Why are operators prioritizing billing in their infrastructure modernization journey?

To thrive in this fast-evolving, customer-centric digital-first world, CSPs must accommodate new expectations and deliver a seamless billing experience to ensure a holistic positive buying experience.

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Monali Supramanyam

Amdocs

15 Nov 2022

Why are operators prioritizing billing in their infrastructure modernization journey?

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Digital customers are evolving faster than ever. With everything else like network speed and the product and services being equal, excellent customer experience creates a true differentiator for the service providers improving loyalty and reducing churn.

Hence, service providers are quickly embracing agile transformation in their customer service in addition to modernizing their network, products and services. Billing is an integral part of the customer journey and critical in creating an end-to-end seamless experience.

In addition, 5G networks enable the launch of brand-new services. The operators must be able to bill them in order to monetize these new opportunities.

The buying behavior continues to evolve, considerably influencing the seller ecosystem. The new generation of digital-first buyers not only demand more services, more flexibility, and a simple, real-time, transparent experience but also want all their services to be personalized. Every customer has a unique personality and expects the service providers to cater to their individual preferences.

Network technology is also emerging, bringing the telecoms an opportunity to deliver innovative B2C and B2B services, enable empowered buying and create new revenue streams. Service providers, too, have embraced this change with open arms by modernizing their network, launching new and innovative products and services and boosting their operations overall. Simultaneously the CSPs also focus on enhancing customer experience from the moment the customer makes the first contact to the time they end their buying journey.

However, customers view billing as a part of their buying journey. They have come to expect the same omnichannel, seamless experience with their billing and payment experience as they expect with their product selection and buying.

Flexible billing is crucial for supporting new buying trends of the digital-first buyer

Over the last decade, the telecom service sector has been undergoing significant changes to keep up with the changing buyer behavior. The shift is most evident in telcos' quest to evolve beyond being only connectivity providers to become technology partners for its customer and deliver added value to their clients. In a recent paper, STL Partners talk about the coordination age and how the telcos are adapting to this age and focusing their efforts on becoming a 'techco'.

The telcos need to take a more comprehensive approach to deliver communications and digital experiences to buyers today. The telecom sector has widely adopted subscription and usage-based billing models to offer better value to its buyers and help drive revenue by attracting new customers. Usage-based models support innovation and disrupt competitors, enabling service providers to get a stronger foothold in the market and drive customer retention. In addition, these pricing models provide the flexibility the install base customers need to try new features at low risk and speed up "time to revenue" for new products and services.

The new generation of digital-first buyers are transferring their personal buying habits into a business buying environment. As consumers, they are used to a seamless shopping experience and expect the same interactions for business purchases.

The CSPs are enhancing the buying experience to give consumers and businesses more options and faster access to services. Self-service portals allow customers to sign up and change subscription and rate plans almost instantly, giving them better control and more visibility into their services and usage patterns.

Monetization of new network standards demands a robust billing system

A powerful billing system can enable newer revenue streams.

With 5G, the game has changed. The new network standards bring with them the emergence of network embedded services, network slicing and the ability to spin up individual sub-networks with quality of service (QoS). CSPs investing heavily in infrastructure and network modernization are looking for ways to enable innovative B2B, B2C and B2B2X services and quickly monetize these new 5G-driven opportunities.

The potential number of 5G use cases is vast. Service providers must be ready to support new use cases and try out new business models quickly and cost-effectively to harness the power of 5G. And to enable a quick launch of new services, a flexible and robust billing system is required.

In addition to new standards, the Telecom world is also witnessing abundant innovative technologies like IoT, Edge Computing etc. that bring to market:

  • Newer monetization models like subscription-based, usage-based and outcome-based billing,
  • Unique business models like B2C, B2B and B2B2X and
  • Novel channels like the channel partners, B2B and B2C digital marketplaces

CSPs understand that to survive in the new world, they must adopt these new technologies and business models, which may complicate the quote-to-cash journey. Accurate revenue mapping is required to launch and profit from these innovative endeavors. In this world, billing plays a more critical role in bridging business, IT and network functions to the transactions and customer engagement happening at the front office.

Legacy billing systems do not have the flexibility needed to deliver an accurate, transparent experience in an omnichannel, cross-product, multi-technology ecosystem that drives new revenue streams.

The right billing platform can help drive better and more insightful business decisions.

Accurate billing demands that the system communicates with backend databases and connects them to the front end to be delivered to the end-user. The more agile and flexible the monetization model - the nimbler and more communicative the billing system must be to accommodate the creation and delivery of newer revenue models on the fly.

Billing becomes omniscient in monitoring and managing customer data. The data generated through the Billing system can be analyzed to drive insightful business decisions.

Conclusion

To thrive in this fast-evolving, customer-centric digital-first world, CSPs must accommodate new expectations and deliver a seamless billing experience to ensure a holistic positive buying experience.

Flexible buying must be accompanied by flexible billing. To become a technology provider, the CSPs must enable their infrastructure to deliver emerging services and be prepared to better accommodate these new omnichannel buying experiences, pricing models, services and delivery variations. Above everything, CSPs need pliable billing capabilities to support an integrated and inclusive omnichannel strategy that will bring these varied elements of changing buying behavior together. The new generation of customers demands a different approach to billing. Billing should be an enabler to cater to digital-first consumers and businesses and for CSPs to respond rapidly to market changes and customer demand.

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