Real-Time Functionality Gives Pricing Flexibility

One year on and not much has changed in the world of real-time responsiveness and charging. Or so it would seem, if you read the update of the TM Forum’s annual survey and report. (Infographic here). The biggest barriers remain ‘integration’ and ‘transforming internal processes’ which, if last year’s interviews are anything to go by, actually means ‘politics.’

There is a definite shift in one area, and that is what operators will use real-time functionality for in two years’ time. Last year, the majority said that ‘OTT collaboration’ was top priority. This year, in perhaps a more positive or combative stance, the priority was collaboration with third parties (non OTT), VoLTE, IoT and Carrier Billing. It seems that operators’ strategies are becoming clearer, which is good news.

Meanwhile, by far the most cited reason behind implementing real-time is ‘greater pricing and charging flexibility.’

Hopefully, this means that operators have finally realised that they must avoid commoditising data. Hopefully, also, it means that they are seriously thinking along the same lines as discussed in a recent paper from real-time specialist, Openet. If operators are implementing real-time functionality, they should be looking at how best to create personalised offers. And whatever the pressures within operators ‘not to impose’ on customers with personalised offers, it is, according to Openet’s paper, exactly what 63 percent of all age groups want.

Operators should, as we pointed out before, take the ‘Google stance’ and try things. Customers expect their service provider to know what they are doing and where they are, so make use of that knowledge. Make use of their habits, their historical data, think like retailers, think like digital service providers. Rebuild the business around the customer, not the network.

Real-time functionality and responsiveness will allow operators to become pro-active in how they engage with their customers. But it is not easy. As well as the business case, the planning, the procurement and the implementation, there is the issue of culture. Changing the attitudes of people who, for years, have gone to the office to look after the network into people who go to the office to look after customers is hard. But it is deal breaker if it does not happen. If operators cannot do that, then they must leave the consumer end of the market to others and concentrate on the wholesale market. This is not a criticism but a strategy well worth considering.

It may yet be that operators are now turning a corner. There is a greater awareness, throughout the business, that real-time functionality provides tools to do great things. One finding which is worth exploring as a standalone issue is that more of the business is part of the real-time purchasing process. This means greater impetus and quicker decision-making, but it also means IT will have governance issues and procurement will be next for ‘streamlining.’

This article was originally published by DisruptiveViews. It has been reproduced with their permission.

Alex Leslie
Alex Leslie
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He publishes DisruptiveViews, incorporating sister publication BillingViews.