Billing is a component of the telecoms industry that every service provider and reseller needs to think about. However, until now, very few organisations have gone beyond the legacy strategies for billing to tap into new and disruptive ways of interacting with their customers. Strategic Imperatives, one of the leaders for SaaS cloud billing in the United Kingdom, is taking billing to a brand-new level with their multi-currency and multi-country billing platform, “Elevate.”
Elevate provides today’s communications service providers with a flexible and robust platform that they can use to manage multiple currencies and brands at the same time whilst billing for any service, product or event. I caught up with the Managing Director of Strategic Imperatives, Wail Sabbagh to learn more about this innovative company, and the unique billing solution that they provide.
Tell Us About Strategic Imperatives
First, I was keen to learn more about the background of Strategic Imperatives as a company. Wail told me that the business began in 2006 fundamentally as a technology organisation. “We’ve always operated as a SaaS model from day one, starting off in the provisioning world, and moving over into the billing environment about four years ago. Today we have about 200 customers all the way from big companies like Vodafone, Plusnet, and Verizon, to smaller resellers and brands.”
Wail himself has been in the technology industry for a long time. “I come from a technology background, starting off as a developer, and then gradually moving on to develop Strategic Imperatives.”
Today, the organisation’s customer base is made up of service providers and resellers from various backgrounds, although Wail noted that they plan on focusing heavily on telecommunications customers in the future.
For everyone connected to the telecoms world, there have been some significant changes in the market over recent years. The Telco space is brimming with growth, consolidation, and the continued movement to the cloud. I asked Wail what kinds of trends he’s noticed in the last 12 months ago.
“Growth is everywhere. We’re seeing consolidation across the board, and new start-ups coming into the market too. The interesting thing is that the profiles of those start-ups have changed slightly, they’re much more tech savvy today than they once were.”
Wail noted that a critical change for Strategic Imperatives in the last few years has been the way that customers have begun to embrace SaaS as a go-to-market strategy. “When we first started selling a SaaS offering, it wasn’t easy. Now, SaaS is almost a requirement, as people want things that work more seamlessly in any environment.
“A fundamental change for us over the last three to four years is when we first stated going to a customer and telling them we had a SaaS offering – it was a hard sell. What we’ve seen now is that SaaS is almost a requirement. In terms of companies looking for solutions, SaaS is the preferred options – also, from a solution perspective, there has been a definite move away from the closed systems of a few years ago, and today, there is more of a requirement for APIs, open integration and so on.”
Multi-currency and Multi-country Telecoms Billing
Strategic Imperatives launched their new multi-currency and multi-country strategy to serve many of their customers who are now planning to expand their businesses beyond the United Kingdom. Wail told me that the company has seen a lot of expansion of late in terms of globalisation. “At first, it was just a handful of service providers who acquired customers overseas and needed to bill them. It wasn’t too much of a technical challenge back then. However, now we’re looking at service providers who want to establish themselves in different spaces, and that’s a completely different situation.”
Wail told me that Strategic Imperatives began looking at the concept of multi-currency and multi-country support for their award-winning platform about 18 months ago.
“There’s been a lot of challenges, not only making a change to the UI but also supporting suppliers from different locals and so on. We’ve changed the entire platform to be multi-currency and multi-national so that service providers can easily access the functionality of Elevate in a range of environments.”
How Easy Is it for Service Providers to Take Billing Overseas?
Wail told me that there are a number of challenges for service providers going overseas from a technical perspective.
“I think for us the challenge of operating internationally is made much easier because of our open platform and SaaS model.”
As companies in the UK continue to actively grow their businesses outside of the country, Strategic Imperatives aims to simplify the expansion process by offering them a system that provides migration as a service, support for multiple currencies and multiple brands. “It’s not just about different currencies, but different VAT challenges and other concerns too. We’ve put a lot of effort into really understanding these different markets.”
What’s more, Elevate provides more than just the option to expand beyond borders for UK service providers, it also gives them the speed, functionality and innovative performance that they need to manage their billing while maintaining financial-grade security. All that, and the API-first approach means that Elevate integrates easily with various third-party systems for more connected business processes and operations.
What’s Next for Strategic Imperatives?
I was keen to find out more about where Strategic Imperatives might be heading as a brand; Wail told me that the company is a team of truly passionate people that are looking forward to the future.
“Next, we’ll be looking to transform our offering into a strong analytics endpoint. I believe that’s where the future is. Billing isn’t a popular word in telecoms; it’s just something you must have. However, taking billing and turning it into an analytic strategy and assurance platform is how we can take things to the next level.”
“We want to give our customers a real insight into their margins, profitability, customer behaviour and more.”
Strategic Imperatives want to give service providers access to the capabilities and infrastructure that they couldn’t access in the past. We can’t wait to see what comes next.