As the telco goes digital, billing must go too

Written by on January 28, 2016 in Billing & Payments, Opinion with 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 12.35.05In the last few months it seems that the telco world has gritted its teeth. The digital revolution has come. For a long time, there was the usual telco attitude, one that Douglas Adams described as putting up a ‘somebody else’s problem field.’ That, it seems, has changed. In fact, according to a vendor of real-time functionality (who will remain nameless until we publish an interview with the CEO early next week) they have gone from busy to super-busy since the Holiday season.

There was, obviously, the realisation that things needed to change. The difference is that the political will is now there. And speed is of the essence.

The other thing that has changed dramatically is the telco attitude to IT. The need to overhaul some ancient system, the luxury of roadmaps and the dominance of IT over IT systems are becoming things of the past.

Success in the digital world is now driven by business. And the business is now saying that they need to cut through the roadmaps, legacy and out of date processes and, basically, start again.

There are, of course, those who moved early. Players such as Telefonica and Telstra are well documented examples of telcos that were first to the digital table. Others, many others, are now following.

An approach that is becoming popular is to ignore the past. Buy something that allows you, the telco, to interact with customers the way that they want to, which is ‘now’, in fact whenever they choose. And they want to pay ‘now,’ in fact whenever they choose.

The downside is that our old friends in the billing department are going to be under the spotlight. Not only does the business want to become agile and all that digital demands, they need to cut costs. And when they see a team of people supporting an out of date system that sends bills out once a month, they will realise that they have a choice. Invest in systems, processes and people that are supporting an out of date business model, or invest in systems, processes and people that are supporting the new business model. For far less money.

The good news, the very good news, is that the telco world is buying stakes at the digital table, and against the grain of current comment, we believe that they are now up for the fight.

The bad news is that the old models, processes, people and systems will be under an intense spotlight. Let us hope that the peripheral skills that seasoned billing people have, like analytics, data curation, cleaning and care, will stand them in good stead.

This may be the end of billing, as we knew it, but hopefully not the end for billing people.

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Alex Leslie

About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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