This month’s Comms Dealer magazine includes a special report discussing trends in billing, led by our very own Shaun Bodsworth. See below for his thoughts on the market and Inform Billing’s response:
The capabilities of billing systems will only be curbed by a lack of imagination and investment, such is their potential as a true platform for integration and innovation.
Demand for cloud-based systems has emerged as a major trend, not just in the billing space, but across the whole industry. So much so that Inform Billing provides its Eclipse software via the cloud as a matter of course, unless a customer requests otherwise. “Continued investment in cloud-based solutions that will simplify deployment as well as improve resilience will remain a key factor in our development,” explained Shaun Bodsworth, Managing Director. “Using more up-to-date cloud-based technology will allow us to significantly advance our integration strategy and market share.”
Inform Billing’s proposition is two-fold. The first is geared towards new entrants into the comms market. “With this segment we base our proposition on simplicity of set-up, ease of use and we take care of hosting, servers,back-ups and licensing for our customers,” added Bodsworth. “Our bureau service is priced as an entry level option to help those starting out to get off on the right foot. Our second proposition is directed towards the established reseller looking to enhance their billing capability. This offering focuses on scalability of the software, reliability and the capacity for bespoke development alongside the existing complex feature set.”
Inform Billing has doubled in size over the past two years. The company has developed close relationships with its customers and is able to respond swiftly to their development requests. “We strongly believe in the
value of competition and have worked hard to position ourselves as a credible alternative for the larger reseller,” added Bodsworth. “As an independent UK billing provider and a specialist in our field, we continue to promote the importance of independent billing options for resellers, rather than network or aggregator provided options.”
“While we have always supported resellers to become self-sufficient with their billing and increase control and visibility over their customer base, we are finding that more and more resellers are happier to take advice and guidance from us and use our bureau billing team as an extension of their own. In the future we see the gap widening between those who want to buy ‘Billing as a Service’ and those who simply require a software solution.”
The trend for outsourced services will continue to grow with a greater requirement for solutions that provide ‘Billing as a Service’, in addition to the traditional market for buying or renting a billing platform, believes Bodsworth. “Years ago a billing system was a large investment costing £20k plus upfront,” he stated. “This is no longer the case, and the change in model has created an opportunity to nurture relationships, continue investment and essentially become more profitable as our customers succeed. The current trend, especially for fledgling companies, is to extend that link further by outsourcing all elements of billing to a specialist, freeing up precious time to go out selling and to grow the business.”
According to Bodsworth there’s a host of opportunities in non-core markets and Inform Billing has to be selective when choosing which opportunities to pursue. Any diversion into a new business stream requires significant development to take a product to market that is ‘off the shelf’ but still meets a variable set of complex demands. “With the move to more subscriptionbased revenues comes opportunities outside of the traditional telecoms and IT arena,” added Bodsworth.
“This includes, but is not limited to, the growth in IoT and M2M markets. Our biggest challenge is to develop systems flexible enough to cope with these emerging opportunities, yet to still maintain the core functionality required by the masses.”
In the midst of such a dynamic market it should come as no surprise that Inform Billing has an ongoing development cycle and reinvests around 40 per cent of revenue into development. “This year is turning out to be a year of development launches for Inform Billing,” he said. “We will see continued improvements with a major relaunch of our Eclipse billing software before the end of the year, reaffirming our commitment to cloud-based solutions, but retaining the flexibility for those who want to manage their own hosting and hardware. We will also be releasing enhancements to our accompanying Enlighten customer facing web billing portal, and increasing our capacity to integrate with third party systems.”