Trend analysis in billing

Tekton Billing Managing Director Harry McKeever on how data analysis is being used to set long-term strategy. He also shares insights on the key trends reshaping ICT sector billing.

Tekton Billing’s strategic thinking is largely determined by its data analysis which has identified key trends shaping the future of telecoms and IT billing. These include an increased focus on the customer experience. “Our analysis of customer portal logins reveals a 150-plus per cent surge in customers choosing portal-based invoice delivery over email attachments,” stated McKeever. “Customers prefer the interactive and insightful nature of self-service and reporting through the portal, as opposed to simple PDF attachments. And from the perspective of resellers, the portal alleviates pressure on their customer service team and ensures enhanced security.”

Another big trend pointed out by McKeever is towards convergent billing capabilities. “On average, our partners consume services from six to eight wholesale providers, with the highest network user leveraging 46 suppliers,” he added. “We have streamlined the capabilities and experience to make managing multiple supplier relationships easier with a single invoice. Manual reconciliation, especially with a growing number of suppliers, would be both challenging and time-consuming.”

Near real-time billing is another top trend identified by analysis of Tekton Billing’s data, which points to growing partner demand for near real-time information and automatic CDR imports to enhance responsiveness, improve cash flow and prevent unexpected surprises. “We’ve seen a rising trend in partners switching to suppliers that offer more frequent CDR files,” added McKeever. “Daily CDRs are no longer the standard.”

Strategic integrations are also coming into sharp focus, with Tekton Billing witnessing a rise in traffic across its API framework to supplier networks. This indicates a growing adoption of self-service options and barring requests by customers, often triggered by spend caps. “These integrations improve the customer experience and promote operational efficiencies,” stated McKeever. “We will continue to expand our integrations to include more vendors and a wider array of functions.”

The right billing software can drive sales, reduce costs, increase productivity and optimise margins

More broadly, McKeever characterises the top three billing requirements from resellers today as unified billing, complex tariff and rating capabilities and self-service. But when evaluating billing software, resellers and MSPs should look beyond just financial transactions and consider the overall value proposition, advises McKeever.

“A branded self-service customer portal offers a personalised user experience, boosting brand perception and loyalty while reducing the administrative burden on support,” he explained. “Real-time reporting and trend analysis provide actionable insights for informed decisions, optimising revenue and operations. By investing in these features, resellers and MSPs can proactively meet customer demands, enhance efficiency and stand out in a competitive market.”

Shift to innovation
From a helicopter perspective, McKeever says the industry is shifting towards more adaptable and innovative billing solutions. Over the next two to three years he forecasts the billing software market to become more flexible, personalised and digitalised. “We expect a rise in unified billing systems that consolidate multiple services to meet the expanding offerings of resellers and MSPs,” said McKeever. “This diversification trend also suggests that resellers will increasingly engage with a broader spectrum of suppliers. We will in turn see an increasing demand for billing providers that are impartial and agnostic toward wholesale suppliers.”

According to McKeever, AI has the potential to ‘revolutionise’ telecoms billing by improving accuracy, reducing human error and increasing margins. “In the immediate term, the value of a good human Billing Manager cannot be overstated and is unlikely to be replaced by AI,” he added.

“However, we are exploring practical applications for AI to add value. These include providing insights in reporting and suggestions for margin optimisation, as well as identifying fraudulent activities and triggering fraud detection alerts. In terms of advanced analytics, AI can leverage data analysis and reporting to provide deeper insights into customer data, enabling more personalised and targeted billing. Forward-thinking resellers will utilise their billing platform not only to issue invoices but also to gain valuable commercial intelligence, enhancing their overall business strategy.”

It’s fair to say that the billing sector is a hotbed of innovation and possibilities, and a primary enabler for channel companies. “Billing remains a key avenue for achieving a significant competitive edge, arguably one of the last avenues for differentiation,” added McKeever. “From branded customer portals and convergent billing capabilities to automation and insightful reporting, the right billing software can drive sales, reduce costs, increase productivity and optimise margins.”         

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