Cloud-based online charging is an important ingredient for digital transformation. Want to transform sales processes with real-time recommendations and advanced configure-price-quote functionality? Cloud-based online charging can help. Want to enable and monetize on-demand consumption of virtualized services and APIs? Cloud-based online charging can do it. Want to roll out vertical-specific applications that mash-up multiple partner-provided services and offer them as an on-demand, premium app upgrades? Cloud-based online charging plays an important role. But why can’t service providers press legacy OCS platforms into new roles to enable the same services? It might work in the lab, or even in the near-term, but consider the dynamic complexity and scale of the digital service environment that is emerging now.
An important aspect of digital transformation is the adoption, adaptation and industrialization of proven digital service models. In-App purchases provide a classic use case. Want to offer a trial or freemium app that lets users upgrade to the full version for a nominal charge, on-demand? That’s where in-app purchasing comes into play; legacy OCS should support this basic model today. But fast-forward into the industrialized digital environment where your in-app purchase goes beyond unlocking new mazes for Pac-Man to chomp his way through. Now your in-app purchase unlocks a HIPAA-compliant, telemedicine application that allows emergency medical service contractors to access live orthopedic consultations via video to triage manufacturing accidents and settle worker’s compensation claims.
The app is secure and ultra-performant. The high-def video is secure and encrypted to protect patient privacy. The logged data is transmitted securely to the receiving hospital, the employer, the emergency service provider and the insurance company using a regulatory-compliant, virtualized, third-party data security appliance. The app can perform a live hand-off to let the remote, consulting orthopedist sign-out to the receiving physician at the local hospital using services like VoLTE or VoWiFi.
This session needs to be charged, billed and settled with a detailed recording of every transaction required to authorize, connect and secure this multiway communication. Cloud-based online charging is a key requirement to enable this type of distributed, mobile & bandwidth intensive scenario that the digital environment is spurring across vertical industries.
Large enterprises across vertical industries are intrigued by digital transformation because it can allow them to turn sunk costs and write-offs into profit. Empty warehouse space was once accepted as a cost of doing business. Now, it’s an asset that can be sold in real-time and priced based on supply and demand. The same will be true for virtualized network functions, application-based services and access to high volume APIs.
Cloud-based online charging, enhanced with embedded analytical capabilities, gives the service provider the ability to monitor and measure supply and demand, anticipate changes in customer behavior and price dynamically based on multidimensional inputs. Though a legacy OCS might provide some smart capabilities, analytical intelligence is unlikely to be native to the system. Plus, the legacy OCS won’t dynamically scale across geographies to provide distributed functionality at scale wherever it is needed while optimizing available hardware resources. Thus, cloud-based online charging becomes a transformational catalyst across a wide area, bringing digital-age pricing and demand modeling capabilities where and when business requires.
Legacy online-charging is typically hardware-intensive and requires over-provisioning to accommodate peak time volume. Just as service providers want to use virtualization to break free from this type of cost-intensive, static approach to networks and data centers, it makes sense to do the same with online charging.
Rather than statically deploying a legacy OCS for specific purposes in certain locations, cloud-based online charging is exposed as a service that can be instantiated with optimized resources – anywhere from a multi-tenant public cloud setting to a private, turnkey, remote managed service. In a digital environment, online charging becomes similar to a callable web service that can be infused into any offering to facilitate authorization, real-time charging, balance management, financial control, real-time notification, threshold management, dynamic pricing and converged billing. It can also be exposed via API, catalogued and offered up as a service itself. It becomes a saleable product to large enterprise customers whose digital transformations will be catalyzed similarly by a massively scalable, virtualized, on-demand, intelligent charging function that can track, rate, charge, settle and bill for anything from the cloud.
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