After 20 Years of Billing, What’s the Same & What’s Changed | Gotransverse

Recently I had reason to revisit an article that I had written for TMC late in 2000: Beyond Flat Rates and Flat Revenue: IP Mediation Helps ICPs Bill for Usage and Boost Profits. As I read through it, I was struck by how much the main in themes of that article still resonate in our daily conversations with clients and prospects in 2020. The key themes I wrote about then are still two of the key themes driving our business today: first, that usage-based pricing is an important addition to subscription and one-time pricing and second, that mediation is critical for companies that want to properly handle inbound usage records.

This led me to think further about what has changed and what hasn’t in the 20 years since I wrote that article, because even if those key billing themes have stayed the same, the world — and the way we do business in it — certainly hasn’t. Then, we were talking about the explosion of data and services enabled by 2.5G networks; now, we are still talking about the explosion of data and services, but today they’re enabled by 5G networks. In the year 2000, the TM Forum was talking about “business objects” and “contracts,” and now the same concepts are known as micro services.

Here’s one change: Moore's Law, the idea that we can expect the speed and capability of our computers to increase every couple of years, and we will pay less for them, was very much in play back then. Now, however, it has basically hit a wall as doubling the computing capacity of our hardware every year or two becomes more architecturally challenging (and costly) than it is valuable in many realms. While CPUs (and GPUs) are increasing in processing power by adding more cores not all processing in the monetization arena is able to be parallelized.

And, speaking of architecture challenges, one of the biggest shifts in the past 20 years has been the willingness of large enterprises to move applications to the public cloud. Imagine the reaction if 20 years ago I’d suggested that a tier-one carrier ought to consider running applications on someone else's servers with very little oversight. While service bureaus and managed services existed back then, they were nowhere near the equivalent of the cloud-based infrastructure we’re seeing and using today. We are now routinely seeing the major carriers in the US and other countries specifying that a solution must be cloud based.

And why is that? I’d say it all goes back to those explosions of data and services that each new network upgrade has brought us. As consumers become accustomed to living more and more on their devices — ordering products and services, streaming media, communicating on dozens of platforms (sometimes at once), and more — the need for agility in business has grown exponentially. In order to meet consumer needs and stay competitive in today’s landscape, businesses must be flexible in the way they offer their products and services — providing a variety of bundling options and usage-based add-ons to give customers exactly what they want, when they want it. And they need to change and evolve quickly, because no matter what industry we’re talking about, customers today have more options than they did 20 years ago. If one provider can’t meet a consumer’s specific needs, it’s a sure bet there’s another one out there that can come much closer.

And yet, as the need for speed and agility increases, so do the cost pressures for businesses working with legacy monetization systems and on-premise hardware. As the customer base grows, so does the need for infrastructure to manage capacity, for human resources to shepherd and oversee every process, and for expert intervention to maintain the hardware and systems. Cloud-based applications allow businesses to achieve the capacity, flexibility, and speed they need to delight customers without busting the budget on system expansion and maintenance costs — or tasking employees with the tedious and time-consuming related to manual interventions that ensure everything is running as it’s supposed to.

As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And while the last 20 years has seen plenty of change in the “hows” — how customers shop, how businesses maintain their market share — the “whats” and the “whys” have stayed more or less the same. And here at Gotransverse, our “why” — our mission to empower companies to create and implement powerful, seamless billing models at scale — is here to stay.

To learn more about how Gotransverse helps organizations ensure their billing practices are in line with the business world of 2020 and not of 2000, we invite you to take a tour of our platform today.