As communication service providers (SPs) search for ways to differentiate themselves, delivering digital-first customer experiences continues to be a top priority. For the last decade, transformation has focused mostly on customer engagement layers and supporting omnichannel experiences such as discovery and purchasing.
Increasingly, however, SPs are focusing on transforming systems and processes across the complete end-to-end customer lifecycle, particularly when it comes to billing and payments. The industry is evolving past connectivity and to digital services; in the same vein, customer relationship management has evolved to become digital engagement. The third wave of transformation is coming, and it’s from billing and revenue management to digital monetization.
Digital Monetization 101
Digital monetization provides real-time processing and visibility of all customer charges. Customers have full transparency into accounts, balances, services and usage, creating a more optimal customer experience. This is achieved through a unified set of monetization services that are used across customer types, networks, payment methods and lines of business. For SPs, the benefits are enormous, from the shedding of extraneous systems and processes to the ability to gain customer insights that are actionable in real-time. This evolution requires a rethink of how to transform passive utility-style billing and collections processes into active engagement that will drive more revenue while simplifying and improving how customers buy, use and pay for products and services.
A Different Operating Model
Older, established industries, such as telco, are (in)famous for lagging behind in modernizing both internal operations and customer-facing processes. Some have even met their potential demise (think taxis). There is no easy way to transform a business when confronted with decades of IT buildouts that have resulted in layers of complexity and Chinese walls around organizations and their associated data and processes.
The reality is, if a telco could design customer and business operations today, it would look very different than it did 10 or 20 years ago. And with 5G, cloud and AI technologies, some greenfield players are getting to do just that. Whether they are serving mass market consumers, like Verizon Visible or AWS, offering private 5G as a service to businesses, newer entities are embracing a simpler, leaner approach to billing operations that will give them a competitive advantage. So how can the established service provider possibly compete?
Leveraging a digital monetization approach accelerates an SP’s evolution to a modern Digital Business Architecture, helping solve key challenges currently impacting both existing margins and new services/revenue. As SPs evolve their go-to-market around cloud, data and 5G service offerings, this becomes the time to redesign the processes that directly impact how revenue will be generated from new services.
Digital monetization brings the functions around pricing, purchasing, using and paying for services much closer to both the customer who is buying and the network that is delivering the underlying connectivity. Customers can buy on demand, pay how they want, change when they want and be given recommendations based on consumption and needs.
Achieving this is not possible through systems consolidation alone. Many telcos have spent years trying to reduce from 30 to 10 or from 10 to 1 billing systems. Even if achieved, the fundamental passive process around billing and collections for a static set of services doesn’t change. What’s more, many of the audit and reconciliation processes, customer confusion and call center traffic do not get resolved as processes and data are still spread across disparate functions, and there is no ability to provide dynamic access to service offerings or transparent, accurate spending data to customers.
How Do We Get There From Here?
Change is uncomfortable, even sometimes painful. Do you remember going to the bank every time you had to deposit a check? Now, you take a picture of it through an app. Banks in North America spend upwards of $80B a year on technology upgrades, a staggering number. But would you use a bank that still forced you into a branch or to an ATM to make a deposit?
As telcos continue to invest billions in 5G, edge, cloud and AI, breaking down the barriers that make it difficult and costly for consumers and businesses to sample, buy, change and pay for new services will be key to adoption and eventual return on investment. Existing billing processes and application architectures must change to enable simpler, more dynamic revenue generation processes. Reusable processes that aren’t hard-wired for a specific type of customer or service, and instead can be easily adapted and scaled, are necessary to monetize evolving product and customer portfolios.
Now is the time to rethink revenue management. Ditch the silos. Lose the complexity. Innovate beyond the limits of traditional billing by actively driving monetization processes that engage the customer. Existing billing systems remain rooted in the past and obstruct telco operations. Digital monetization delivers a deeper level of customer engagement with real-time insights paired with a simplified operating model that lays the foundation for the services that will define telco’s future.
MATRIXX Software is already undertaking this digital monetization transformation journey with some of our customers around the world. If you’d like to explore more, visit http://www.matrixx.com/customers/.