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Convergent charging requires that the OSS domain converge with BSS

A new billing and charging work group led by OSS/BSS vendors is seeking service-provider input to drive a transformation of organizational and process changes related to billing and charging

As operators look to offer newer, richer payment types and services, it seems that technology is moving faster than mindset changes around how telcos view their organizational structure and processes.

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While work around convergence is taking place on a technical level, it cannot be implemented if service providers maintain a siloed view of their business organization, which leads to a separation of OSS and BSS.

With different stove pipes for pre- and postpaid residing in different parts of their business, telco operators end up struggling to converge technically and organizationally. The current-day separation means those in charge of thinking up new third-party partnerships for new services and compelling payment options (chief marketing officer, product and service managers) may reside in a separate part of a telco organization than those in charge of making those payment types or partnerships work for different customer types (pre- versus postpaid).

In other words, people in charge of “billing” are separate from those overseeing “charging.” At a basic level, the management of prepaid and postpaid payment options falls to different groups—OSS, BSS, networking and IT.

If “charging” is the real-time, active creation of the charges for a service, and “billing” is the active creation of an invoice, then who is in charge when a postpaid user needs an invoice, where a prepaid customer does not. Or what happens when a postpaid customer wants online, real-time charges to be visible after they do certain transactions. Or when prepaid customers want views of the history of their transactions too?

“While operators today can identify their most-valued customers, as well as their potential for churn, they find it difficult to proactively take action because the two domains of OSS/BSS remain separated,” said Oracle’s Graham Carey, who is leading TM Forum’s Charging and Billing Group, which works within the Revenue Management Initiative. In that group, Oracle is collaborating with Amdocs, Comarch, Ericsson, Metratech, Huaweii, Alcatel-Lucent, TNO and Peter-Service to drive “organizational change--not just technologically, but organizationally, so that there can be a holistic view and a unified response to customers that are pre- and post-paid,” according to Carey. “We don’t want the terminology and requirements to be defined by us, the vendors; we want service providers to get engaged so we know their requirements and preferences.”

Because service provider CxOs are trying to figure out how different domains of service can be enriched with different payment options, promotions, vouchers, and initiatives, Carey believes it behooves them to get involved with the group: “They need to think more of the overlap between OSS/BSS so that it ultimately trickles down to the deeper levels of their organizations, where definitions and terminology around charging and billing need to be consistent when talking about ‘wallets,’ ‘balances’ and ‘buckets,’” said Carey, noting the group wants to evolve terminology, processes and technologies according to what is important to service providers.

Carey hopes that by May’s Management World event in Dublin it will have service-provider input and participation. “As we in the vendor community build out knowledge, we want to evolve the strategy so that it is relevant to the operators so we get the terminology around charging and billing as they need it to be in the context of our Frameworx [e.g., the eTOM, SID, etc].”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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