Legacy telecom billing systems are hindering communications service providers (CSPs) in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America (EALA) from introducing new digital services to meet customer demand, compete more effectively and generate incremental revenues, a new survey from Accenture suggests.
Ninety-two per cent of CSP executives who participated in the survey said their billing systems impede the launch of new offers, and almost half (46pc) said their current billing capability is a major barrier to delivering new products and services to customers.
The survey, entitled ‘How Communications Service Providers Can Transform Telecom Billing Operations to Support a New Convergent, Digital Business,’ also found that CSPs worldwide are challenged by the proliferation of intelligent devices, increased customer sophistication, network commoditisation and new competitors that offer consumer content-heavy services, such as streaming video and audio.
CSPs cite billing system shortcomings
Survey participants cited three primary limitations of their billing systems: billing accuracy, billing for bundled services and capabilities for data services volume processing related to the growth of data traffic. Among the CSPs who responded:
- Sixty-six per cent cited billing accuracy as a key challenge because current billing platforms cannot handle the expanding array of new services and devices, and the resulting explosion in the amount of data consumed.
- Sixty per cent said billing for bundled services is a challenge.
- Sixty per cent said they are concerned with their system’s ability to process the volume of data typically generated with digital services.
The survey also found that configuring billing systems for introducing new products and services also poses additional challenges.
- Seventy per cent said their current billing capabilities delayed time-to-market, and 84pc said it takes two months or more to develop the billing capability – a major hurdle for CSPs given the critical importance of time-to-market in a highly competitive industry.
- Billing accuracy and costs (94pc of respondents, for each) were cited as the top 2 billing challenges their companies will face in the next two to three years due to the rapid move to digital content.
- Seventy per cent said their billing systems are not effectively integrated with other key systems, such as CRM, product catalogues, and order management.
“Communications service providers are under extreme pressure to introduce innovative, new services in an environment of shrinking development and product launch time frames because they know they can’t grow revenue by operating as traditional ‘communications’ businesses,” said Jean-Marie Pierron, billing lead, Accenture Communications, Media & Technology operating group.
“It is critical for CSPs to rethink their billing systems and design new infrastructure and processes that are attuned to the demands of today’s communication environment. This can improve their responsiveness to customer expectations, and also help enable them to support the kind of real-time, convergent billing that today’s bundled, digital services require.”