The lofty goals of simplifying Verizon Business billing

For anyone involved in the management and processing of telecom and wireless invoices I think you'll find the recent Telephony Online article entitled Better service through better billing an interesting read.

Dave Landry, executive director of billing systems for Verizon Business provides a lot of information on the transformation of Verizon Business's billing. As he states in the article:

The process to transform Verizon Business's billing system was put into place a month before the merger, and it has been at work ever since. “Our approach to billing transformation had five components,” Landry said. “First was systems consolidation — we started with 34 systems and plan to get down to four. Once we get to four, we can talk about two, and once we get to two, we can talk about one. But one is not a goal, and I don't expect to get there.”

As the founder of a Telecom Expense Management Software company I especially look forward to the standardization and simplification of Verizon billing, especially the digital formats of telecom and wireless invoices, whether EDI or another digital format since as Landry states "Electronic billing is a means of lowering the cost of auditing."

In fact he believes billing is a differentiator. As he says:

Billing can be a differentiator in the enterprise if done well, Landry said. This has become more true now that Sarbanes-Oxley compliance requires businesses to be able to track, analyze and audit their telecom expenses.

“The job is providing the right tools to our customers so their cost of auditing becomes lower,” Landry said. “It becomes an irritant to customers if we don't do it well and a source of cost. Electronic billing is a means of lowering the cost of auditing. The philosophy we have is one size does not fit all. As a marketer, we are marketing to three different audiences.”

Landry said that the first group of customers is highly sophisticated. They have their own IT systems and want data. “For those, we have EDI or VZ-450 data directly into their systems. There is a lot more granularity and specificity to the data than there is in the EDI standard,” he said. The middle group of customers uses Verizon's Bill Manager to do custom queries based on their data, and lower-level customers use the Verizon portal.

Clearly Landry is knowledgeable about the needs of his different customers at Verizon and I believe he is right on that billing is an "irritant" to customers and "a source of cost" when it's not done well. The TEM space was founded to make it less "irritating" and to lower the overall cost of processing and auditing invoices.

As Landry says himself: 

“Telco bills, everybody knows, are infamous for lacking accuracy and understandability” Landry said. “We are trying to make the incomprehensible comprehensible, with 90 reports from Bill Manager and 60 from the portal.”

While Verizon is progressing with making incomprehensible invoices comprehensible I don't think any TEM providers need be worried. We clearly are best positioned to help enterprises "make the incomprehensible comprehensible." At the end of the day it's still a telecom or wireless invoice and it's confusing, a good TEM provider will make it less so, not just for Verizon but for all of an enterprises carrier invoices.