Oracle, Lucent Team on B-to-B Billing

FRAMINGHAM (06/28/2000) - Oracle Corp. and Lucent Technologies Inc. Software Products Group are moving into the business-to-business billing market with a combined offering intended for the telecommunications and energy utilities industries.

The partnership will give clients a "one-link, cohesive suite" for online billing, executives from both companies said Tuesday.

The full product will be available in the third quarter this year, Lucent Software President Kenan Sahin said. Three telecommunications companies -- two American and one European -- have shown interest in the product, which would allow them to handle billing with their business partners online, he added.

"Demand isn't going to be a problem. Pent-up demand is huge," Sahin said. The offering is a direct response to customer requests, according to Sahin.

The product isn't necessarily backward-compatible with existing Oracle software installed in many companies, Sahin and Jay Nussbaum, executive vice president at Oracle, acknowledged. However, they said companies are ready to upgrade since Y2K-compliance issues are no longer a problem.

Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut, said at a conference in March that re-engineering billing systems to conform with new software, such as the Lucent-Oracle offering, is a hurdle.

This isn't the first business-to-business online billing option on the market, and utilities have offered their residential customers the opportunity for months, Litan said. Back-end compliance with the new billing system is still the major challenge for companies to overcome, Litan added.

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