Software Eats Billing (Part 2)

In last week’s post we talked about software eating billing. How does it happen?

The first thing to understand is that billing creates a bi-product which is actually much more valuable than billing itself.

The billing process creates a story. It’s full of facts and circumstances. The story can be understood and retold in different ways. It’s the story of an interaction between desire and fulfillment. Traditional billers ignore it completely.

Our story begins with a hero, the shopper. We can piece together a lot of facts about our hero. Where he’s located when the story begins. The time of day that the story takes place. If this is the first time he has ventured out or the continuation of his journey. What he has brought with him. How much money he can access. Even in some cases his background information like religion and eduction and the type of job he holds.

We can use these facts to tell the story of our hero a thousand different ways. It depends on the perspective we choose. How do we want to look at the facts? What’s most important to know about him? What hardly matters at all?

Then there is his objective. Our hero desires something. But there are obstacles in our hero’s path. These obstacles can be so big they stop him from reaching his goal. Or they can be small, easy to overcome.

Some of the obstacles are placed there by us on purpose, others can’t be removed but can be made bigger or smaller.

The data collected about our hero can be used to shape an offer that fulfills his desire. It’s an old idea. Imagine the medieval market (or any traditional market today in the Arab world). Each interaction between the shopper and the seller is unique, a deal making process.

Here’s another, opposite way to talk about billing. It’s not about a story. It’s a utility. Like your electric company. It’s job is to just to move 1’s and 0’s over the internet. That’s the common view online today. It doesn’t add a lot of value. It’s a toll that everyone has to pay. From this perspective billing is a necessary evil.

However, this ignores the byproduct, which is 90% of the data. It just gets lost.

The “point of sale” gives us access to very valuable data about products and consumers. It’s the data we need to tell a story about heroes, desires, challenges and fulfillment. Learning these stories lets us use artificial intelligence to personalize the sales process. One way we do that is by changing prices. That, it turns out, is very valuable. In fact, giving the right price to each shopper can create more value that billing costs. This software approach to billing, which is impossible without artificial intelligence, makes it a profit center for our clients.

We’re entering a new phase of the story of billing. The boring beginning is over. This is the exciting part. The title of this section is: “Software eats billing.”

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