Challenges of legacy billing processes in era of fast-paced digital transformation
There were days when billing was considered just as the trivial part of the whole IT services, but that was more than a decade ago. The investment in ‘Billing Management’, says Vaibhav Mehta of Sterlite Tech Software,was just a small proportion of the total spending of Communication Service Providers (CSPs) with ‘Network Infrastructure’ taking a major share.
Limitation of legacy systems was the main issue troubling the billing heads and it is restricting them from enhancing the customer experience. The operator is spending high expenditure and facing significant business risks as they are prone to glitches and recurrent breakdowns. These systems also lack flexibility and scalability in tune with the mounting data pressure on the operator.
As the digital technologies become more advanced and accessible, telecom billing process has to evolve with that change. Over the years, subscribers have shifted towards online payments from traditional paper bills. Business Service Solutions (BSS) is going through a transformation from flat-rate billing systems to real-time and near real-time rating and charging mechanisms, fragmented product catalogue to centralised product catalogue for the complex offerings, physical to digital customer onboarding, and brick and mortar store to digitised Telco products and services.
Taking a cue from such scenarios, the CSPs are increasingly looking at different options to modernise their existing platforms to get the benefits of digital transformation.
Future of BSS: Where it impacts the most over the legacy BSS platform?
- Cloud-based BSS: Simplification of processes and operational efficiencies are the two most important factors driving the billing systems to shift towards the cloud. It helps the operators to reduce capital expenditure as part of their operating expenditure model allowing the operator to focus their efforts on other business-related activities rather than worrying about the billing processes.
- Centralised product catalogue: It helps the operator to manage both OSS & BSS applications and offer services, update pricing, discounts, service specifications, all controlled by a single team. Centralised configuration-driven architecture, an automated push of product data to CRM & downstream applications reduces manual work and development cost. It helps multiple product owners to seamlessly collaborate and manage products easily and ensures faster time-to-market for new offerings.
- Real-time BSS: Legacy or classic billing systems were designed to serve the needs of prepaid mobile users and offer very limited capability to expand. But today’s digital customers require accurate service usage information in real-time and want it to be displayed on their digital channels anytime and anywhere, irrespective of prepaid or postpaid services. Other benefits of a real-time BSS are instant provisioning of digital services, real-time usage based on application, real-time tariff changes, personalised recommendations, real-time notifications, location-based offers, hassle-free self-service options etc.
- Data analytics: Legacy BSS never focused on what the customers really wanted. Advanced data analytics helps operators to mine relevant information from various network elements in real-time to influence and optimise the customer experience. The Real-time Digital Analytics ensures network cost optimisation and revenue augmentation by analysing tariff plan design & performance analytics, cell-level traffic profile, campaign performance analytics, competitor and market analytics etc.
- Redefined customer engagement and experience management: Consumers today want complete control on how they interact across customer touch points i.e. Mobile, IVR, Call Centre, Store, Chatbots, Social Media, OTT Apps etc. To offer unified user experience across all channels, operators have to digitise their products and services through e-commerce portal, which is available 24*7*365 days. It also digitises customer lifecycle management right from Customer Onboarding, Plan Customisation, Number Selection, E-KYC, Online Payments, Service Fulfillment to Digital Care.
The next-gen BSS should be based on key principles such as DevOps-based continuous delivery for faster time-to-market, REST & Open API support to ensure seamless integration with existing and future technologies, open source container (Docker) NFV adoption to eliminate the cost of OS & Hypervisor and to offer performance improvement in hardware consumption.
The author of this blog is Vaibhav Mehta of Sterlite Tech Software