My favorite acronym in high tech is ‘POTS’ – meaning, ‘plain old telephone service.’ It’s not a term I’ve heard in a long while, and it probably gives you a clue about my age. Raise your (electronic) hand if you remember POTS. The black rotary dial phone, the excitement when that was replaced by a touch tone dial – with a 20 ft cord so you could drag it around the house! The advent of cordless phones – big and heavy and with the super awesome antenna (so fun to smack the antenna back into place when you hung up).
At the time, it seemed like a lot of change was happening to our phones, but those ‘advances’ are distinct memories over my childhood and teen years – in other words, the move from black rotary to cordless (but still wireline) happened over the space of a decade or more.
Take a moment and think about the changes in your phone usage over the most recent decade – a lot more has changed than the way you dial and the color of your phone. And then take another moment and imagine you are trying to run a ‘telephone’ company. It ain’t pretty, is it?
For starters, there is new equipment and new networks. There are also new customers, new partners and new sources of revenue. Which bring new contracts, new agreements, new needs, new billing rates, and new complaints, all to be delivered and managed across new geographies on new devices. And all the while, you still have to maintain support for those plain, black rotary phones.
And the changes aren’t just hitting the telco industry. Other industries are looking to use telco infrastructure to support their business models – Amazon needs to deliver books and Apple needs to deliver music, to name two ubiquitous examples. Suddenly, there’s lots of “stuff” flowing through the networks built by telcos. And people will pay for that stuff – if only the Telcos can find a way to manage it.
And that’s why I get really excited about telco billing solutions. Because instead of my parents getting the phone bill once a month, with a predictable set of charges, I now have real time access to my bill on line, so I can track how much my teenager has been hitting the internet on her phone, and how many texts the family has sent, and how much it all costs. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Somewhere, someone’s got track the usage of my cell phones, my computer, and my iPad. What were the Apps I downloaded, and did the pricing meet the terms of the contracts, and not only will I be billed, but with the app supplier get their share, along with Apple and my telco carrier. And, if I’m over on my texting, what’s the new rate to be charged, and when does that kick in? And what about a pre-paid phone for my youngest for the summer? If she goes over on her minutes, how does that effect the rates I pay?
And all that’s just for my family and me. Now scale that up to support a vast customer base, partner network and digital supply chain. This is where POTS has evolved into what we call Telco 2.0. In the Telco 2.0 world, business models change constantly to meet the needs of new users, new revenue streams spring up and fade away within a matter of months and the amount of “stuff” flowing through the networks keeps growing and growing. And in this world, content may be King, but Billing is the power behind the throne - with the power to expand the empire, or bring it to its knees.
Given the pace of change, what’s a service provider to do? Find the most agile, configurable, usable, scalable, awesome real time billing solution available. The best place to start: visit SAP Billing for Telco. If you’re not convinced by our marketing claims, simply take the Telco 2.0 Challenge and we’ll prove it to you.