Bill and Charge – Will charging capability enhance CSPs’ roles in the digital ecosystem? Apr 2016 issue of VanillaPlus
Will CSPs use digital to dig out of their commoditisation hole?
It’s an odd phenomenon that a word associated with cheap watches, your desk calculator and early forms of computing has become synonymous with all forms of network-based activity but we are now firmly in the era of digital everything, writes George Malim
Setting aside thoughts of 1980s computer games, there is an inevitability about digital becoming the word to describe services, content and applications delivered over networks. After all, these aren’t physical services or products and terms such as weightless goods or adding an e in front of everything are too clunky for regular use with anything approaching a straight face, so digital it is.
Beyond acknowledging that this is a digital world composed of digital commerce, making up a digital value chain, supporting digital ecosystems that service digital tribes who work in digital businesses and live in digital homes in which they enjoy digital experiences, it doesn’t really matter what labels digital is appended to – even for service providers, who, of course, are now digital service providers.
What’s important about adding the word digital is what it signifies and I think that ultimately comes down to a notion of novelty. Digital shouldn’t be taken literally to mean non-analogue, instead it should be taken no more seriously than adding an i in front of phone or an e in front of commerce. It’s a descriptive tag, a little marketing graffiti, a shorthand for a new way of doing things.
Digital, in this definition, means collaborative, flexible and agile. It describes a world in which companies can compete with each other at the same time as being partners in other aspects of their businesses. It suggests a situation in which organisations can respond to shifting demands instantly, rapidly breaking down current structures and reforming quickly into something else.
Yet, in this digital era, some fundamentals remain rigidly traditional. Perhaps most important among these is that providers of content, services and apps and the providers of the delivery mechanism, the network, need to be paid. It doesn’t matter how the business model is constructed or which organisation pays which or how revenue is apportioned or shared, a common factor is the need for accurate, rapid and demonstrably fair charging for the consumer and the participants involved in delivering the service.
This could still be CSPs’ strongest opportunity. They know how to charge, they know how to apportion revenue and they know how to control credit. The question then remains one of whether CSPs can use this capability to become more than network and charging providers and become truly digital service providers, thereby gaining more of the revenue available in the digital ecosystem.
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