This article first published at DisruptiveViews
While the industry debates virtualization, clouds and real-time responsiveness, spare a thought for the people in good old-fashioned billing. It may be that a time is coming when customers will look back at actually receiving a bill with a possibly fond but wry smile. It may be that payments is the new billing.
It may also be that – ultimately – telcos will become agile enough to partner a range of companies in a range of arenas in order to offer compelling products. But while that whole process is taking place, billions of billing cycles will also be taking place. And the people who are in charge of making sure that those billions of bills are accurate and get out on time will not be particularly aware of the intense and urgent discussions about real-time responsiveness, policy management, context-aware marketing offers and personalization.
The question is how best to manage the cost and complexity of producing those bills and still make plans for the demands of future billing.
The answer is not easy and is certainly painful – especially for some of those people producing those billions of bills, who could well end up in the reject pile.
We have been discussing the risks of full-scale transformations for years. We have talked about outsourcing until the bar has closed. We have considered bolting on bits and pieces since the programmer who knew the code (and no one else did) retired. All of these options make sense in one scenario or another.
One strategy that’s getting a lot of attention is to embrace the legacy yet start again – all at the same time. It is not necessarily the case that the newer system will be the most efficient at grinding out those billions of bills. Some operators have realized this and are keeping customers that still expect bills on older systems that are – relatively – cheap to run and reliable in grinding out said billions of bills, accurately and on time.