Through Cloud Billing, IT Builds Better Business

Mark Dudman
As businesses move their delivery models to the cloud, IT faces demands from every department of the organization. Customer service wants to deliver more self-help options. Marketing demands mechanisms capable of delivering new packages and promotions. Accounts receivable needs to ensure revenue is collected appropriately to reflect dynamic agreements with customers. All of these requirements can be supported by IT, and all of them are vital to the success of the cloud-based business. By building monetization processes specifically tailored to the cloud, IT has an opportunity to facilitate all of these functions.

Here are four ways IT can play a strategic role in building the business by delivering cloud-capable billing:

Scale easily by delivering self-service customer care: When customers can quickly find the product or service they want, try it out and purchase it through a Web portal without assistance, companies generate revenue without additional costs. As long as the organization offers an easy path toward a purchase, along with a compelling product with brand awareness, the need for sales support in or out of the cloud should be minimal. Prospects can click to buy on their own without completing multiple conversations and processes with a company rep. That speeds the sales cycle and makes for a better customer experience, while also establishing a foundation to scale from a modest customer base to a sizable one.

Manage dynamic customer relationships as users downgrade and upgrade at will: Even today, as the cloud remains in its infancy, customers have become accustomed to its flexibility. Consumers want to upgrade or downgrade their agreements instantly, and this can present some challenges to business. Without the right technology in place, the dynamic subscription economy can quickly turn into an accounting quagmire. Cloud monetization keeps companies from getting bogged down in that potential mess. Users can move up or down the consumption ladder without triggering a need for manual adjustments. Instead, automated billing measures and manages dynamic business models and bundles offerings to maximize revenue. Such a solution also sets the stage for an easier move into globalization, since adjustments for foreign currencies and taxes can be made easily.

Enable marketing to quickly monetize new promotions and packages: At this point in the evolution of the cloud, the IT challenge represents about 20 percent of the hurdle to success. The other 80 percent comprises business needs, many of which stem from marketing. If marketing can dream it, can IT make it real? The answer is more likely to be 'yes' after a company loosens its grip on legacy or patchwork billing solutions. An adequate monetization strategy is marketing's best friend, enabling a company to offer promotions in whatever form the marketing team deems most likely to succeed. In certain industries that might be selling services by seat, by minute, by storage or by subscription. It might also be some combination or something completely different. Regardless, limitations should not stem from billing or IT.

Pricing can also be used to test marketing strategies. The psychological value of pricing models is real, but determining the specific elements that present the greatest value requires some testing. Data from such multivariate testing can be collected and analyzed within a monetization platform. Marketers can then analyze those numbers to determine which coupons, promotions or bundles gain the greatest traction with prospects.

Optimize resources based on customer usage levels: The beauty of the cloud is that companies can tailor packages for users who might want an enterprise-level product or service that costs thousands of dollars, while also serving the individual user at a low price point or even via a freemium model. That system only works, though, when the most lucrative users gain premium access and others are directed toward off-peak service hours. Cloud-based monetization solutions make this possible by triggering pricing incentives to guide customers toward desired usage patterns.

A Business Opportunity, Enabled by IT

Monetization of the cloud is about the voice of the customer. Billing in this environment must allow cloud companies to hear and respond to that voice. Therefore, the billing options IT should deliver to business units must offer much more than invoice generation. Instead, IT can deliver dynamic agreements that touch multiple services and departments. Behind the portal a customer might use for self-service care and purchasing, IT can establish links to nearly every business-building function, including: account creation, entitlements, product changes, usage and subscriptions, payment capture, notifications, customer relationship management and more. When all of these connections are in place, IT becomes the source of the options, community, support and ease-of-use that today's users expect.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 25, 2011 1:08 PM Paul Oliver Paul Oliver  says:
Strongly in line with a focus I am building on convincing SMB's that their data center is non-value adding physical presence and time sapping effort as IT is not able to focus on what are the true customer needs. Your article and practice seems to give IT the process and practices after moving to the cloud to tie directly into the customer needs, wants and those services that delivery real value through a the agreements and billing services. Are their actual customers who you have worked with in the SMB market? Reply
Aug 29, 2011 2:08 PM MarkDudman MarkDudman  says:
Hi Paul. Thank you for your positive feedback. I very much agree with you that moving to, or developing for, the cloud creates a critical opportunity to re-evaluate core competencies and prioritize where value can be truly added. We do deal directly with both customers and channel partners in the SMB space. You can find more information about us at and I would be happy to discuss this further with you personally. Reply

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