Convergent charging is on the increase. This is a) not surprising and b) means something very different than it did a few years ago. Infonetics have just published their Service Provider driven Convergent Charging Strategies Survey, which reveals that convergent charging is now about more than billing and payments.
“Operators view it as a critical tool in shortening time to market for new services,” says Shira Levine, directing analyst for BSS. It is no longer about ‘converging’ telecoms services. It seems that the threat from the agile OTT players is now forcing action and Service Providers are pressuring vendors “to up the ante by building improved reliability, scalability and configurability in their products,” according to Levine. The first two would be considered table stakes, but the ‘configurability’ drive is slightly newer and critical to the next couple of years. To be able to react to ‘right now’ requirements of customers, the business must be able to respond ‘right now’ as well.
Recently there have been discussions about who is now buying IT. The potential of analytics and real time control is now being leveraged by Marketing and Customer Service, amongst other teams. The question is whether there is an internal power struggle going on or are Service Providers actually managing to change their IT procurement culture? Interestingly, 62 percent of Service Providers believe that while IT will ‘own’ the technology – presumably for reasons of order and the avoidance of things blowing up or being hacked – the purchase decisions will be made by multiple departments.
This is excellent news. It signals that a collaborative approach and an acknowledgement of the potential of new configurable technology is flowing into the business side of organisations. To defend against (or partner with) OTT players, business savvy will be the best way of addressing the issue (see here for a case study of a successful DOB implementation).
Depending on whether you – as a vendor – are selling replacement platforms and systems or bolt on solutions, the fact that fully 38 percent of respondents say that their new convergent charging solution will replace existing solutions is good (or bad) news. Indeed Infonetics believes that this may be the tipping point for widespread replacement.
Going a little deeper, the fact that ‘shared data plans,’ ‘hybrid accounts’ and ‘day passes’ are all cited as drivers, the most often quoted was ‘real time credit control for post paid customers.’
Whether this means that Service Providers have fully grasped the potential of Direct Operator Billing, whether they know they need to be more involved in the mobile financial life of their customers or are just needing to keep a grasp of the financials, it is all positive news for the industry.
One other benefit and TOP application of Convergent charging is across products and across domains bundles. In our case, it is bundles of CDMA, Fixed Voice and Broadband and many other products.
In our business, following are the major considerations:
1. Reduced TCO of having many billing systems
2. Reduced TTM
3. Capability to introduce bundles across Fixed and Wireless domains
4. Capability to introduce Hybrid packages
5. Capability to integrate our PCRF and PCEF functionality with our Convergent Billing System.
6. Off course Real time credit control for all types of customers