It is satisfying if you are running an organisation that represents the interests of the Billing community when the CEO of a major US operator says that “it all comes back to billing”. Out loud. In public.
Yet billing is always the thorn in the sides of operators, always the last thing to be given green lights from above.
This still (depressingly) holds true for 5G, according to a survey conducted by Heavy Reading for Syniverse, ‘the connected company’.
On the whole the survey is reasonably upbeat. Not surprisingly 5G is changing the focus for operators towards the enterprise sector and 56% of respondents believe they are making good progress towards identifying opportunities within various verticals.
That said, 5G is an ecosystem and managing that ecosystem is providing headaches for the operators in the survey. Three quarters of respondents said that managing this web of partners and their various and complex needs is something they are not on top of and just over half said that getting to grips with the technical billing, charging and payments piece of 5G was proving a real challenge.
The survey digs a little deeper, specifically:
‘Just 10% of respondents say their existing systems are suitable for multi-party billing, reconciliation and payment solutions in 5G. Ecosystem complexity also raises specific challenges around invoicing and paying non-operator partners. More than three-quarters of respondents (77%) see fraudulent activity as somewhat or the biggest challenge in this area, closely followed by revenue assurance for billing, and settlement vs. contract data (71%).
These are not new problems and multi-party billing, settlements, customer care and payments have been discussed within the billing community endlessly for the last 20 years.
It seems, once again, that operators have been so fixated on getting the network ready they have once again lost sight of how they are going to make money out of the new technology.
As the CEO of a conference company used to say, ‘if you can’t bill for it, it is a hobby’.
So while it is satisfying when you get the ‘it all comes back to billing’ from a CEO, it remains deeply frustrating that operators do not pay enough attention to the business end of things.
Which is, surely, what it is all about.