Where it all started…
The production and presentation of bills is a long-standing core part of any service providers enterprise architecture. The principle of producing a bill that is timely and accurate is at the very heart of a healthy billing process. In essence the focus was squarely on the E and B in EBPP.
The problem however is the billing engines that calculate these bills are complex systems and while they can carry out millions of rating and billing calculations they are not designed to also consider how the customer’s bill should look and how it should be printed.
This is where ‘Output Management’ emerged from. ‘Output Management’ was the name given to software solutions that tackled the challenge of getting the data from the billing engines to the printer and ultimately to the customer. They overcame the difficulties of extracting the complicated data sets from the billing engines and turning them into bills that were accurate and could be sent to the printer. These solutions are the foundation of the first generation of EBPP. Solutions like Oracle eDocs, Pitney Bowes Doc 1, IBM OnDemand, Streamserve etc. They have been built up over 10 to 15 years emerging from CRM technologies or reporting engines and have met this challenge well. They were built to link tightly to the billing engine and query the database to generate the bills.
Where is it all headed
Roll forward to today and the landscape of how bills need to be presented is changing. Ever increasing numbers of customers prefer to engage with their service providers online and on mobile devices. These customers have grown used to transacting online whether it is shopping, banking , socialising etc…They have certain expectations of how a service provider should engage with them online..in short they have sophisticated expectations and an electronic copy of the printed bill is no longer good enough.
Service Providers like Telcos and Cable Providers have also become more sophisticated. They have extended their service offerings, moving from fixed line to mobile to broadband to TV. With more to sell and more to bill for their requirements for flexibility have increased. They need to be able to explain their bills more carefully, they need to be able to up sell to existing customers more effectively and they need to be able to react to changing markets much more quickly…..and the bill has become a key battleground in all these areas. It can no longer just be an austere demand for payment it is arguably the most important regularly re-occurring customer touchpoint
The next generation
Output management solutions were not designed or built to address these challenges. Their heritage comes from freeing up the data from legacy billing systems. That challenge is lessening as more of these billing systems get refreshed and more modern interfaces and technologies become available.The next generation of EBPP will focus on how service providers use the billing touchpoint as a focal point for building their customer relationships. In order to do that EBPP solutions will need to be natively built for the agility of web and mobile. They will need to reflect the best practices of modern web and mobile applications. Output Management solutions built and architected using the technologies of enterprise software are not capable of this flexibility. Every change with these systems is another IT project with long lead times and big costs.
We in Brite:Bill built our platform to deliver the next generation of EBPP, where the focus is on the first P not simply the E and B.