CSPs need skills to develop revenue assurance systems that provide necessary insights
The multi-party business models that have emerged see CSPs, along with content, brand and platform owners delivering services to customers. The value chain has fragmented and CSPs are in the middle, ensuring that not only they, but the other parties in the chain are fairly compensated, writes Jonny Evans.
Customers want it all, from reliable communications to robust connectivity everywhere. Consumer users want services and entertainment, enterprise customers demand quality of service and predictable cost, and all customers don’t want to waste time. That’s the challenging complexity CSPs are facing. Not only must their systems be capable of identifying and resolving service interruptions fast, but they must also be capable of managing multiple business relationships and platforms across a fragmented value chain in which every stakeholder wants their slice of the cake. “Services will be exchanged across various channels,” says Ari Banerjee, the senior director of strategy at NetCracker Technology. “With these new service mashups, as it were, CSPs will need a billing system that is able to accommodate multi-party compensation and settlement.”
Revenue assurance systems are essential in this complex environment, but these systems must also evolve to meet the challenges of digital transformation. “The issue for CSPs is that there are literally thousands of different use-case scenarios possible which all cause some variation and fragmentation to the value chain,” says Tony Jackson, the senior product manager at CSG International. “CSPs need billing systems capable of rating and charging appropriately for all the various parties involved.”
Most CSPs have disparate revenue management and assurance solutions in place, but the rapid evolution of multi-party business models blurs existing boundaries, so disparate systems may become less effective. “A seamless single solution approach to BSS and partner management and enablement which is also analytics driven, is required,” says Banerjee.
Whatever the solution, revenue assurance systems must be able to combine disparate elements. In future, “Revenue assurance will no longer be a tactical measure, but a key strategic business function,” says Chris Menier, the vice president of products and strategy for the cable and media sectors at Guavus.
Ultimately the purpose of revenue assurance is to ensure accuracy and fair treatment to all stakeholders. In a sense supporting these stakeholders – retail, partnership, customers – is similar to how revenue assurance processes have always run, but “the process may need to be extended to cover the settlement conditions in place with each partner in the value chain, but the impact of this should be minimised,” adds Jackson.
All the same, “the devil is in the detail of whether there’s that end-to-end view that tells you categorically which customer is consuming or not consuming that third party service at that time,” warns David Remaud, the chief marketing officer at Dhatim. “Traditional software solutions are simply too slow and challenging to deploy effectively and fast enough. The capability to access cloud-based smart data science services that can help orchestrate the provisioning, revenue and cost management of these additional services is going to be critical.”
Digital disruption is spawning new business, services and models at a dizzying rate, and CSPs’ revenue assurance systems must be sufficiently versatile to handle all this change, margins are tight. New business models also bring new risks, from suppliers, technology – even from internal stakeholders. “Having a risk management plan with defined controls and tools in place to monitor and follow up risk cases is mandatory to sail through the digital value chain,” says Carlos Marques, the product marketing manager at WeDo Technologies.
There’s also a need for CSPs to acquire new skills and knowledge in order to embrace the evolution of their business models. Revenue assurance processes and systems must be capable of delivering appropriate insights and consolidation of revenue management and revenue assurance systems is inevitable.
Of course, such granular analysis of network patterns will become part of what CSPs can offer their partners. “CSPs must be able to provide added value to companies beyond just the connectivity of devices,” says Menier. “This will come through layering advanced analytics onto the data flows from industrial sensors to divine actionable insights that are easily relatable to all business stakeholders. CSPs need to evolve by harnessing data analytics and integrating it seamlessly with their infrastructure and back-office systems in order to avoid introducing greater complexity. Revenue assurance will no longer be a tactical measure, but a key strategic business function.”
Flexibility is also important, says Remaud. “Traditional software solutions are simply too slow and challenging to deploy effectively and fast enough. The capability to access cloud-based smart data science services that can help orchestrate the provisioning, revenue and cost management of these additional services is going to be critical.”
In the final analysis, technological solutions furnish only part of the solution. A cultural evolution is also required, says Marques: “The real question now is; are you going to restrict a business assurance approach to the teams that are able to adapt to your way of working? Or will you deliver a tool that looks more closely at how the different stakeholders goals and work habits to boost their productivity, while minimising user errors?”
Jackson says the challenge is at least partly skills based. “It’s essential CSPs have the necessary skills to understand the emerging and evolving business models,” he explains, warning that without these skills it will be impossible for them to develop revenue assurance systems that “actually give them the necessary insight.”