Salesforce and Aria team up for AI-enhanced telco billingSalesforce and Aria team up for AI-enhanced telco billing
Salesforce and Aria announce strategic partnership and billing SaaS enhanced with limited generative AI features.
September 7, 2023
Salesforce and Aria Systems have entered a strategic partnership on billing and customer management as Salesforce steps up its telco-sector challenge to Amdocs, which holds a bigger share of this market.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) offer, described as a "concept-to-care solution for billing and customer management," will draw on Aria's expertise in using AI for customer relationship management (CRM), with generative AI features from Salesforce Einstein added to "personalize customer touchpoints." Based on this, it seems genAI use will be strictly limited to communication with the customer, rather than featuring in any core elements of the software.
(Source: Pitinan Piyavatin/Alamy Stock Photo)
"I don't think you'll find there is much AI in the billing solution," said James Crawshaw, a principal analyst at Omdia (a Light Reading sister company), in an email. "Aria Billing Cloud can connect to other systems (like Salesforce Customer 360) that use AI (e.g., to make recommendations to a customer care agent or make a summarized transcript of a call)." He added: "You certainly wouldn't want your bill being made with genAI unless you were happy to have some random numbers thrown at you occasionally."
Salesforce vs Amdocs
GenAI still has problems to overcome, including hallucinations and copyright issues. And even though it might eventually transform parts of the telco sector (and make a massive dent in its workforce), change is likely to be incremental. The more important implications of the announcement are on the business side of things.
"What is interesting about the news is that Aria is now Salesforce's de facto billing solution for the telecom industry," said Crawshaw. "Salesforce's billing solution just wasn't up to snuff for telco requirements."
Some of the features have already been deployed and tested by telcos including Telstra, Liberty Latin America and M1. The solution is intended to address the needs of technology, media, communications and entertainment companies, as they manage subscription and usage-based services on a single platform.
"As enterprises and communication service providers prioritize digital transformation to enable personalized experiences at scale, our partnership with Salesforce introduces a comprehensive SaaS solution that unlocks and monetizes tailored services," said Tom Dibble, Aria's president and CEO, in prepared remarks.
For Salesforce, the partnership seems like an attempt to bolster its offer in the telco billing market. "[It] is worth noting that Amdocs, which has a much bigger share of the telco billing market than Aria, recently decided to partner with Microsoft in a similar way: Amdocs' billing solution with Microsoft's CRM (Dynamics 365)," said Crawshaw, adding that "it will be interesting to see which pairing wins out."
— Tereza Krásová, Associate Editor, Light Reading
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