In today’s per-per-use age, IaaS businesses have been enjoying tremendous growth, thanks to their ability to offer computing, storage, and security services on-demand to those who need it. Since services can easily be scaled up or down based on unique needs, IaaS customers can meet their SLAs quickly and cost-effectively. IaaS also allows them to use multiple services concurrently, with different pricing and bundling options.
It is due to these capabilities that the IaaS market is expected to be worth $6.52 billion in 2021!
But despite IaaS making it extremely easy for organizations to run their business, those providing these services need to constantly come up with new business models and billing approaches to address the many challenges that come their way.
Unique Challenges in IaaS Billing
Businesses looking to enjoy the full potential of their IaaS services are well-aware of the different roadblocks that delay time-to-market and time-to-value. Offering new and modern service bundles, along with the option of mixing and matching different services and different billing cycles is a Herculean task.
Here are 5 unique challenges that constantly plague the IaaS industry, and how a robust billing platform can help to achieve success in a highly competitive IaaS market space.
Challenge 1: Scaling dynamic pricing models
The first major challenge that IaaS businesses have to deal with is scaling dynamic pricing models. Creating different product and pricing plans with configurations that are tailored to the different local markets require constant manual intervention, making the process complex and error-prone. Although such models are a great way to meet the fluctuating needs of IaaS customers, scaling them based on various parameters and enabling flexible rating is a complex endeavor.
A robust billing platform comes with a modern Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) engine that allows IaaS businesses to easily configure multiple complex products with varying charge types (e.g., one time, variable, metered, etc.). They can create a variation on a product in a different currency and also assign a relevant tax code for a specific regional market. Using CPQ, they can personalize new product offers, set up a limited period discount or unique promotional bundle, and easily attract new customers.
Challenge 2: Enabling flexible rating
IaaS businesses often struggle with scaling and automating their billing operations and ensuring revenue tracking accuracy. With no mechanism in place to efficiently calculate product usage, they find it difficult to apply relevant charges and develop and manage invoicing. Sending payment reminders, facilitating online payments, and tracking and categorizing revenue for accounting and reporting purposes also becomes problematic.
Solution: Usage Rating Engine
Modern billing platforms offer easy UI-driven usage charge definitions that allow IaaS businesses to map CDR files to usage charges. They can seamlessly handle bulk usage transaction records via a modern UI and enable seamless API integration processing CDR ratings. Built-in Usage Rating Engine allows for computing charges based on actual usage of any service, and in any form including storage kilobytes, MB, GB, calls, minutes, licenses, features, software usage, data, messages sent, bandwidth, and more. Furthermore, integration with taxation platforms makes it easy to apply the correct taxation codes to different products and services, helping minimize potential tax audit risk.
Challenge 3: Provisioning different services with set quotas
Another challenge that is rife in the IaaS industry is provisioning different services with set quotas – with as little manual intervention as possible. In the absence of an automated mechanism, users have to manually define workflows, tasks, and subtasks and move orders through different stages of the order fulfillment process. They also have to manually associate rules with individual tasks and activate, modify, deactivate, suspend, or resume services as and when required.
Solution: An automated Service Delivery Platform
A service delivery platform that is integrated with OpenStack can allow IaaS organizations to define workflows and remove any form of manual intervention from the order fulfillment process. The platform can automatically take the order through several stages as defined in the workflow while provisioning and activating it. Through a user-friendly interface, it can help users define what tasks need to be completed before the system provisions and activates the service. Users can easily configure workflows, which essentially define the flow of operations for order fulfillment as well as configure various types of tasks or subtasks as part of a workflow definition.
Challenge 4: Quote management
For IaaS businesses, managing quoting and contracts can get quite complex, as they constantly need to capture unique customer arrangements as well as specific terms and conditions. When not addressed in time, it can impact customer experience while restricting subscription commitment.
A modern billing platform offers businesses the ability to develop customized quote templates – with their company logo and in their preferred format. They can prepare individualized quotes from the product catalog and email them directly to customer prospects – within minutes. They can automate the quote approval process with DocuSign integration and eliminate all offline flows for receiving approvals. E-approvals means businesses can configure custom business process workflows to deal with quotes and order approvals automatically.
Challenge 5: Revenue tracking
Given how geographically dispersed IaaS customers usually are, each with a different service bundle and pricing model, tracking revenue from these unique contracts can be extremely difficult. In the absence of an enterprise-wide reporting tool, businesses fail to bring all their services and bundles into a single place, making it difficult to get a streamlined view of different payment cycles and terms that have been established.
Solution: Modern AR reporting tool
A robust billing platform comes built with a modern reporting tool that allows for accurate tracking of revenue. This user-friendly tool enables organizations to categorize revenue based on predetermined codes and allows for easy reporting. IaaS businesses can leverage the tool to create unique dashboards and reports to understand usage, monitor customers, and explore opportunities for market expansion. Users can also customize views to reflect data that matters most to their team or department and use this data to make critical business decisions.
The IaaS industry, although a revenue-generating industry, often struggles with many challenges that impact customer experience and loyalty. Scaling dynamic pricing models, enabling flexible rating, provisioning different services with set quotas, managing quotes, and tracking revenue are all complex tasks that need to be dealt with in a careful manner.
OneBill, a modern billing platform with features such as CPQ, Usage Rating Engine, automated Service Delivery Platform, e-approvals, and advanced reporting helps overcome all these challenges with ease while allowing IaaS businesses to drive their business forward through continuous subscription commitment.
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