It’s generally agreed that real-time is good and that operators must evolve toward a real-time BSS framework to continue growing in the current data-centric mobile world. The big question is ‘how to get there’.
Well publicised news reports remind us that some ‘big bang’ billing transformation projects don’t always go to plan. In fairness, most large IT projects have hiccups along the way, often a result of ‘scope creep’ or loose project management. This is something experienced from time to time by all operators and all BSS vendors. Any CIO will tell you that not all IT projects run smoothly.
But some projects’ problems snowball into catastrophe. When a new billing system causes tens of thousands of customers to churn, customers to receive incorrect and multiple invoices, and operators unable to service customer orders, then the commercial impacts of a calamitous BSS install are clear.
Such a catastrophic project was recently voted as number 3 ‘Turkey of the Year’ by a US mobile news service (Blackberry got the coveted number 1 spot). This level of crash, which is a CIO’s nightmare, has happened before with big bang billing transformations, and will probably happen again.
The pressure to update and change billing systems is often driven by marketing. IT need to provide the tools for operators to charge for and make money from all the new products and offers they want to roll out. As we all know the number and complexity of new offers is increasing and the time to market is getting shorter. Given this the promised nirvana of cutting everything over to a new billing system in one go and straight away being able to keep the marketing team happy may seem very attractive and looks good on powerpoint, but it doesn’t always work out as planned.
Big bang approaches to BSS /billing transformations are risky. There is no magic wand that a vendor can wave benignly over an operator’s BSS stack and it goes to sleep and wakes up with real-time super powers. Moving to a real-time BSS architecture takes time, planning and hard work – but the results are worth it.
Analysys Mason, the telecoms / IT consulting firm, have just written an Openet sponsored white paper called “Creating a Real-Time Infrastructure for BSS and Revenue Management” and one of the main sections of the paper deals with implementation challenges. It goes into detail showing how operators can evolve from voice centric IN based charging for pre-paid and batch based billing systems for post-paid customers. Rather than go on about this paper, I’d encourage you to read it for yourself. It’s a strong and detailed overview of what real-time revenue management is and, perhaps, most importantly goes into some detail on how to evolve existing BSS stacks to real-time.