As part of a feature on telecom billing services for the ICT channel, Union Street was recently asked by leading industry magazine, Comms Dealer, to provide comment on key focus areas for R&D over the past twelve months and whether telecom billing software fulfils a greater purpose for its users. Here’s what our Head of Sales & Marketing, Vincent Disneur, had to say.
No one would disagree that as the market moves away from WLR3 and towards converged next-gen network services, the product portfolios of CPs are increasing exponentially. This increased choice offers huge potential for differentiation but has also made it more challenging for CPs to prepare packages that are both competitive and profitable. Often a CP will have to visit multiple portals and contact numerous suppliers when building a quote for data connectivity services like broadband, fibre, ethernet, lease lines and so on.
Much of our focus over the past few years has been on easing this challenge for CPs and in creating greater synergy with the provisioning process. For example, we have introduced our ‘Quote2Cash’ (Q2C) software into aBILLity. Q2C enables CPs to enter their requirements for connectivity services just once then, through integration with suppliers’ ordering systems, Q2C returns detailed results on the prices and features of matching services from those suppliers in a clear, easily comparable format.
To further integrate the billing and provisioning processes. we have also introduced workflows to manage how quotes and orders progress to fulfilment, ensuring that nothing is missed when setting up a new service, and populating data into the billing platform so that it can be billed.
Knowing that time is money and that CPs are busy people, we’ve concentrated a lot of development resource into continually improving the processing power and performance of our aBILLity platform. aBILLity already leads the market in terms of speed, importing and rating up to 20,000,000 CDRs per hour, but we’ve found some innovative ways of increasing this throughput significantly. We’re also working to boost processing speeds for generating and dispatching invoices. These performance boosts will be introduced in coming updates of aBILLity.
MOBILE BILL LIMITS
The furore around mobile bill limits might have died down following its controversial introduction back in October, but it still represents a significant risk for CPs. To help mitigate this risk we’ve introduced functionality for recording limits and for alerting CPs if a bill cap is or is about to be exceeded. We’re also working with some of the leading mobile suppliers to the channel with the aim of integrating with their systems to expedite the alert process and perhaps even automate line barring if a customer has overspent.
A GREATER PURPOSE
The importance of a robust and accurate billing engine cannot be overstated, but it would be a mistake for anyone to believe that generating invoices is all that a billing platform has to offer. To a large extent, the ‘greater purpose’ is defined by our CP customers. We hold regular consultations to understand the challenges they are facing and use their feedback to guide development of our solutions accordingly.
Based on these consultations, aBILLity has become progressively more sophisticated. It increasingly acts as a profit centre and complete end to end solution for comms provisioning, billing, and customer management. It delivers real-time revenue analysis, fraud detection, supplier reconciliation, and has been used as a central hub of integration with countless other operational support systems.
There’s still more to come. In this year alone, Union Street is set to spend in excess of £2,000,000 on the research and development of our products. Our overarching goal is to help our clients to maximise profitability, work more efficiently and gain a competitive advantage in the market place.