Customer Service and Billing Hubs                      Implementation issues and Business benefits for                    ...
This document contains Confidential, Proprietary and Trade Secret Information (“ConfidentialInformation”) of Informatica C...
Table of Contents       Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...
Executive SummaryFor several years there has been a trend in the communications industry towards achieving a single view o...
Planning a single view solution                           The biggest issue is possibly the different numbers ofLeaving th...
Challenges         Managing different data formats for almost every billing and related customer support system         ...
From both a cost saving and revenue generating point of view,    the opportunity of providing a single view console that a...
ConclusionsProviding customers, whether Corporate or Residential, information in the format they want rather than theforma...
About Informatica B2B Data Exchange and               Transformation               Informatica B2B Data Exchange offers a ...
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Informatica billing hub exec brief

  1. 1. Customer Service and Billing Hubs Implementation issues and Business benefits for Communications Service ProvidersEXECUTIVE BRIEF
  2. 2. This document contains Confidential, Proprietary and Trade Secret Information (“ConfidentialInformation”) of Informatica Corporation and may not be copied, distributed, duplicated, orotherwise reproduced in any manner without the prior written consent of Informatica.While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information in this document is accurateand complete, some typographical errors or technical inaccuracies may exist. Informatica does notaccept responsibility for any kind of loss resulting from the use of information contained in thisdocument. The information contained in this document is subject to change without notice.The incorporation of the product attributes discussed in these materials into any release orupgrade of any Informatica software product—as well as the timing of any such release orupgrade—is at the sole discretion of Informatica.Protected by one or more of the following U.S. Patents: 6,032,158; 5,794,246; 6,014,670;6,339,775; 6,044,374; 6,208,990; 6,208,990; 6,850,947; 6,895,471; or by the following pending U.S.Patents: 09/644,280; 10/966,046; 10/727,700.This edition published March 2012 2
  3. 3. Table of Contents Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 The next goal – what the customer wants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Planning a single view solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 An added challenge – keeping up with developments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Deciding on the solution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Getting the Board on board – a case study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ……………...93
  4. 4. Executive SummaryFor several years there has been a trend in the communications industry towards achieving a single view of the customer.Most operators will claim to have this capability, whether they got there through seamless and elegant integration andconsolidation projects or whether they got there through a series of bolt on solutions and a lot of technical work-arounds.Sometimes it is better not to ask.The crucial issue is that to achieve any level of customer visibility and understanding means combining disparate datasources reflecting the many types of transaction, interaction and relationship an organisation has with their customers.This need for data integration means juggling with changing data sources from different and ever changing operationalsystems all in different formats and being able to manage and monitor the acquisition process without impacting thefunction of the operational systems. For all the investment made in acquiring data its value is only as good as itsaccessibility.The next goal – what the customer wants Having achieved the goal of greater customer visibility and while the industry begins to believe that it is ready for thedeluge of data that is on the way, we should spare a thought for the customer.Is it not time that customers get a single view of all their services? Not just consumers but, importantly and urgently, thelarge corporates that account for the majority of most operators’ profits. Leveraging their experience of billing customersfor small amounts based on a variety of criteria, operators have an opportunity to become billing ‘hubs’ – as long asoperators can extract and manage many different data formats.Take as an example a Large Global Corporation (LGC) which manufactures and distributes sugar and synthetic sugaryproducts. It has operations around the world. It is a large Telco customer and uses the services of a number ofCommunications Service Providers ( CSP’s ), although its prime contract is with a major European carrier. Although vitalto its business, LGC’s telecoms bill is about one percent of its bill for raw materials - but it still runs into the millions.Because its telecoms bill is such a small line item, there is simply no incentive for it to delay payment, argue incessantlyabout costs and generally be anything except fully co-operative with its CSP’s. Conversely, LGC is a significant customerfor the European CSP.The Telecoms Manager at LGC used to dream of accurate bills but now understands that none of his telecoms bills will be100% accurate, they never have been and probably never will be. He does not mind, up to a point. He also used to dreamthat his CSP would keep track of the inventory in use – and more importantly not in use – in his company.His recurring dream is about the invoice format and he still believes that one day it will match his internal audit system.Sometimes he is tempted to believe that this dream is coming true. If he could view his bill in the same format that he usesto analyse it, his job would be easier, his auditing faster and his sign off quicker. After all, his job is far more complex thanit was even five years ago. Now employees want smartphones and iPads (current research indicates that 20% of all CXOsnow use them) and his job is more and more about control and cost management. He needs to find ways of definingpersonal usage as opposed to company usage and somehow get the sales guys to abide by the rules. He is concernedabout the trend of mobile payments and carrier billing and suddenly having to deal with a host of mobile onlinetransactions that should be posted under subsistence or entertainment, not telecoms. He also needs to manage multiplesources and multiple uses of data, for a global workforce.One of his more recent dreams is, he believes, beginning to become a reality. To have one view of all his services, oneconsole through which he can place orders and monitor and track trouble tickets for all these services - as supplied by ahost of different global and local operators around the world. This would make his life so much better. 4
  5. 5. Planning a single view solution The biggest issue is possibly the different numbers ofLeaving the Telecoms Manager to dream and his platforms, formats and product descriptions that will besalesmen to blur the lines between corporate and used across the range of operators and service providers;personal smartphone usage, it is worth just assessing with many of them changing definition constantly.the challenges involved in designing an integratedreporting system for corporate customers. The number of Customer Service and Billing platforms creates a huge challenge in data extraction, conversionThis new challenge for the CSP is set against a and transformation. A host of different formats will be in usebackground of huge subscriber growth, new products, at operators around the world. From Flat Files tomergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and the Unstructured Word, Excel and PDF documents and Semiknowledge that mergers often result in systems that structured data such as ASN.1 based CDR’s to complexare not compatible. The customer has defined a new XML network data files, it must all be extracted, convertedopportunity for the CSP, not just articulated a step and loaded into a customer friendly environment. Theforward in its customer experience. challenge of on-boarding or connecting new data sources and then managing and monitoring the data transferThe list of objectives and challenges can be process cannot be underestimated. When time meanssummarized as: money linking in your customers and getting access to the data suppliers is critical to do accurately and swiftly,Objectives however the opportunity makes this investment worthwhile.  Provide a simple, single source for The impact of regulatory compliance needs careful corporate customers to view and analyse all management. Not only do individual countries have their service usage, orders, trouble tickets, etc. own rules, particularly when it comes to electronic billing, that are provided directly or through partners but there are also pan European and US regulations that  Find a method of extracting, converting and need to be complied with. Some countries now insist that all transferring large amounts of differently bills from all companies pass through Government systems formatted data, globally. in order for the authorities to understand how much tax they  Secure the CSP’s position as prime billing are owed. and service provider  Cement partnerships with other operators The number of different services is now a problem for IT, and service providers for future billing particularly billing. Fixed, mobile, IP, LBS services are now service provider business delivering unprecedented amounts and variety of data. A  Develop a strategy to address the massive Tier 1 CSP can gather over four billion network metrics an increase in data, usage and business (M2M, hour. This huge amount of data drags with it multiple tool Internet and Location based data sources) kits of analytics to make sure that the content is delivered;  Ensure the solution scales and is flexible that the network is operating at its optimum and now that enough to manage the ever changing the customers are being offered the services that they want. multitude of different data sources and formats Any issues with Security compliance mean customers will  Provide an interactive invoicing format that simply not use any compromised service and any lapses mimics customers’ internal systems will mean massive decreases in corporate confidence and revenue. Therefore visible security management, access control and auditability are prerequisites of any customer data integration solution. 5
  6. 6. Challenges  Managing different data formats for almost every billing and related customer support system  Extracting and standardizing this data into a single, usable format  Increasing range of services and subsequent huge scale of data to manage  Differing languages, currencies, tax regimes  Regulatory Compliance and Security – at local, national and international levels  Different IT platforms across partners, even within its own properties  No universal or centralized product catalogue, therefore no standard product definition  Smartphones and tablet usage driving data heavy content usageAn added challenge – keeping up with developmentsNo-one would claim that the communications market is standing still. The momentum of new, primarily data,services is threatening to overwhelm the capacity of networks. Smartphones and tablets have revolutionized theamount and type of data carried by mobile networks. Network analytics tools are being deployed almostuniversally in an attempt to manage network capacity and configuration more efficiently. This is happeningalongside a similar trend in customer usage analytics. Whilst these tools are being deployed to manage thegrowth in traffic, the side effect is the potential to improve the customer experience exponentially.Alongside the growth in ‘human’ communications is the rise of machine–to-machine communications. Now thatMan is on the way to connecting everyone on earth, he is now embarking on the journey to connect everythingas well. The potential for those who do the connecting - and more importantly the provisioning, maintaining andreporting of those devices - to make entirely new and very profitable businesses out of the opportunity cannotbe under-estimated.The machine-to-machine market for corporates is already a large, diverse market. The potential for monitoring,tracking and reporting on a host of devices is almost limitless. Everything from fleet management, security, IDverification, virtual lunch vouchers, travel and accommodation could be sold to corporate customers – andtherefore must be scoped in any solution that involves providing the single point of view of multiple data sourcesthat the customer now requires.Deciding on the solutionWith such a variety of systems, formats and technologies, the only real solution is to extract the data from eachsystem and then input that data into a single view solution. Integrating these operational platforms for customerintelligence lacks flexibility is hugely complex, impacts the operational systems performance and simply doesn’twork. Even within one CSP group there are simply too many different systems and formats. To integrate theamount of data from this many different sources and different formats – from text, ASN.1, relational and non-relational databases - would require years of work. The key is to integrate the data not the operational systemsand provide automated management and monitoring.Against this challenge of huge complexity and investment lies the universal customer imperative. Customers,whether large corporates or impoverished teenagers, need simplicity, clarity and transparency from their serviceprovider.6
  7. 7. From both a cost saving and revenue generating point of view, the opportunity of providing a single view console that allowed customers to keep track of trouble tickets, verify bills and place orders - which in itself would go a long way to solving the problems with manual order entry – is too compelling to ignore. Poor data integrity has been a longstanding CSP’s, whatever the press may say, are good at billing large problem in carrier environments that leads to amounts of small and complex transactions. This means that inefficiencies and expensive manual re-work the solution can be rolled out as a global, interactive billing and across the full range of operations such as customer service hub, linking multiple supply points into a provisioning and activation, service single source. assurance, billing and capacity planning. Historically seen as a problem for operations, The spins off benefits are improved cash flow by delivering bills data is now seen as the fuel of an in a standard format that matches customers’ in-house formats. organization, fuel that can help the It would also enable increased revenue from the ability to resell organization get the most out of its customer this core business expertise and solution. information engines, or clog and choke that engine. For this reason, the data must be accurate, timely and accessible. To make Getting the Board on board – a case this work, it is vital that incoming data be it study from the network or partners must be monitored, managed and in a format that can Two years ago a VP of Billing and Revenue Assurance was be analysed not just as a feed for an appointed at a global carrier whose customers were exclusively operational system. Data is the key corporate. His initial role was to consolidate the number of differentiator in many successful billing systems. Before he arrived he studied the business. His organisations but no matter what investment initial assessment of the situation at the company was that too is only as good as its accessibility. little emphasis was being placed on the customer and the customer experience, the company was still too technology focused, whatever the press releases said. In addition, he realized that customers had no end-to-end view of the services they were buying. His first goal was to get Billing on the agenda at Board Meetings. He did this by showing that the company’s largest customers put Billing in the top three issues that they had. He made Billing into the bridge between the customer and the Board. He then made Billing a company-wide issue. His argument was that billing was about data integrity and about giving customers the best overall experience possible, which required integration of multiple sources of data. By getting the CEO on board, and using the customer and his requirements as tools, the VP of Billing and Revenue Assurance achieved his goals of reduced bad debt, increased cash flow and cost savings within half the time agreed at the outset of his tenure. He never achieved a stated goal of consolidating the number of systems down to one – which turned out to be a good thing, but made Billing and Revenue Assurance a key element in increasing customer satisfaction and even as part of the new product development.7
  8. 8. ConclusionsProviding customers, whether Corporate or Residential, information in the format they want rather than theformat that is most convenient to provide them with increases customer satisfaction, retention and ultimatelyprofitability. To create a global customer service and billing hub for large corporate customers, the solutionneeds to be able to extract and convert, at scale, a huge range of third party data, in online or batch mode. Itneeds to be able to scale to the needs of truly global companies and be able to manage and monitor thesevolumes of data. It needs to act as an information - specifically billing - hub, which can receive and send datafrom anywhere to anywhere, enable data transformation from any to any format and must be able to include arange of billing and customer service information. It needs to build and maintain a universal library of predefinedtransformation routines that would be able to deal with the most common formats and use them as reusablebuilding blocks in any new project.To provide customers with what they want is always an excellent goal – to fulfill their dreams more so. To createa global opportunity out of the core CSP strength of billing and extending this to create a billing service providerfor global customers is surely a compelling conversation to have at the next Board meeting.About the AuthorAlex Leslie - Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on thecommunications sector (Now part of the TM Forum). During the 10 years of the GBA as an independentassociation, he guided it through times of enormous change, challenge and opportunity for the communicationsindustry. He has actively provided a focus on the changing business models facing the industry, deliveringthought leadership, insight and direction. Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet and Publisher ofBillingViews.8
  9. 9. About Informatica B2B Data Exchange and Transformation Informatica B2B Data Exchange offers a comprehensive management and monitoring environment that allows organizations to aggregate, exchange, and share data. It also provides universal transformation for all data formats, including unstructured data, industry-standard data, XML, and a number of proprietary formats. With Informatica B2B Data Exchange, organizations can easily integrate the volume and variety of data and streamline secured information exchange across channels. The software reduces onboarding time by up to 80 percent, rapidly identifies and resolves problems to improve customer and partner relationships, and maximizes overall operational performance. Informatica B2B Data Exchange enables IT organizations to make business partner data accessible for improved efficiency while also allowing the flexibility to define processes that empower users to configure processes per partner and source. IT and business collaboration can monitor the data events for each partner and process and effectively respond to changes. About Informatica Informatica Corporation (NASDAQ: INFA) is the world’s number one independent leader in data integration software. The Informatica Platform provides organizations with a comprehensive, unified, open, and economical approach to lower IT costs and gain competitive advantage from their information assets. Nearly 4,000 enterprises worldwide rely on Informatica to access, integrate, and trust their information assets held in the traditional enterprise and in the Internet cloud. Visit Worldwide Headquarters, 100 Cardinal Way, Redwood City, California 94063, USA phone: 650.385.5000 fax: 650.385.5500 toll-free in the US: 1.800.653.3871© 2008 Informatica Corporation. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. Informatica and the Informatica logo are trademarks or registered trademarks ofInformatica Corporation in the United States and in jurisdictions throughout the world. All other company and product names may be tradenames ortrademarks of their respective owners. First Published: March 2012 9