As part of a feature on telecom billing services for the ICT channel, Union Street was recently asked by leading industry magazine, Comms Dealer, how telecoms billing systems can assist ICT resellers with keeping up in a fast-changing industry. In addition to this, we were asked what advantages there are for ICT resellers that manage the billing of end-users directly as opposed to outsourcing this function to a supplier.
Here’s what our Head of Sales & Marketing, Vincent Disneur, had to say.
As the communications market continues to converge and evolve, there are a huge number of opportunities opening up for forward thinking CPs. In many cases, taking control of billing with robust telecoms billing systems can assist ICT resellers in capitalising on these emerging opportunities, to scaling up operations and to staying agile.
Bringing billing in-house by investing in your own billing system, as opposed to outsourcing this function to an external supplier, offers many benefits. Perhaps the greatest of these is that it gives CPs true flexibility to cherry pick services from suppliers and build a diverse, competitive and profitable portfolio of services. By extension, this enables them to differentiate themselves in the end-user market place and gain a competitive edge over rivals that may not enjoy the same flexibility.
A typical example of this can be seen in the way CPs will use a telecoms billing system to leverage their economies of scale. For example, a CP could buy 100 trunks from a supplier each with 100 free minutes (equalling a total of 10,000 minutes). Then they simply onward sell this to 100 customers with a mark-up. Unfortunately, in this scenario any minutes that are not used are effectively wasted.
Using aBILLity, what a CP could do instead is bulk buy 8,000 minutes from that supplier, then use the billing platform to divvy up those minutes as they see fit. Knowing that most customers won’t use their full allocation of minutes, they could even sell 100 trunks with 100 free minutes just as before but having paid far less. Providing this air gap between suppliers and end-users is just one way that CPs can use a billing system to boost profitability and create competitive packages for end-users.
Our aBILLity platform is very intuitive and easy to use but, for CPs with limited resources that might be daunted by the prospect of bringing billing in-house, we also offer a bureau service. Our team will manage much of the day to day running of the platform, including the collection and import of call detail records (CDRs). They also oversee the preparation and dispatch of all your bills. With our bureau service, CPs can enjoy all the benefits afforded by taking control of their billing whilst outsourcing most of the work involved to a team of billing experts at an extremely cost-effective price.
There’s a growing desire from end-users to deal with one supplier for all communications and IT related services. Meeting this demand with a truly competitive package is likely to require a CP to work with multiple suppliers. At the same time, end-users are looking for one consolidated bill for all services, complete with executive summaries and management reports, that provide a clear and concise picture of how their services are performing. Reconciling these two expectations will become increasingly problematic for CPs that are not managing their own billing through a single platform.
There will always be a place for CPs of all shapes and sizes but, for those CPs which are reliant on suppliers to manage billing on their behalf, it seems inevitable that it will become harder to stay competitive and to define a unique selling proposition.