Listen as Bramasol’s Navneet Bal provides a detailed discussion of SAP Billing and Revenue Innovation Management (BRIM), with a focus on key features such as Subscription Order Management, Convergent Invoicing, Convergent Charging, Entitlement Management, plus an overview perspective of how BRIM fits within the overall SAP ecosystem.

Also, below is a transcript of the podcast episode:

Jim Hunt: Hello, this is Jim Hunt for Bramasol’s Insights to Action podcast series. Today I’m very pleased to have Navneet Bal with us. Navneet is a senior solutions architect at Bramasol, and he has deep background in SAP BRIM, Billing and Revenue Innovation Management. Welcome, Navneet. It’s great to have you here. Maybe you can start off by giving us a broad overview of BRIM and what’s in it.

Navneet Bal: BRIM initially was designed and developed to handle large volumes of complex transactions, very complex business models, large customer bases, and this is the kind of revenues which flow through installed BRIM implementations

Some info on how Brim has developed. So back in 2000, 2007, 2008 timeframe, SAP made a strategic business decision to get into the telecom space and also to come up in the billing space. It wanted to compete against Oracle and other providers. So in 2009, it bought a French company called Hybris for Its charging system and then it integrated it with its own systems within ECC and it came up with the “order to cash” offering. That’s what the first name of BRIM was called as order to cash and it was an integrated solution. So the unique selling point, the USP of it was that it was an integrated solution. Not many companies were giving that offering for a period of time. BRIM has undergone many name changes from order to cash. It was called as BRIM then it was renamed as Hybris BRIM.

During the years when it was positioned under a different business unit, it was known as Hybris Billing. And then after 2018, the Hybris Billing name got changed back to BRIM and now it has continued. From starting off as an on-premise solution, BRIM has undergone many changes now it has is available in the cloud, known as the BRIM Cloud. It also got new products added to its portfolio. Subscription Billing is a very popular product now a days, and it was added in the 2017/2018 timeframe into the BRIM product. And then with separate components, SAP integrated the CRM and the billing systems into one in the digital core. From starting from the 1709 release Convergent Invoicing, Accounting, Subscription Order Management became part of one box. So that is a little overview of how BRIM has undertaken its journey and how it has grown over a period of many years. This is also to showcase that SAP has constantly been innovating and adding new products and new facets to this solution.

Jim Hunt: Thank you. Can you clear up what we should call BRIM? A lot of people want to call it an application, but there’s so many aspects to it. It seems like it’s more than that.

Navneet Bal: A lot of people think that BRIM as such is one solution. It’s not. It is a combination portfolio of solutions. It has different components and each of these components, the beauty of the solution is that they can also work standalone. So if you want to have a CRM, you can opt for Solution Order Management, you don’t need to take a charging solution or a invoicing solution. If you want invoicing solution only, you can opt for Convergent Invoicing and this will integrate well with any other standard systems out in the market. So when you take a BRIM solution from SAP, all these solutions come pre-integrated, but if needed, as required for the project, they can also be installed and implemented in standalone modes and without the other solutions and they can be integrated with third party solutions easily.

Jim Hunt: Thank you Navneet. A great overview. Let’s drill down into some of the major components in BRIM, starting with Subscription Order Management.

Navneet Bal: So the Subscription Order Management is the starting point of the BRIM solution and it is responsible for managing all of the customer and product master data. It enables our end customer to offer all kinds of services, physical goods, digital services, projects, all of them can be combined into one order. Subscription Order Management in short also does all kind of order fulfillment and orchestration of order fulfillment. It can create and handle complex product hierarchies and bundles. It is easily integrable with upstream quoting systems and downstream charging, invoicing, field management systems and warehouses, data warehouses, et cetera. It is also responsible for all kind of contract lifecycle management, upsell of contracts, resell of contracts, splitting of contracts, merging of contracts. All this is possible in the Subscription Order Management box. Also, it enables data management by enabling all kind of requirements which is relevant to a particular geography like security requirements, privacy requirements. All that is handled in the Subscription Order Management box. If you see there are some functionalities which are inside, so like things like product modeling, price modeling, document distribution. This is basically the distribution of all the master data into the downstream systems. This is a brief overview of the subscription order management.

Jim Hunt: Thank you. Next up, let’s talk about Convergent Invoicing.

Navneet Bal: The SAP Convergent Invoicing is the central invoicing and revenue management platform. It can take in input the billable items. That’s the key input into the converter invoicing system is known as BITs or billable items. So it can take in BITs from any kind of charging system. In an integrated BRIM solution implementation, it would be SAP Convergent Charging, but it can take in BITs from any kind of other systems also. It can configure multiple billing cycles and it can have different billing periods, daily, quarterly, hourly, et cetera. It has multiple processes, power processing capability. You can aggregate and group BITs based on the configuration required. You can do multiple types of discounts based on the volumes, based on type of functionality. Different types of billings can be done. Mass billing, manual billing, billing in different phases and also enables rebilling and related functionalities. It supports complex revenue sharing models with partners. This is one of the key features of Convergent Invoicing and you can also integrate it with Convergent Charging to enable really complex partner sharing revenue sharing models. And it is built to handle high volume and scalability for growing business models.

Jim Hunt: Thank you. You mentioned Convergent Charging a couple of times. Let’s drill down and talk a little bit more about that.

Navneet Bal: So Convergent Charging provides simplified management of prices using the cockpit or the existing APIs. It enables innovation with different kind of pricing and bundling scenarios. It enables rapid go-to market product launches, enabling customers to launch cross promotional offers or new services in a rapid configurable manner. It supports different payment strategies, meaning it can handle both prepaid and postpaid kind of business models or hybrid business models. It reduces cost reducing inefficiencies by enabling all kind of different payment models. Postpaid, Prepaid can be configured on one platform, similarly, recurring charges, one time charges, user charges, all of them can be configured in one system and we don’t need different systems for different kind of business models. It provides ease of scaling and very low latency and provides high nine availability and high throughput, which is required for high volume businesses and realtime businesses like telecom.

Jim Hunt: Thank you. And another important aspect we should touch on is Entitlement Management,

Navneet Bal: In the BRIM Cloud product, also there’s another product called the SAP Entitlement Management for managing all kind of entitlements. So this is a new product which is added to the BRIM portfolio and this all parts of the entitlement management and the subscription billing are based on the SAP Business Transformation Platform.

Jim Hunt: So Navneet, one of the things that you mentioned was the ability to pull information from legacy systems. Could you expand a little bit on the agnostic interface capabilities of BRIM and why they’re important?

Navneet Bal: Yes. So as I mentioned, you find very few cases where we see a startup model or as we call them, Greenfield implementations, where the customer is just starting their business and go for BRIM. Most of the places BRIM has to be inserted into an existing running system. So in that case, the customers, they might want to go for the full BRIM stack or they might want to take only a few BRIM components and then integrate it with their existing legacy systems. So that requires that ease of integration. So all the BRIM solutions, they provide that capability through highly configurable APIs. The APIs for Convergent Charging, they are web based or Java based. So all kinds of technologies are supported and these APIs enable a very quick integration to the existing legacy system. So that is why I said BRIM has a very good capabilities of integration with existing systems

Jim Hunt: Perfect. You also mentioned that BRIM is not an application, it’s a portfolio of applications. Is there a typical journey where, and I realize across industries it’ll likely be very different, but is there a typical entry point where many companies start and talk a little bit about, depending on where they enter, how easy is it to add other modules as they continue their journey?

Navneet Bal: So that’s a great question, Jim. So it depends actually on the business model and also the type of industry. So the product, which I think is if you look at all the implementations of BRIM across the globe across this history, probably Convergent Invoicing is the one which has been implemented in the most number of places. So if you have to say there’s one top performer in the BRIM portfolio or the most popular performer in the BRIM portfolio, it’ll be the Convergent Invoicing box. The reason being that it has very high capability of integrating different inputs into it and generating a converged output. So in that, I mean it can take in different billable items or billing documents and then generate a converged invoice. Because of that facility, it is probably the most implemented solution in the BRIM portfolio.

But if you say how does a typical BRIM journey start? The key point is it enables the subscription economy. So a customer who wants off to start on the subscription journey, typically has already a different kind of business model and it wants to move into the subscription model. They could start implementing the different BRIM products. So starting off, as I said, depending on where it is in this journey or what particular path it wants to take, it can choose different BRIM portfolio solutions or it can go for the full BRIM stack. So if it just needs to have managing of subscriptions and maybe it has its own billing system, it can just opt for SOM it can opt for Subscription Billing in case of the public cloud. So we have had customers in the recent past, who have been asking us that. They don’t have a complex business model, but want a solution which can rapidly launch and go to market.

So they want something which just manages the subscriptions and has simplified pricing models. So for that SAP Subscription Billing will be an ideal kind of product to start with. If they have some kind of complex needs, and you have various companies in the world wherein they have very complex models, or you have logistics companies which have complex pricing models where for each part of the journey of the particular SKU within the ecosystem, a particular price needs to be attached. So when that kind of complex pricing is required, probably SAP Conversion Charging will be the right kind of fit for that business. So that answer of which particular product take is dependent upon the kind of business journey and is probably best decided by the implementation team by doing a detailed workshop analysis of with the client.

Jim Hunt: Great. Thank you. You’d mentioned also scalability. Maybe you could give kind of a feel for the audience about how many transactions a day are involved. I know you mentioned millions or tens of millions of transactions. Is there any upper limit to the scalability of BRIM?

Navneet Bal: That’s a good question. So SAP frequently does testing in the labs, both in its own labs and in partnerships. And it has shown that BRIM is highly scalable. So one of the largest telecom providers in the world, which has currently I think about 500 million retail customers in India, runs on the BRIM platform. So BRIM supports that kind of model. All of the individual BRIM components are highly scalable. They provide both horizontal vertical scalability. The exact figures, Jim, probably I’ll have to search, I don’t have them off the top of my head, but as mentioned, the biggest example of a high-volume business is a retail customer where real-time online charging is required. That means when customers make calls or they do some data consumption, after the consumption or after the call is ended, a real-time notification is sent to the customer of what their current balance is. So that kind of real-time charging and notification is enabled and BRIM supports it. So that is one of the key USPs of BRIM – that it supports very high volume businesses.

Jim Hunt: Perfect, thank you. In the Digital Solutions Economy, we talk a lot about complex models that are not just a subscription for a product. They also often times have other things bundled in, such as entitlements or devices, and so on. Can you talk a little bit about how BRIM helps companies manage these bundled offerings?

Navneet Bal: Yes. So again, you touched upon the key USP of BRIM. So nowadays, if you see there’s subscription economy also goes hand in hand with partnering. So you can have a telecom provider partnering with a music company to provide music to its retail customers. So once the consumption of that particular item happens, so then a revenue needs to be shared down the stream, it needs to be shared with, the music company needs to be shared with a particular artist or some other intermediaries in between. So that kind of model where the revenue from the customer has to be split on a different basis, can be on a pre-decided basis or based on some tiers or based on hierarchies or based on that particular agreement. So such complex kind of models are available. So these models can be configurable and supported in BRIM across different boxes. So Convergent Invoicing and Convergent Charging are the two key boxes for this kind of revenue model and sharing of revenue models. So this is highly possible in BRIM.

Jim Hunt: That’s great. And you touched on something that brings me to another question and that’s about compliance and that’s specifically revenue recognition, which is one of Bramasol’s leadership strengths. Can you talk a little bit about how the BRIM model being part of SAP and also the SAP Revenue Accounting and Reporting (RAR) app, how those things go together?

Navneet Bal: Yes, I mentioned that that is the beauty of SAP. Because SAP has very strong financials and is known in the corporate world to having great support for that. So BRIM was developed to support core financials, it doesn’t need to be separately integrated with a backend financial system. In most other billing systems, you’ll have a front end, they’ll have a CRM they have a good charging system and they’ll have billing system. But the backend part, the connectivity to finance is not there and it generally has to be implemented, customized, or it has to be done in the first year project. But with BRIM, that is not the case. BRIM comes already pre-integrated with SAP financials. So once the invoicing happens in the Convergent Invoicing box, all the revenue postings and the integration with revenue accounting is there and the general ledger is there. Controlling is there, and it is provided in the FICA and the revenue accounting models. When you talk about compliance. So again, with SAP being a European company and Europe having one of the highest standards of compliance, so SAP makes sure that all these products support compliance. It can be a small thing as the masking of your credit card information. So once the credit card information is there, all the BRIM boxes make sure that that data is highly secure and it is not available for any kind of manipulation as it is highly encrypted and secure.

Jim Hunt: That’s great, thank you. And then before we wrap up, maybe you could talk some about the overall benefits of BRIM and the other applications like AR and so on, being part of the S/4HANA ecosystem. And so for customers going forward, what does their S/4HANA journey look like and if they start with BRIM how does that lead them into the future with S/4HANA?

Navneet Bal: So the overall BRIM journey of a customer, as I mentioned, it starts with a customer trying to move into the subscription system, subscription digital economy, and the subscription based economy. So SAP has been constantly innovating. So earlier, as I mentioned, when we started off in the BRIM journey, so we had separate boxes when it was mainly your CRM system, your billing system, and your charging system. So, all of them were in separate boxes but as the product has evolved, SAP has integrated them. So now, in the S/4HANA box, you have your Solution Order Management, which basically provides your CRM capabilities and your Convergent Invoicing and FICA, which provides your invoicing, billing, and financial management capabilities. So all of them are present in one box, along with your Convergent Charging and Conversion Mediation if any kind of data mediation is required is available in separate boxes. And they are also available on the cloud.

So once the journey starts, the customer doesn’t need to have too many implementations. And the advantage is also that it integrates with your existing ECC application. So most of the BRIM products all have APIs, which enable them enable integration with the existing ECC implementations of the customer. Talking about revenue recognition, as I mentioned, BRIM is easily integrated with revenue recognition, so you don’t need to have a separate revenue recognition system. Once you have the Brim box and S/4HANA box, you can enable revenue recognition for it, which provides more ease of operations for the customer in that they don’t have to go look for different kinds of solutions. They can just look for the BRIM solution, which will provide all their end-to-end requirements for their different business models, different complexities. It can do that.

Jim Hunt: That’s great, thank you. Just one last question and from your experience with BRIM, which goes back essentially to the beginning, can you talk a little bit about what industries you’re seeing BRIM get a lot of traction with? And the list is probably pretty long, but maybe just hit the highlights.

Navneet Bal: Yeah, so as I mentioned, because the whole economy, as you mentioned is changing. So BRIM was initially designed for telecom businesses because telecom was probably at that time the flagship for the digital economy. It has a subscription based model, right? The telecom industry runs on that. But as it grown, we have seen customers with different kinds of industries also going into the subscription business. So you have your Ubers, you have Volvo cars, which have your subscription based models for your taking for cars. You have companies like Lexmark, which provide printing as a service. So you pay not for the printer, but the number of printouts you do in a particular period. And you have tolls. In North America, probably the world’s busiest highway, toll Road is 407 in Ontario, and that runs on BRIM. The backend of it is done on BRIM. And SAP itself, it’s cloud business runs on BRIM. Also many other companies, big companies which have their big subscriptions which support millions of customers. There’s one particular customer which has more than 500 to 600 million customers, which runs on the subscription and that also runs on BRIM.

Jim Hunt: That’s great. Thank you very much. This has been a great podcast. I know our listeners will learn a lot from it, and I look forward to talking with you more in the future and ane drilling down into some of the specific aspects of RIM. Thank you very much.

Navneet Bal: Thank you, Jim, and it has been a pleasure talking to you and also gave me an opportunity talk about BRIM and explain it to a wider audience. Thanks a lot.

You may also be interested in…