Customers want choice, but they also want simplified bills. That combination means a lot of complexity behind the scenes in order to deliver that experience, and a great deal of integration with other IT systems.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as many of the dynamics in the world of billing have changed as more companies deliver more choice and pricing options, said Sean Rollings, vice president of marketing for Aria Systems, which just launched its new Aria Crescendo monetization platform.
Rollings said many organizations are migrating from billing for physical products and invoicing a customer for a one-time purchase to more variety in pricing and payment options for subscription services. More significantly, they have embraced a strategy of recurring revenue streams, which means rather than a transactional relationship, they are looking to establish ongoing ones that they can capitalize on.
Recurring relationships enable organizations to understand their customer better and make changes to their product and capitalize on retention, he said. Many traditional industries are moving to a recurring revenue model and usage-based pricing, bundles and promotions. While this is great for customers, it’s been difficult for vendors.
Rollings said B2B environments are challenging for billing due the complexity of delivering products and services in different regions with different regulatory frameworks. B2C environments are also complex – take a family phone plan, that has different members of the family using different devices and services. “Systems need to reflect that kind of sophistication.”
Meanwhile, there all sorts of processes going on the background, which Rollings calls the “Wizard of Oz” syndrome. “Behind the curtain there is so much complexity.” Customers, meanwhile, want choice, simplicity, accuracy and transparency, even if they change the products and services they are using on a regular basis.
Organizations also want the speed and agility to bring new products to market faster, he added. “They need to change their product catalog rapidly. Existing billing systems are so rigid they can’t keep up with these dynamic spaces.”
Rollings said that billing has grown to become part of the broader business process of monetization, and that requires integration with other systems, such as CRM, because that’s where the customer is managed. It also needs to be integrated with traditional ERP because it’s the system of record for financials. “Who is going to be the product owner? That is one of the considerations of a billing system.”
The Active Orchestration feature in Aria Crescendo synchronize events and data across the business, coordinating push-pull actions in CRM and other systems to better manage recurring revenue, he said.
The current reality is that many organizations are embracing a bimodal strategy by continuing to use the systems that have got this this far, but adopting cloud-based monetization platforms such as Aria Crescendo for new capabilities and services, said Rollings. “You can have the best of both worlds. You don’t have to rip and replace.”