FROM TM FORUM LIVE, NICE, FRANCE: A keynote session this morning did not provide a comfortable message for an audience of OSS and BSS specialists when a panel of telco executives queried whether the telecoms industry still actually needs to send bills at all.

Erik Hoving, group CTO at KPN, pointed to the difference between how telcos and over-the-top (OTT) providers charge for their services.

“We’ve spent zillions of dollars on BSS, but who is in need of a bill? No over-the-top company sends a bill and nobody ever uses the data of the billing system. Why do we have a billing system at all?” Hoving asked, noting OTT providers just use credit cards.

He added the telecoms industry has been trying to make sense of the data from billing systems for 20 years: “So either we figure out what to do with the data or stop doing it,” Hoving said.

Fellow panellists were of a similar view. Phil Jordan, group CIO at Telefonica, drew attention to the theme of the panel session, OSS/BSS 2.0 – The Key to Digital Transformation, saying: “OSS/BSS 2.0 – I don’t know what that means.”

Determining what a future OSS/BSS system should look like is no easy task, but Jordan, Hoving and Jean-Marie Culpin, CMO of Orange, all agreed real time charging, flexibility, personalisation and the ability to liberate data were some of the attributes any future system must have.

Ericsson support
Ulf Ewaldsson, SVP and head of the digital services business area at troubled vendor Ericsson, added: “Why do we need a billing system? We don’t. It’s all a web experience … it’s all about customer experience management.”

Ewaldsson added the telecoms system is currently being held back by legacy services and systems, but said he believes the industry is on the right track: “There is a sense of urgency among Ericsson’s customers worldwide for new types of cloud-based platforms, especially in customer management.”

 – Anne Morris, contributing reporter to Mobile World Live