BT ups revenue as billing switch is completed early

BT has reported substantially increased revenues after its IT department used advanced technology to migrate the records of its 500 largest business customers from a legacy mainframe-based system to a state-of-the-art billing system 13 months ahead of schedule.

BT has reported substantially increased revenues after its IT department used advanced technology to migrate the records of its 500 largest business customers from a legacy mainframe-based system to a state-of-the-art billing system 13 months ahead of schedule.

The project involved the transfer of millions of customer billing records, dating back 15 years. Its success has allowed the company to introduce new telecoms services 18 months ahead of schedule, contributing to a £100m increase in revenue, said BT.

The migration is the first stage in a project by the company to move to a single billing system, Geneva from Convergys, as BT realigns its IT around off-the-shelf packages, rather than bespoke technology.

“The project is the first time we have done a billing migration of that scale with customers of that size,” said BT chief architect George Glass.

Transferring the data from BT’s existing system to Geneva, which runs on HP Unix servers, would have taken 18 months using traditional data migration techniques. This would have involved moving data from the legacy system to a holding database and cleaning and manipulating it, before transferring it to the new database. But with this method the data rapidly becomes outdated, said Glass.

Instead, the company hired portfolio management tools supplier Celona to automate the data cleansing and transfer process. This allowed the telecoms supplier to run both billing systems in tandem for six months using a single set of data, while it tested the systems for compatibility.

By maintaining a single instance of the data, customers were able to access their billing records and order services without disruption while the migration was underway.

“The key thing was to ensure the integrity of the data that comes out of the billing system so that we did not lose the confidence of our customers,” said Glass. “Celona intelligently switches data between the old and the new billing systems so we could do confidence and accuracy testing.”

The telcoms supplier has begun the migration of billing records for broadband services. Voice services will migrate next year, with mobile services to follow.

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