Intelligent Technologies comes to aid of CSPs and distributors with robust and powerful billing solution for cloud services
When it comes to billing, there’s no better proving ground than telecoms, with its vast array of rates, bundles, penalties for over-usage and other variables.
Now, a leader in the field, PRD Technologies (trading as Intelligent Technologies), is offering its services to an IT channel facing ever more complex billing requirements, as customers transition to consumption-based models for software, devices and cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure and other platform as a service (PaaS) offerings.
“We’ve been involved in telecoms for many years, but telecoms is plateauing and what we are really excited about now is the cloud consumption space. We see massive growth and potential in that area and have diversified to such an extent that our business plans are probably now more biased towards cloud providers than telcos,” explains Intelligent Technologies Managing Director Simon Adams.
The Basingstoke-based company already works with a number of IT distributors, notably Westcoast, and is looking to develop relationships with other channel organisations that might benefit from its national, award-winning Intelligent Billing suite and bespoke development capabilities.
It also provides packaged billing solutions for resellers, CSPs and MSPs that have either not yet automated their billing processes or have done so but require greater flexibility than is typically provided by the billing components of popular IT management and MSP software suites.
Intelligent Technologies is well placed to satisfy the needs of both types of customer – those requiring bespoke development and those looking for packaged solutions – thanks to the capabilities it has built up over almost 30 years in billing.
PRD was established in 1992 and originally concentrated on developing billing platforms to meet the complex needs of large providers like Energis Communications, for which it used to bill more than 80 million calls a day. In 2006, following an MBO, the new management changed direction to focus on ‘out of the box’ reseller billing packages, while retaining the ability to deliver bespoke solutions. For example, Intelligent Technologies does the billing for all of KPN, the Dutch telecoms provider’s landline calls.
It was this capability that first attracted the interest of Westcoast.
“Westcoast found us about two and a half years ago,” explains Adams. “They had a really complicated billing requirement that no other billing vendor they had spoken to could satisfy. We did a proof of concept and at the end of it their jaws dropped, and they said ‘Wow, get on with it’.
“That was for Westcoast Cloud. They asked us to create all the APIs into their marketplace so they could bill their 600 or 700 partners. About once a month each partner gets a file with all their Westcoast data on it, including Microsoft CSP, Azure and Attached Services data. We process that data and automate everything.”
Adams adds that distributors are attracted to Intelligent Billing because of its flexibility, whether they use it for cloud services, device-as-a-service or BOBO (billing on behalf of), where a distributor bills end customers and sends out invoices on behalf of resellers as a value-add service.
“They come to us purely because of the flexibility of our underlying technology. As long as they define their requirements, we can go away and add it to the core platform we’ve already got.”
Customisation is a common requirement in billing, but there is also demand from resellers/MSPs for productised solutions that automate virtually the entire billing process, from collecting customer cloud consumption data to populating accounting/invoicing systems.
To meet this demand, Intelligent Technologies offers two versions of its Intelligent Billing suite.
“One starts at £125 a month and even that is feature-rich,” explains Adams. “It comes with integrations into accounting systems and Direct Debit systems, a lovely user interface and reporting, and generates all the invoicing for customers, with their logos, so that they can manage everything themselves.
“Then, we have a more advanced Pro version that supports multiple distributors and data streams, so if someone uses distie A for one or more CSP products and Westcoast for something else, we can process the whole lot and convert it into one invoice. The Pro version is also multi-lingual, multi-currency and more automated, with more APIs.”
Adams says these solutions are ideal for IT resellers that still waste three or four days every month billing manually.
“There are a lot of small resellers out there that don’t have big budgets and have probably got into the habit of doing their billing over the weekend, using Excel spreadsheets. That’s fine if you don’t have loads of customers, but if you are ambitious and want to grow, it’s not sustainable.
“Our objective is to go to resellers and say ‘If you are spending three or four days a month on billing, we can eliminate 90% to 95% of that with an automated system’. The other benefits are that it is more accurate, and all that information can be integrated into accounting and direct debit systems, so there is no need for any duplication of entry.”
Adams adds that while some people use the Intelligent Billing solution as a black box to collect and process consumable data and generate output for feeding into an accounting system, others use it for everything, including the sending out of invoices, and at the end of the month just export data into the accounting system for P&L balance sheet purposes.
However it is used, Adams has no doubt that Intelligent Billing is set to become an invaluable tool for distributors and CSPs as they struggle with the complexity of billing for PaaS, SaaS and DaaS. “We expect the distie and CSP space to really take off and are hoping to see multiple 100% growth between now and this time next year.”
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