Monetising the converging channel

Simon Adams, CEO, PRD Technologies, talks to Comms Business about how the channel’s billing needs are shifting.

PRD Technologies works with customers across the channel ecosystem to process data and automate billing cycles. The company’s Intelligent Billing platform helps businesses to innovate and work more efficiently.

Simon Adams, the company’s CEO, founded the business in 2006 after spending his early career as an accountant. Adams explained that PRD was a response to challenges around billing and call data.

At the time, the company focused on large enterprise customers and had developed software that could manage the problems many in the telecoms world were having around processing call data.

The game had been changed by new legislation that meant resellers could come into the market. Adams added that PRD Technologies entered the billing market with bespoke billing platforms as its differentiator.

Adams said, “Rather than just offering out-of-the-box, one-system-fits-all billing, we let our prospects tell us what their IT environment is, then we mould our system to fit theirs. From a commercial point of view, you might not think that’s the right strategy because it takes a lot of work to develop the solution. But the upside is that the customer ends up with exactly what they want.”

Eliminating challenges

PRD Technologies aims to make billing a more seamless and quicker task for its customers. Adams explained his approach.

He said, “Our mandate is: no one really likes billing, it’s a pain for a lot of businesses, but you have to do it. By automating, you can take that billing pain away from customers.

“Our customers tell us what their challenges are, and we then work to eliminate those challenges. If we can’t eliminate them, we will at least significantly reduce them.”

Adams discussed one customer, an IT distribution company, that previously used eight different systems and required 300 working hours to complete each monthly billing cycle.

PRD Technologies was able to automate the whole process so it could be completed in a matter of hours. This meant invoices could be sent out on the second day of the month, rather than near the end.

The decline of CDR

Automation has of course dominated the billing industry in recent years, but Adams explained that the biggest disruption at the moment stems down to broader changes in the voice industry.

CDR, or call detail records, are no longer a fixture of the billing world. Adams said that some resellers are deciding they don’t need to process CDRs anymore, because they are instead deciding to “bundle it all up to give unlimited free minutes”.

And, as a result, some smaller channel companies are choosing to use the invoice functionality in their CRM systems or accounting software.

Adams explained, “There’s a difference between invoicing and billing. Billing covers all the variable stuff that goes up and down, whereas invoicing is generally a fixed amount each month, and those other systems are great for that. With more bundling in the market, there is less need to process all the CDR data and many resellers are deciding to not process the data.”

Broadened horizons

PRD Technologies, like many other companies within the channel, is adapting its business to navigate these market changes.

Adams commented, “We’ve made our system flexible so we are not limited to just telecoms billing, we can carry out billing for any type of data. Processing call data is just an example of what our system can do, but it can also process cloud data, or any other type of IT data.”

Adams added there is a “downside” to going into these new markets. He explained, “The downside is that sometimes we’ve been up against a competitor, and they say: don’t go to PRD because they don’t specialise in telcoms.

“But we do specialise in telcoms. It’s just our system is so flexible that it allows us to open up these other opportunities.”

It is important, Adams said, for all companies across the channel ecosystem to diversify. He pointed to Digital Space, previously Timico, and explained that rebranding was to illustrate the company now offers solutions beyond telecoms.

With convergence between the telecoms and IT worlds, Adams argued all channel companies need to be ready to go where the opportunities are. He emphasised, “If you just do telecoms, it’s a race to the bottom.”

This interview appeared in our February 2024 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.