In August, leading provider of billing software, Union Street Technologies, received investment from serial tech entrepreneur, Matthew Riley. As part of the investment, Union Street is merging with fellow billing provider, Aurora, creating an independent cloud-based billing and provisioning software business. Riley and Union Street’s Vincent Disneur discuss what this means for the channel.
Technology Reseller (TR): What motivated this deal?
Matthew Riley (MR):I see a significant opportunity in the channel for cloud-based billing and provisioning software. We estimate the number of channel players will continue to grow and when you include ICT partners into the mix the market sits at approximately 14,500 partners. The combination of Union Street’s strong and historic profile and brand equity with Aurora’s development muscle will add enormous value to the telco and IT resell markets. I’ve known and done business with Tony and Vincent for a long time and seen them take Union Street from strength to strength and that’s going to continue.
TR: What’s going to change at Union Street?
Vincent Disneur (VD): The most notable difference is the increased scale and capacity of our joint operations. Merging Union Street with Aurora creates a combined workforce of 200 personnel serving 800 channel partners that, collectively, use our solutions to bill circa to £2bn per annum.
Matthew is taking on the role of Chairman and has appointed me as Managing Director alongside Kevin O’Brien as Chief Finance Officer. Tony Cook, our previous owner, will remain as an advisor to the board.
Union Street is retaining its brand identity and will continue to supply its aBILLity billing software with technical support and associated services just as before. Aurora, bolstered with significant ew investment, will act as the company’s development division, driving forward R&D for existing products whilst developing new innovations for the channel.
TR: How will this move benefit resellers in the IT Space?
VD: Technologies are increasingly converging and there’s a growing desire among end users to work with one supplier for all IT and communications services. This presents a fantastic opportunity for MSPs and ICT resellers to expand their proposition to include communications services and many have already done so.
At the same time there are numerous technological changes impacting the market that present enormous growth opportunities. There’s Blockchain, 5G, the move to all IP telephony, the list goes on and on. By combining our expertise, resources, and the best features of our software products, we can better assist ICT resellers and MSPs in capitalising on these and existing opportunities.
MR: We have the opportunity to digitally enhance the way the ICT channel not only bills its end user customers, but also how it provisions those services. Getting your bills out right first time, on time every time is the mantra and to do that you have to provision correctly and get the sales paperwork correct at entry. We believe we can revolutionise the way the channel gets its sales to bill process delivered. This means happy end user customers, which means you can get paid quicker and grow faster and that’s what this business is about, helping you to grow your business.
TR: How has the ongoing pandemic affected your plans?
VD: There’s been many lessons learned from the pandemic. We mobilised our teams to work from home within a few days which meant we could maintain service levels throughout without need to furlough any personnel. Other vendors have not weathered the crisis so well. Lockdown has provided time and space for many channel businesses to take a fresh look at their billing operations, whilst also exposing actual or potential vulnerabilities. The importance of choosing a vendor that can guarantee resilience and stability in uncertain times has become increasingly apparent.
TR: What’s next for Union Street?
VD: This deal is about supporting ICT resellers and MSPs as they seize growth opportunities with innovative, reliable software that will be continuously updated and delivered with fantastic customer service. The objective is simple – to help partners become bigger, better, and more profitable.
Designed to Monetise ICT Services
Earlier this year, Union Street relaunched its market leading aBILLity billing platform with an all new web-based user interface.
Commenting on its release, Disneur said, “Built from the ground up, our developers seized the opportunity to completely reimagine the platform’s look and feel. Consultations with users at every stage of development ensured that aBILLity’s web client not only looks incredible, it also delivers a smooth and intuitive user journey. The result is a billing system that looks amazing, is highly efficient, provides the unrivalled capabilities aBILLity users have come to expect, and with all the added benefits inherent in a web application. Best of all, it consolidates billing for all services into a single invoice, optimising the end user experience.
“As a fully hosted SaaS solution, aBILLity offers multiple benefits including market leading performance, data security, and availability. There’s no need to buy and maintain servers or to manage security, capacity, data backups or disaster recovery measures. Union Street takes care of everything, allowing you to focus on building your business without distraction.”
*Supplier agnostic *One bill for all services *+3,500 users *Scalable from start-up to enterprise
aBILLity Goes Mobile
In June, Union Street launched a new mobile app for its aBILLity billing platform. Available for IOS and Android, the aBILLity app can be downloaded from the App Store and Play Store respectively. The app has been designed to complement the core aBILLity platform by providing an overview of billing activities
Disneur explains the thinking behind its introduction, “During consultations with our user community, one thing that repeatedly came up was a desire for on demand access to high level billing information. Similar to how banking customers can use an app to quickly check the balance of their accounts and manage payees, we’ve developed our app to provide easy access to contact information, customer data, and management reporting that can give a snapshot of how billing operations are performing.”
“We have had a long-term partnership with Union Street and for me the latest mobile app is one of the best things this business has rolled out in the last few years.”