While one half of the industry talks of SDN and NFV, not to mention LTE, the other half is trying to get bills out of the door, accurately and on time. While cutting costs.
After the common session at the recent ETIS Community Gathering in Budapest, the audience broke up into working groups to get down to the business of making the dreams of the common sessions a reallity. Customer self service people went to the customer self service room, business intelligence people went to the business intelligence room and billing people went to the revenue management room.
And reality hit.
It came from the ice water realisation that we are doing it again. We are discussing the future as if it is the present. And the billing professionals are still grappling with a very different set of priorities. Legacy systems were the most popular topic. While some were figuring out how to migrate from legacy to something resembling a modern system, others were being asked to keep using the legacy as long as it did not fall over, exhausted.
The billing guys from the operators were asked, over the course of the day and a half session whether they were being asked to get systems ready for OTT partnerships.
The billing guys from the operators were asked, over the course of the day and a half session whether they were being asked to get systems ready for Direct Operator Billing.
The billing guys from the operators were asked, over the course of the day and a half session whether they were being asked to get systems ready for M2M or IoT.
This does not, of course, mean that other parts of the business are not busy putting ink to paper for thousands of new partnership deals. In fact, given the industry’s track record in this area, it is quite likely. Soon, then, there will be the email that asks whether Billing can handle M2M business models which are being launched the day after tomorrow.
This does not, of course, mean that there was no innovation happening behind the door marked Revenue Management. The legacy question was being discussed thoroughly. One operator was migrating an entire customer base to a new system using the same system that ports customers to another operator when they churn. A couple were proposing building a completely new company, with a green field IT environment. It would be cheaper and quicker.
Sympathy. I worked for 14 years for a big telco who were certainly taking it seriously when I left. Before that I worked for Hertz who tackled this problem in the last century. A global solution was essential and driven by the US parent. Sometimes short term profit pressures can get in the way of decision making; when there is a blazing platform, it focuses the mind..
I have some instinctive sympathy for the last attitude. Was there much talk of outsourcing? ‘Take this [connectivity] mess away and do it for less, while I concentrate on the brave new world of digital services’?