At certain points, the atmosphere in the meeting resembled a group therapy session, and not an ETIS working group. It was an excellent meeting and, in our view, the best way of discussing the real issues that we are facing, as we are “now working out the revenue models that will exist in two years’ time,” according to Openet CEO, Niall Norton, who welcomed us to Dublin.
Among the many issues that were covered, a couple of very interesting ideas emerged. And there were many issues that were covered, for instance, Brite:Bill presented the results of their survey that revealed that customers believe it is more likely that aliens walk among us than they will receive a bill that has anything to do with their customer experience. There were presentations on the thesis that payments are the new billing, that Carrier Billing is a major opportunity for operators and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of benchmarking – an exercise that the group will undertake between now and the next meeting in October. Revenue assurance (RA) was discussed in some depth, with one operator believing that “RA should exist in every department. Perhaps not as a system or set of tools, but as an attitude.” There was even a debate about whether we need billing anymore.
Our very own Tony Poulos discussed the full potential of RA and believes that the next opportunity is combining the ideas and methodologies of RA with efforts to improve the customer experience. “Why not monitor social media channels, such as Twitter, and work out who the biggest influencers are in your arena? Reward them, look after them and they will become your biggest fans and will influence other customers’ behaviour. Do the opposite, and the negative influence will have a greater impact.”
At some points the discussion sessions almost went from being interactive to hyper-active. Heated debate about the relationship between IT and Networks, about how far advanced we are in integrating policy and real-time charging, about how to best use the resulting tools, and who will own them, and about the relationship between Business Intelligence and RA. This is an idea that deserves a lot more thought.
It was an excellent forum, with excellent refreshment at the oldest pub in Dublin (thanks again to Openet), and an agenda for the next meeting alongside the ETIS Gathering in Copenhagen already being prepared. Overviews of the payments world will be discussed, alongside an evaluation of the vendor landscape and presentations on the challenges of billing for IoT and partnerships. And by then, the new ETIS Billing benchmark project will be underway.