One presentation at the recent ETIS Gathering in Athens produced complete silence from the audience. This was followed by heated debate, then silent acceptance and then the sound of notes being written. The thesis was that we are now beyond the age of post paid billing, that we are now entering a Post Billing era.
The presentation, from an operator, had at its heart the fundamental principle that real time charging is now a ‘must have’ for operators. If networks are to become true commerce platforms – both mobile and fixed – then the priority is to adopt the internet business model. Customers will now demand advice of charge, real time recommendations and alerts from their operator. And these are not just differentiators, these are now ‘table stakes’ because for the new competitors such as Apple, Google and Amazon that is simply ‘business as usual.’
It was also based on the fact that, particularly in mobile, ‘bills’ are superfluous. Whilst incumbents will have to keep at least a part of their postpaid business in place, most customers will demand statements on demand. It makes sense that if a customer receives an alert from his service provider that he is close to his limit that he can immediately download – or at least request – a statement of what he has been doing to push him to the limit.
This is by no means a new idea or concept. The presentation was different for other reasons.
1) it was presented by an operator and will be implemented by the operator during the forthcoming transformation project
2) the technology that can make this happen is now here, tried and tested
3) everyone in the room knew he was right.
The problem – or opportunity – depending on whether you went to work at an operator or a vendor this morning is that only 10 percent of operators have real time capability in their postpaid environments. This is according to a survey sponsored by Openet and carried out by Telecoms.com. If everyone in the room agrees that this is what is required, then there will be a lot of work to do over the next few months and years.