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‘Billing is a disaster’ – Industry leaders speak their mind at MWC

By March 11, 2015 No Comments

A few years ago if someone had said such a thing at a conference session at MWC there would have been outcry from the billing systems companies, but this year – nothing.  No challenges from the billing vendors present, just a nodding of heads from the operators indicating that when it comes to making money from new services traditional billing systems are a problem.

Given this climate it’s a fair assumption to make that changes are coming down the line.

The view that change is needed and is coming in BSS wasn’t just the outlook discussed at MWC. The findings of the recent industry survey would back this up.

The 2015 survey has just been published and with responses from over 2000 telecoms professionals it’s fair to say that this is the most comprehensive survey of trends in the industry.

The BSS section of the survey showed that operators, more than ever, are seeing the need for BSS to step up to the mark and drive new product innovation, enable new business models and provide the foundation on which operators can generate new revenue.  This is resulting in a bit of a shake up in BSS land, as time to market, self-service, partnering models and virtualization are all very much the hot topics that operators and thinking about. In fact many have gone past the thinking stage and are now spending money upgrading their BSS. Most (43%) of these BSS upgrades are being done in an incremental fashion, indicating that the days of large scale BSS / billing transformation projects may well be behind us. This makes sense as the pace of change in the industry is such that operators can’t wait years for large scale transformation projects as by the time they’re implemented they’ll already be out of date.

So, looking at the main areas where operators expect to see most activity. In terms of new services that operators are considering offering, 3rd party content is the most popular (67%), followed by launching digital life/M2M/ connected home services (63%) and then personalized, context aware offers (58%). These are not just tweaking existing offers, but represent new revenue streams to many operators and perhaps indicate that many operators have a healthy appetite for innovation. However, in many cases this appetite often is not sated as traditional BSS often falls short when enabling new products, as only 39% said that their existing BSS enables them to get services to market quickly enough. BSS complexity may be to blame here as 63% see system integration as costly and time consuming.

This focus on time to market, combined with the need for new revenue streams is shaking up how BSS is developed and implemented. Virtualization of BSS is now a reality and over 65% of operators said that they are either implementing virtualized BSS or have plans to do so. Of these the majority (28%) said that they will virtualize their BSS in 1 to 2 years. While capex reduction may well have been the initial focus of virtualization only 18% now see this as the primary driver, compared to 38% who see faster time to market as the main benefit of a virtualized BSS.

It’s perhaps not a coincidence that 58% of operators are looking seriously at personalized, context aware offers and that there’s a sharp increase in operator spending on customer self-service (42% of operators are planning to deploy or upgrade self-service applications in 2015). Real-time context aware offers represent a good opportunity for operators to sell the new 3rd party content services and the new digital lifestyle services that they’re looking to roll out and make money from. That is, assuming their BSS is up to it, and with some telco executives using the words’ disaster’ and ‘billing’ in the same sentence, it’s a fair guess that some existing platforms will need to be phased out.

To get a copy of the BSS section of the 2015 survey please click here.