Chris Deakin – Product Marketing Manager Martin Dawes Systems has told Comms Business Mgazine his views on what to look for in a billing system.
“For operators choosing a billing system is one of their most crucial decisions. Get it wrong and every marketing offer and every customer relationship is jeopardized. Or at the very least made too difficult and costly to deliver competitively. Get it right and operators shouldn’t have to worry about it again. And, be in a position to respond to fast moving market conditions.
When choosing a system, operators should make sure that it is reputable, stable and proven to work. There should not be so much leading edge technology that there are doubts over its effectiveness.
The system should also offer good product support. If an operator on one continent buys a system from a provider on another they need to be reassured that they will not lose an entire working day should something go wrong. It should also offer a good pricing model. Operators make their profits on fractions of phone calls and billing providers need to support this.
Choosing proven technology must not mean shutting the door on innovation. Operators need to ensure their billing system can respond to new challenges and opportunities.
Convergence is an industry buzzword that is developing into concrete commercial services. The mobile industry is starting to look at Triple and Quadruple services as a way of generating extra revenue. Billing products need to be able to support these services now or in the future.
What to actually bill and to whom is becoming an interesting issue. Accessing and purchasing digital content is a fast growing source of revenue. If these new revenue sources are to thrive billing systems that support digital rights management and pay third party suppliers the right amount need to be in place.
Flexibility, scalability and openness are also important. As operators increasingly concentrate on customer retention, billing systems need to be able to keep pace with the different promotions and payment schemes developed by marketing departments. Building scalability into the billing system is key when an operator seeks to achieve ambitious customer acquisition targets. Recently service providers have seen an unprecedented growth in customer numbers. Potential growth could have been restricted if the wrong billing solution had been chosen.
The bottom-line is that billing systems can’t work in a vacuum. They must integrate across a number of areas including printing, logistics, financial systems and mediation systems. As convergence service plays proliferate, the need to integrate with a wider variety of systems including those of third parties puts an even greater premium on systems that have an open interface. Minimising the integration spade work so that customer related data is shared and exchanged seamlessly in real time is already at the heart of the most efficient billing systems”.