Q&A with BillRun: How Open Source is Helping Shape the Billing and Big Data Industries

Zenica JoyJan 04, 2018

Today's modern enterprises are utilizing the cloud and open-source technologies for their collaboration, conferencing, and team messaging needs. But both the cloud and open source projects can positively impact other areas of a business, too. Take for instance the accounting and finance departments. Through the flexibility offered by the cloud and the customization options offered by open source, these "always on" departments can gain access to real-time data in order to manage plans, rates, products, and services with ease. Plus, companies will find cloud-based solutions more appealing because they are often less expensive options when compared to traditional license-based software options.

Voip-info recently spoke with Koby Lif, the head of Sales and Marketing at BillRun, to discuss the impact of the cloud on the current state (and the future) of today's billing solutions. Lif also discussed how BillRun is helping support today's businesses by offering them a dynamic system that brings both the affordability and the agility that traditional billing solutions simply cannot compete with. 

Q: First and foremost, tell us a bit more about BillRun and some of your current solutions and clients.

A: BillRun Technologies was founded in late 2012, and has been focused from its inception in providing Open Source, effective and simple solutions to our customers. The company went through few changes, the major one, from a professional services company, developing software to customer specific needs to a product-driven company, leveraging on the know-how and IP in the Telecom industry, developing a full BSS [Business Support Systems] suite for Telecom operators and later expanding to other industries. BillRun is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel. 

Q: How has the growth in data (both in size and the variety of data) impacted the way companies view, analyze, and organize data? How can companies gain better insight into customers through data?

A: The immense influx of data has shaken all industries. Some of them are more receptive to the value of data while some other industries are still trying to find the value of such data and its impact on their business. This trend will clearly intensify with the growing adoption of IoT [Internet of Things] solutions, generating 'piles of data'. The Telecom industry is at the center of happenings in this case. Operators and CSPs are gearing up to leverage the data services they're providing to their customers.

koby lif head of sales and marketing at billrun
Koby Lif, the head of Sales and Marketing at BillRun

Data serves businesses to analyze customers patterns of behavior (e.g. purchasing habits, location-based patterns, etc.) and focus their products, services, and messages to their customers. Business can better segment their customer needs and craft proper products and services. This is a major change in all industries and has a long-term impact on customers, suppliers and overall markets trends.  

Q: In your opinion, how has the proliferation of open source projects helped today's businesses (regardless of industry) grow and adapt to their individual markets?

A: The Open Source 'movement' has reached a critical mass and is reshaping the SW industry. Its impact is seen in various dimensions. In the SW development arena, the majority of the new tools for developers launched in the market are Open Source. This will have a long-term impact on developers behavior, I suppose. In addition, market adoption of open source tools [DBs, Apps, Monitoring tools, etc.] by customers has put the traditional SW players under significant pressure and has changed the balance suppliers and customers toward customers choices. 

Furthermore, this phenomenon has generated new business models such as 'Freemium', Long-Term customer Value and others. It allows relatively small players, such as BillRun Technologies to compete with the largest SW players shoulder to shoulder.
Q: What direct benefits has the cloud and the growth of cloud technologies provided to billing solutions?

A: Cloud-Based Billing Solutions is a paradigm change and has a major effect on the global markets. It shifts the power from HW vendors to Cloud providers and SW solution providers, but mostly it allows businesses, the small and medium-sized ones, to enjoy the benefits of enterprise solutions at much lower costs.

Billing solutions is a good case to showcase this trend. While in the 90's the 'entry bar' to become a player in an industry [be in Telecom or any other] required significant up-front investments, today, with minimal/no investments, a business can start its operations and enjoy pricing models such as 'Pay as you Grow'. 

Established players in the markets can also benefit from this trend by modernizing their infrastructure at a fragment of the cost, compared with their initial investments. It provides the enterprise, the ability to react to market changes and lead the market at much faster pace. 

Q: What are some of the common issues you see businesses struggling with when it comes to billing solutions? How does BillRun help to remedy these problems?

A: Billing is a core system. It is the source of revenues for the company. It is also a very dynamic system as market requirements change frequently. Currently, businesses with legacy billing solution struggle to keep with market changes. 

BillRun, an open source billing, addresses these issues and provides customers with a scalable, tested and dynamic platform to address these needs and to enable them to react instantly to market developments.

Q: In your opinion, what are the three most crucial features or functions a billing solution needs to provide in order for it to be successful?

A: There are many crucial features and functions that make a billing solution a successful one. I'll mention the following:

1. Scalability - the ability to predict the system behavior in various conditions. If the number of subscribers will double you can predict exactly the costs related [infrastructure] to provide the same SLA. 

2. Flexibility - to changes in the market - minimizing the time to market to implement the needed changes in the billing solution to address the needs. This is, of course, in addition to feature richness. 

3. Data management - this includes revisions management [of products, services, plans, customers, usages, etc.] and the storing of data at a granular level as well as aggregating the data for analytics. 

Q: What makes BillRun's solution unique when compared to competitors in the same market? And how does your solution help customers achieve better flexibility and scalability?

A: BillRun's architectural design is different than most [all] other solutions as it uses a No-SQL database as the main data-store. It also differs as it has a built-in mediation module, allowing keeping the data from its inception stage up to cold data stages. Another aspect - are the tools used by BillRun [PHP in the back-end, React.JS in the front]. Finally, the fact BillRun is Open Source provides customers with the confidence to use an innovative solution and still have a community to support it.    

Q: What market trends or customer desires could we see shaping the billing solutions industry in the not too distant future?

A: The key trends I see:billrun company logo

1. BSS Modernization - the current/incumbent systems are cumbersome, rigid, costly and do not provide businesses with the agility they need. Many businesses are considering replacing and few already started doing so. I can foresee a major trend in this arena in the next 2-3 years. 
2. Convergence - Along with the previous trend, we see more and more mobile and fix line operators providing a new set of services [VoD, Netflix, etc.] to enrich their customer base. Old billing systems struggle to handle the convergence in a dynamic and easy manner. 
3. IoT - a whole new world of opportunities opens up to CSPs and operators that will be able to provide value to their customers. This is a major trend that will intensify in the next few years. Services such as Billing On Behalf, Split Billing and others will lead the replacement of existing systems. 

About BillRun

Founded in 2012, BillRun is an open-source monetization platform designed for big-data and focused on helping bring businesses to the next level. The company is driven by the goal to increase business success through open-source technologies, doing so with the help of their solutions focused on IoT, revenue assurance, fraud detection, and more. BillRun also offers their BillRun Cloud, a feature-rich, affordable cloud-based billing solution that provides companies with carrier-grade billing tools and a pay-as-you-grow design that is flexible and scalable and applicable to MVNO/MVNEs, VoIP providers, hosting, fleet management, digital businesses, and anyone who seeks out a billing system for subscriptions.