Ever wondered how it is that two people make a similar call, fly next to one another on a plane, rent the same type of virtual server or use the same SaaS application but end up paying totally different bills. Big companies have understood since a long time that rating and charging is the key to making more money for the same service. As long as the user can be convinced that they are paying more because of some valid reason (e.g. prepaid contract, same-day return flight, on-demand vs reserved instance, monthly vs yearly subscription, etc.), a similar service can be sold at different prices.
For a long time it was expensive to do advanced rating and charging. Licensing could easily be millions. That day has changed. After a very productive discussion, OpenRate has decided to offer again a free GPL version of their open source rating and mediation solution.
Why is an open source rating and mediation solution so important?
Online charging, rating and mediation used to be something that only the most diehard telecom experts could really grasp. There was no need for it outside of the telecom and some other major industries.
However P2P, Mobile Apps, Cloud Computing, M2M, Social Networks, Online Games, Big Data, etc. have brought us VoIP for P2P, In-App Micro Payments & Subscriptions, mCommerce, IaaS, SaaS, PaaS, sensor network event subscription, social commerce, fire hose subscriptions, virtual goods purchases, data set per-event access fees, etc. All of these technologies are exploring new ways of generating money. Unfortunately none is able to afford a €1-€5/license per user per month for a professional solution. At least not from day one. With OpenRate developers, marketers, product managers, etc. are able to explore new frontiers in monetization without any upfront risk. Subscriptions, one-time-fees, pre-paid, real-time charging, discounts, etc. it is all possible now. OpenRate is a very flexible framework in which developers can use what they need.
So if you are incubating a SaaS offering that wants to push the limits of prepaid and subscriptions, an online game with a catalogue of virtual goods, a social network with a cashflow problem, an M2M platform in need of money, an IaaS seller with a large set of configurable parameters, etc. you should be looking at how rating and charging can make you more money…
Of course if you are new to the rating and charging market and want training, consultancy or need a support contract, be sure to check out the OpenRate Commercial Offering. OpenRate is a freemium company that wants to understand your specific needs in order to offer the best possible solutions, so get in contact with them on the OpenRate Linkedin Community Site.
It would be good to see OpenRate be integrated with other Open Source and Freemium solutions, e.g. open source commerce solutions, like OpenCart, could use an advanced SaaS subscriptions and discount management extension, etc. This is an open invitation for developers to let their imagination flow and share it with the rest of us…
eBay’s CEO, John Donahoe, says that ecommerce is over and social commerce is the next thing. Social commerce is all about having a mobile with you and checking which of your friends or family has bought this item in the past. If your friends say “not good”, then you are likely to say “no purchase”. Additionally social commerce allows for online shops to steal away purchases from brick-and-morter shops.
Social commerce in its most basic form should be about having your social network help you to make the right decisions. However for guerilla marketers this is a new heaven in which mouth-to-mouth publicity can be “influenced” with the likes of Facebook…
How can operators do social commerce?
For their own services, it can be as easy as having a Facebook integration in their online shop that says which friends have purchased the service and how satisfied they are. It means that all the telecom catalog is added to Facebook’s social graph so people can see who is using what and what is their feedback.
Operators could go a step further and make a social commerce PaaS to allow everybody that has something to sell to use social commerce. A good social commerce PaaS should offer:
- The basics for a regular white-branded web and mobile shop (web/mobile store, unified catalog, shopping carts, white-labelled billing, analytics, reporting, provisioning, payment gateways, etc.).
- Integration into social networks (all catalog items are automatically added to Facebook, Twitter, etc.; tools to engage communities with loyalty/rewards; open stores in Facebook, eBay, Amazon, etc.; blogs, socialCRM, Youtube videos, etc.)
- Support tools (sales tracking, ERP connectors, helpdesk tools, etc.)
- APIs to manage all back-office tasks (e.g. procurement, shipping, etc.) and to automate all processes (adding products to a catalog, etc.)
- Value-added services: NFC payment for mobile that support it, billing & subscription management via your telecom invoice, call center on-demand to support customer’s customers, etc.
Operators should not reinvent the wheel and partner with existing players or solution providers that can provide parts of the overall platform.
Revenues can come from sign-up fees, monthly subscriptions, revenue share, resource usage, etc.
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