To Get to the Right Cloud Billing Solution, Pick the Right Partner

In a recent survey, nearly 70% of companies said implementing a hybrid cloud strategy was a top priority. That means a large majority of businesses currently have, or will have, partnerships with service providers and vendors to help successfully deploy and run these strategies.

Cloud computing has many benefits, one of which is the sheer number of opportunities for businesses to monetize their offerings in various ways across multiple markets. In the past, recurring and usage billing was an early tactical advantage deployed primarily by telecom and cable providers. And while still used by those industries today, SaaS cloud billing solutions now offer agile and flexible billing options so that almost any business can find multiple ways and geographies to monetize their products. SaaS billing is becoming the key player in any enterprise to create a sustainable revenue growth, regardless of what the offering is.

The ability to create sustainable revenue growth makes selecting a SaaS billing partner, and I emphasize partner, a very important and critical decision. It goes beyond the usual feature/function fit, pricing models, or the availability of integrating to various other solutions like CRM and ERPs. I’m talking about actually partnering with the SaaS provider. After all, companies place their revenue streams, as well as their customer relations to a certain extent, in the hands of their partners so it’s imperative that the partnership, like a marriage, is strong and in it for the long haul.

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For example, during my early days at Pitney Bowes, we evaluated multiple SaaS billing vendors to support a new online, recurring SMB service. From early on, the eventual winner met 80%+ of our technical requirements (which was still above the others), but the winning recipe was built on the vendor’s culture, team, and their willingness to build a long-term business relationship with Pitney.

I cannot emphasize enough how important a strong, stable partnership is to the success of a cloud-based strategy. Even if a potential vendor meets close to 100% of the technical requirements you believe the solution would offer, you are actually dependent on the “partner” to deliver its side of the bargain by working with you to complete a successful go-to-market strategy. The relationship does not end with a signed contract. It ends when the partner successfully helps you achieve the goal by seeing the strategy through from beginning till end.

In the end, Pitney chose Aria Systems as its SaaS billing partner, not its SaaS billing solution, for a number of reasons, including Aria’s ability to: 1) understand what the business needed; 2) define and propose an executable strategy; and 3) get immersed in the solution offering beyond just the billing side. Pitney’s relationship with Aria was not just a technical integration. It was a good partnership in the making, evident in the fact that Pitney and Aria have been working together for five years and counting.

Businesses of all sorts are taking advantage of the opportunity to monetize. The field is open for all industries to create subscriptions and offers for any type of product, whether digital, service-oriented, or even physical. This differs greatly from licensing and on-premise offerings, as companies are now dependent on their partners to manage clients and bill clients, account for their money, and deliver end-to-end customer success stories.

Once you’ve chosen a partner, implementation is the next big thing in line, which will be the subject of my next post.

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About the Author

Bob Feghali
Bob Feghali has over 30 years of experience in information technology and more than 15 years in e-commerce. He currently provides consulting services to the eCommerce and Saas billing industries, where he often teams up with Aria Systems to educate consumers on recurring revenue. Previously he served as the Vice President of Global SMB eCommerce Operations for Pitney Bowes, where he has been integrally involved in the launch of a series of digital products focused on serving the communications, marketing and growth needs for small and medium sized businesses and consumers globally.

The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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