At first glance, billing may seem like a mundane task companies must endure. Dig deeper, and many recognize that billing can be a vital part of customer care, an opportunity to enhance the experience consumers have for retention’s sake. Looking to add agility and flexibility to companies’ billing strategies, MetraTech recently unleashed MetraNet 6 to the masses.
According to Doug Zone, chief technology officer at MetraTech, the latest version of MetraNet is meant to specifically address the company’s value proposition. “We want to help customers manage change, enable innovation, embrace complexity, and improve overall efficiency,” he says. “Organizations today need the ability to not have the same business model that is an ‘industry standard’ but, rather, differentiate it.”
New features in MetraNet 6 include:
- dynamic workflow modeling;
- activity services compliant with services-oriented architecture; and
- financial and auditing capabilities.
Speaking specifically about the workflow modeling, Zone explains that his company has found in its work with telecommunications customers that customer care is now a strategic aim for chief executive officers. The workflow modeling, which does not need to be coded by line of business users, meshes user interfaces with business needs. Consequently, the business processes can capture customer data as well as product and service activiation with intuitive graphical interfaces -- translated into workflows.
“With this economy, it is very important to maintain customer acquisition rates and, above all, retention,” Zone says of the new functionality. “A key point is increasing revenue from your existing base, and to do that means selling to customers in a different way, not necessarily selling differently.”
Being able to stick and move with changing business priorities is essential today, says Ari Banerjee, vice president of next generation software systems at consultancy Yankee Group. He explains that in the billing and customer care space most of the competition -- the likes of Amdocs and Comverse -- has historically been here for many years. “What happened is that the solutions are not that flexible,” he says. “The product models, the way things are done, are pretty fixed. You limit the innovations and business processes.”
Looking to take advantage, Banerjee says MetraTech’s offering most significantly allows users to model the business processes inside the company. “The big thing, because usually the structure is fixed, is being able to change everything if you want to,” he says. “Normally, it’s a long, drawn-out process…but in MetraNet, it is easy, flexible, and cheaper for the user.”
That isn’t to say traditional players in the billing and customer care space aren’t trying to make their offerings more agile -- it just takes time, Banerjee says. “MetraNet has unique characteristics that you don’t see with [competitors] today,” he says. “Others will eventually catch up, but what [MetraTech] has today is compelling.”
This means Banerjee sees MetraTech able to deepen its footprint among greenfield opportunities and those unwilling to rip and replace legacy systems. “The biggest focus is how companies can be more flexible and agile without completely forklifting their existing [billing] architecture,” he says. “MetraTech can come in and work with existing billing platforms. The company’s flexibility impresses me.”
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