Telcos should look closely at their M2M billing and rating systems, says Cycle30
Cycle30 may not be a familiar name yet to every reader, but as a spin-out from General Communication Inc., (GCI) this two year-old business has an enviable pedigree in developing billing and order-to-cash solutions for various communications sectors. It also has a stern warning for anyone tempted into M2M services without checking that their billing system is up to scratch.
Just over two years ago a new name appeared at the leading communications industry events focused on billing and payment. Unlike most startups, though, Cycle30 was able to hit the ground running with a proven suite of software products.
Cycle30 was spun out of the IT department of Alaskan-based cable and telecommunications network operator, General Communication, Inc. It didn’t emerge empty-handed, Cycle30 went out into the world with 70 employees and found a base in Seattle, Washington. Since then the staffing has grown to over 90 people. The young company has also benefited from US$50 million-worth of intellectual property and technology assets.
The creation of Cycle30 was a result of GCI’s strategic decision to acquire three broadcast TV stations in Alaska. But relations remain close, and GCI is still Cycle30’s largest customer.
Cycle30 provides its customers with a completely hosted platform for flexible and scalable billing of machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions. It includes flexible charging, rating and balance management for both recurring and usage-based charges.
Services offered include invoicing, device provisioning, inventory management, customer care and end-customer self-care via the web. Indeed, the solution can manage billing, not only
Regular readers of M2M Now will have seen that innovative M2M solutions are starting to disrupt existing markets and to open up whole new ones. So the need to be able to effectively monetise new services remains constant.
Even the most ground-breaking M2M solution has to be able to accurately and flexibly bill customers. Cycle30’s philosophy is to empower its customers to stick to what they do best. So the company can offer accurate, timely revenue assurance while M2M service providers focus on the tasks of acquiring and retaining customers and delivering the best possible service.
Jim Dunlap, Cycle30’s president, is responsible for the company’s strategic direction, operations and financial performance. He has 20 years of leadership experience in retail, consumer products, utility, and telecom, having held senior roles at Campbell Soup Company, Nordstrom, and GCI, where he was chief information officer, before founding Cycle30.
According to Mr. Dunlap, “Unlike traditional billing and ordering systems you need to deploy, maintain and host yourself, the Cycle30 platform is ready today, so you can get to market quickly.”
As Cycle30 is keen to point out, however, providing machine-to-machine communication services is about a lot more than connectivity. Communications companies need to take a close look at their infrastructure. For new entrants to the
M2M services market, there’s a good chance that their current infrastructure is not ready for the new products, nor is it prepared for the way that the services need to be delivered.
From the moment of customer contact and order, the Cycle30 platform aims to support enterprise customers by managing and accounting for the revenue associated with their products and services. It does this all the way through invoicing, reconciliation and collections.
Will you react in time for M2M?
Said a Cycle30 spokesman, “If you don’t adjust your company’s infrastructure as soon as possible, you could miss out on the M2M market altogether within the next two years. And in regards to billing within organisations — having a system that can take on the functionality of your new products — it takes years to get the ball rolling with updating your billing system. So, if you want to launch new services within your organisation, it could take 9-12 months. That timeline is far too long, and your new service will never get launched.”
He continued, “For example, companies in the M2M space are selling M2M parking meters that are generating a new revenue stream. If you are a communications provider that wants to work in this market, ask yourself this, ‘Is my rating and billing system ready to take on this new functionality?’.”
Jim Dunlap puts it succinctly when he says, “Cycle30 is an order-to-cash billing and rating service provider, not a software vendor or system integrator. That means we’re here to empower operators to focus on their business and not their billing system. Running a billing operation is critical to your business, but it isn’t easy. Why not leave your day-to-day billing operations to experts?”
“Don’t wait any longer to get involved with M2M. Find someone that can overhaul your infrastructure to ensure you have a platform for flexible and scalable billing of machine-to-machine services,” he adds. “You need a billing system that’s ready to execute now. Stop waiting.”