing software is a must.

Let’s take a couple of examples: sports broadcasting and connected cars. In each of these, telcos have the network expertise and infrastructure required, while the partner organizations could be market leaders in live broadcast technology or automotive services. In the first example, the telecommunications operator needs to be able to bill their customer for the football or volleyball match they watch on their device via the network, at the same time ensuring that the broadcaster receives their share of the revenue. In the second example, there might be more than one partner – providing a connected car device and an app for intelligent car analytics. The process of billing the telco’s end customer is the same, but now the revenue must be split between the operator and both partners.

Thankfully, modern telco billing software can handle the process in both situations (and any other combination of B2B, B2C, B2B2C, and so on), automating and optimizing each aspect of the transaction from start to finish.

When considering the telco billing software that best suits your business needs, there are three main things to take into consideration. These are how your relationship with your partners will be defined, how revenue sharing will be managed, and the ability to future-proof processes in light of emerging and yet to be launched technologies and demand.

First, it’s important that your billing and charging product can handle not only automated billing rules, but also processes related to service level agreements for each partner or end user. Can it adapt to changing situations and relationships, and generate the appropriate financial documents? Does the product deliver transparency in terms of the flow of revenues and application of rules? If you answer no to either of the above, keep looking.

Next, consider how charges will be managed within the product, and what mechanisms can be put in place to automate appropriate settlements – not just for one partner, but for multiple relationships in which each partner might have different billing/sharing attributes.

Finally, though it’s near impossible to predict what the communications tech landscape will look like 10 years from now, you still need to be ready for it. So ask yourself if the telco billing software you are considering is set up for something as ground-breaking as 5G or the Internet of Things. The same goes for new service and business models; what will your competitors be offering in 12 months’ time? What will your customers be demanding? You need a product that is capable of handling any such changes automatically.

When you’ve found the telco billing software that ticks all these boxes, you’ll be well on the way to cracking that dilemma and winning in the cut-throat battle to gain and keep customers.

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