This year Now That’s What I Call Music will publish album number 108, and Cerillion is announcing version 21.1 of its product suite. In many ways this is a ‘greatest hits’ album for the company, building on its hybrid B2B and B2C heritage to bring the best of B2C to the business market, and addressing the ‘new normal’ of increased homeworking, contracting and consumerisation in the B2B market.
Cerillion has an unusual position, largely because of its heritage. Around 20 years ago it began offering its integrated BSS suite to smaller service providers who typically supplied B2B, B2B and B2G services but didn’t want and couldn’t afford separate systems.
Back then, when we all had less grey hair, I would joke about them being ‘the island billing company’ because so many of their customers comprised smaller telcos based on islands. But the company has come a long way in the last 20 years. It’s had an IPO and while it’s hung onto most, if not all, of those small telcos, it’s also expanded into the B2B market (both pure play and B2B-B2G hybrids) and took aim at bigger players.
“Our recent wins and the opportunities we’re seeing have emphasised the growth potential for us in B2B,” commented CMO Dominic Smith. CEO Louis Hall agrees, explaining that many B2B players are still held back by the inefficiencies and spiralling costs of dealing with elderly and bespoke systems which represents a significant opportunity. “Cerillion 21.1 addresses these issues head-on, empowering B2B sales teams whilst ensuring services are fulfilled efficiently, through an exciting set of new pre-integrated features and self-service capabilities,” he says.
These self-service capabilities are important. The SME market is a mass market phenomenon and cannot be managed like the large enterprise market. It’s also heavily hybridised with smaller companies – particularly in the Work Anywhere era – blending home use and work use to a degree that makes it challenging to separate and manage the payments of the two.
Two things have significantly changed here. The first is the scale of this with so many people working from home at least part of the week. The second is the issue of control. In the past companies dictated what ICT a worker could use and what they were willing to pay for. Today the homeworker selects the service provider they want and negotiates with the company for repayment. This is a new take on the old split billing paradigm – it’s not the company identifying and taking out the domestic calls, as in the past, but the employee charging the company for a fair share of the overall service cost.
“This might be a business saying ‘we’ll pay for 50Mbit/s broadband’,” explains Smith and the employee then decides whether they want to top that up to 100Mbit/s.”
This shift in sophistication – splitting service costs and not just charges – is only part of the challenge. The shift in power is not just a feature of Work Anywhere, but also of the move towards self-employment, contracting and more agile workforces. A short-term or contract worker is not going to shift broadband provider because a company has standardised on a particular provider. But a higher degree of flexibility is now needed if the business paying for the B2B services changes more frequently than the B2C customer.
What’s more, business customers increasingly expect a more consumerised experience at the front end when they’re buying. They expect offerings to be packaged, as well as easy and quick to buy. They’re comfortable self-tailoring and self-ordering.
The new version of Cerillion speaks to that market. It offers Lead and Opportunity management which builds on its existing CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote) capabilities. This delivers a native B2B sales module for managing the complete lifecycle from lead to prospect to onboarding and customer experience, unifying the B2B sales workflow in one pre-integrated suite.
Other enhancements include updates to Service Manager to allow service providers to handle bulk terminations and mass change orders in the B2B environment. A new dedicated portal enables businesses to easily split charges between the business and employee. Whilst employees retain control and billing responsibility for consumer-focused elements of the charges, this capability streamlines and automates payments for the elements the business has agreed to pay.
Louis Hall explains that his company believes these elements will support his customers’ emerging needs and says they will be immediately available through Cerillion’s ‘Evergreen Software Model’, which ensures access to biannual software releases.
Smith notes that Cerillion 21.1 is already being delivered to customers, including to Telesur under a recently announced 10 year deal.