CSPs chase digital charging in the name of virtual agility

Tony Poulos
09 Mar 2016

Finally, it seems, CSPs have moved from a defensive position towards the digital world to embracing it. Whether there is excitement in the corridors or change is being fueled by fear actually does not matter. The important thing is that radical change is happening.

A recent survey from Openet among operators showed that they are now seriously addressing the fact that they are not agile enough. They know that it should take days not weeks to build offers, but they admit that the reality is that it still takes months.

That over-used word “agile” must be eating into the brain of telco execs worldwide, but it is purely relative. If something took six months to do a year ago, and it now takes three now, then it can be assumed a CSP has become agile, or at least more agile than it was. It is only when, quite unfairly, they are compared to their digital service provider (DSP) cousins – who work in time gaps of seconds to hours to launch, orchestrate and charge for new services – that they are deemed non-agile.

They also know that charging must go digital as their world goes digital. The customer experience must resemble digital players such as Uber, Apple or AirBnB. Post-paid subscriptions and complex accounting do not exist in this world. Encouragingly, CSPs are embracing the fact that “payments” is the new billing. Making the charging and payments piece easy, instant and secure is now a priority.

Even traditional billing and charging vendors are revolutionizing the way they offer their services – not only to help bring CSPs into the digital era, but also to service the raft of new DSPs that are emerging that don’t wish to establish in-house systems they know will becoming their legacy in the future.

In a bold move, AsiaInfo recently announced that its complete BSS offering is now available in the cloud, via Amazon Web Services. It is bold in the sense that – ultimately – this is where the market is going and someone had to kickstart the discussion.

The approach will change from organization to organization. Some will go for the greenfield approach and essentially build a new charging model without having to think about the impact on legacy systems. Dealing with legacy systems is still seen as a major challenge.

The good news is that, generally speaking, operators have more strings to their bow than the digital service providers whom they see as eroding their revenues. Many of even the biggest digital players rely on advertising for the bulk of their revenue. And this is against a backdrop of growing pressure on the traditional advertising world. Ad-blocking is increasing exponentially. Data protection is about to be placed in the way of personalized advertising and more and more operators are putting up ad-blocking mechanisms themselves.

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