To some, saying Billing is sexy is kind of like putting Michael Moore on the cover of People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue. But in reality, it depends on what your definition of Billing is (the definition of sexy being what it is).
I think of the word “billing” like the word “drive.” Today we think of “drive” as something we do with a vehicle, but the term comes from the days when vehicles were horse drawn. The horses had to be driven in order to move forward. Similarly, billing now encompasses new concepts, like real-time charging and payment.
Here’s where the sexy part comes in. The whole world seems to be raving about all of the things you can do with any kind of connected device – smart phone, tablet, PC, game deck and so forth. The really cool part is that you push a button on a screen and a heck of a lot of complex things happen in the background.
The consumer, or user, expects immediate satisfaction; I pushed the buy button, so this video better start streaming right NOW. But think about all of the real-time checks that have to happen in that scenario. Is the user authenticated? Has the payment transaction – be it based on subscription access, pay-per-use, pre-paid, or redemption – been executed successfully? Is the user entitled to access this video? Is the device identified? Is the right content format being streamed? Can the connection support the request? …All of that has to happen immediately or the user thinks, “man, this is so slow…let me go tweet about why I think this service bites.”
What’s sexy about Billing in this scenario? When that button gets pushed, the idea of payment and entitlement are things that originally derive from billing. Did the user pay for this? If not, then there’s no-go. If so, then kick the tires and light the fires. And if the payment/entitlement pieces doesn’t work flawlessly – oh pobrecito. Here come the inappropriate tweets and enraged calls to the overly expensive contact center.
So, billing is sexy, because it plays such a critical role in making sure that when we push that ‘go’ button – it goes. That gives us the warm fuzzies because we just bought our daughter a holiday gift, or finally got a chance to watch that TV episode we missed, or downloaded that song that reminds us of carefree days in high school when we cruised around in our best friend’s Datsun 280ZX with the T-top off.