ET Bureau: In an increasingly changing enterprise landscape, how can enterprises effectively manage billing operations?
Yael Ilan: The straightforward answer to this question is that an enterprise needs to build and maintain a unified billing infrastructure. This response may be oversimplified or even obvious, although it is certainly true.
Market conditions, customer expectations and available technologies are constantly changing and must be easily incorporated into an enterprise’s billing infrastructure. The effectiveness of a billing operation to serve the needs of an enterprise resides in an enterprise’s ability to manage, control, and adjust its billing infrastructure both independently and quickly.
Operational efficiency, business agility, better customer service, and prompt reaction to market changes are just a few quick examples of the benefits of maintaining a unified framework for billing operations.
Good billing processes can even be used as a competitive advantage to attract customers. Imagine a marketing manager at a large telecommunications provider, watching a commercial of a special promotion from one of its most important competitors and being able to launch a competitive promotion in response in one day using its flexible billing infrastructure.
The alternative of overlapping billing systems and processes will only create unnecessary operational complexities that ultimately are a burden on the performance and output of an enterprise.
ET Bureau: Do business rules deployed by an enterprise have a significant impact on the cost operating billing infrastructure?
Yael Ilan: Well, the answer to this question depends on the billing infrastructure that an enterprise has in place.
If the billing infrastructure is modern – meaning that changes to the operational workflows and business processes can be made efficiently and independently by the enterprise – then the answer to this question is that the cost for deploying new business rules or adjusting existing one is low.
If the enterprise is using a legacy billing system that requires the enterprise to rely on the vendor or another third party to perform outdated change request procedures every time an operational workflow or business process needs to be created or adjusted – which is surprisingly still common – then the cost of maintaining the billing operations will be rather high. The same can be said for situations when an enterprise is using separate and overlapping billing systems for different business units.
A modern billing platform and infrastructure can be considered an integral part of an enterprise’s business strategy. It will enable an enterprise to independently deploy dynamic business rules to support new products or services and launch new promotions and marketing plans in a matter of days and even hours. This also allows an enterprise to manage its own business models and dramatically reduces the costs of its billing operation.
ET Bureau: What steps can be followed by organizations to launch new products and services with a faster time-to-market?
Yael Ilan: The possibilities are limitless if a company has the correct billing tools and infrastructure in place. Modern billing operations should be able to quantify every transaction – both financial and non-financial – being able to charge and bill for any product and service!
This means that the billing tools and platform must be powerful to handle complex billing scenarios but also be intuitive and easy to use.
Every business user with a good idea can independently design and deploy a creative product offering or service package instead of having to rely on technically skilled resources. As such, instead of acting as a bottleneck, billing becomes a source of revenue generation, enabling enterprises to effectively monetize.
Billing can be very complex, although the sky should be the only limit for offering infinite types of products and services with the correct infrastructure. Take, for example, the market for telecommunications services where service providers are forced to offer unlimited calls and messaging packages and provide large volumes of data, all at a relatively low price.
If a telco – or any other enterprise faced with strong competitive pressures and increasing customer expectations – wants to entice customers, it needs to offer more to them.
ET Bureau: What tools and technologies can be used to keep billing operations updated for modern use? How do you see it panning out over the next year?
Yael Ilan: In the coming year, digital transformation projects will certainly continue to expand in many enterprise segments. Many of these initiatives started as a result of the stay-at-home and social distancing requirements. However, the momentum for digital transformation will continue because of the operational and economic benefits.
Going forward and much due to the realities of this past year, enterprises will be forced to rethink the way that they sell their products and services, market themselves and fundamentally operate.
Billing is a significant part of digital transformation projects. As part of this ongoing transition, more billing-related operations are moving to the Cloud. At the same time, billing processes are becoming increasingly automated.
Partnership ecosystems will also have increasing importance in order to support new business opportunities and models.
With over 20 years of experience in the telecom and software industries, Yael manages FTS’ operations, including research and development of FTS’ family of convergent charging, billing, policy control and payment solutions, projects delivery and customer support.
Prior to joining FTS, Yael held several managerial positions in Amdocs USA and Amdocs Israel Professional Services groups, supporting large North American and European communication service providers. Yael also served as an independent consultant of operations management and control for high-tech and low-tech companies.
Yael holds a B.A from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University in Economics and Business Administration and a professional Diploma in Computer Sciences.