Originally published on CEOWORLD Magazine.
JK Chelladurai, Founder & CEO of OneBill, interviewed by the CEOWORLD Magazine on how he channels his 32 years of IT experience and 26+ years of experience in building BSS/OSS solutions for the telecommunications industry to transform the consumption economy with OneBill.
CEOWORLD Magazine: What led you to start OneBill? What were the gaps that you saw in the billing space at the time?
JK: I started working for Portal Software back in 1996 which provided an on-premise solution, where customers had to invest millions of dollars to obtain a licence and then spend a few million more dollars to receive the actual solution. Therefore only very large companies had the resources to afford that kind of OSS/BSS solution. This created a significant barrier to other smaller service providers accessing a solution. So, we saw an opportunity to provide a flexible cloud-based, OSS/BSS solution for businesses of all sizes with varying needs.
At the time we launched OneBill, there were other billing solutions out there offering cloud-based platforms, but they were yet to infiltrate industries such as SaaS. Furthermore, these other solutions were focused on the billing needs of those offering purely subscription-based services. However, we were seeing that this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach had limitations for other industries such as Communications, which have many nuances when it comes to billing and revenue management.
Other than the reasons above, we identified three gaps which drove us to create our revenue management solution.
We saw that businesses were moving from traditional subscription-based pricing to consumption-based models. Subscript. Whereas with a consumption-based model, customers are billed based on their usage of the product or service. With the flexibility and transparency of consumption-based billing, customers are more likely to use the products and services which are billed based on their consumption rather than the fixed subscription charges. With this new trend, companies also have the huge advantage of understanding their customers’ usage behavior to come up with better solutions. So, this is why we are seeing a shift in many businesses moving from the simple subscription economy to the consumption-based economy, in order to capture additional returns. However, there is complexity involved in this as you have to keep track of the entitlement. The subscription entitlement used in a given period of time can be minutes, number of pages, or any resource that you’re metering. Therefore it is imperative that you have an advanced billing solution to start charging for additional usage of services once they cross over the entitlement knot.
When the new wave started with an increasing number of companies moving from on-premise to cloud-based solutions, we picked up an interesting insight during this period. We found that when the enterprises and the small-medium sized companies were moving to the cloud, the delivery of these cloud services was very different from how the enterprises were traditionally buying on-premises solutions. In fact, these cloud services were getting delivered through relationships with channel partners, rather than direct-to-customer.
Therefore we were seeing that the channel partners played a very major role in taking the cloud services to the last market. Hence, if we were going to build a cloud based solution, we needed to make sure that the channel partners could directly work with the service providers and the service providers could actually bill-on-behalf-of channel partners, so that they can deliver the actual retail invoice.
The whole concept of wholesale vs. retail played an influential role in architecting OneBill. We kept this whole channel ecosystem in mind and built the entire OSS/BSS solution around the channel partners.
We also saw a lot of existing inefficiencies and manual processes associated with time to market. Time to market is essentially the time between when you capture an order, to when you fulfill it. We found at the time there were a lot of swivel chair operations being conducted in order to fulfill an order from the time it was captured. As a result, that longer time to market results in lost revenue. So we saw an opportunity to automate right from the order capture to order fulfillment phase with ZERO touch.
CEOWORLD Magazine: How OneBill is helping companies & what differentiate it from other players?
- In OneBill, we have this concept of a grant. With the grant, you are able to keep track of what is the entitlement for a given subscription, and then it has the ability to manage the validity of the grants, whether the validity is for day, or weekly, monthly or so. You have all kinds of the flexibility to manage the entitlement with various alerts and notifications, so basically, depending on how much they have used, you will be able to be notified on how much they have consumed.
- With OneBill’s multi channel management, we have created a very flexible platform to manage multiple hierarchies of channel partners. So, the channel partners can be the form of reseller who manages the customer, and they can do branded invoices with our support of Bill-On-Behalf. Or, the channel partner can be an affiliate partner who works with you on commission basis.
- In terms of reducing the operational overhead, we have this Service delivery platform. With the service delivery platform, the moment you capture the order we can actually trigger a workflow in the service delivery platform which orchestrates the order across multiple downstream platforms. The workflow can be very complex with different types of tasks, whether it is an automated task or a manual task or a timer task, or even a callback where we do get the notification from the system when the downstream activities are done. All these things are possible with the SDP.
CEOWORLD Magazine: What do you think about the Industry’s current situation? and where is it headed?
- I think the combination of this subscription fee plus metering of services is the way to go in the future. It is not the pure subscription fee, but you need to go beyond just applying the recurring fees. If you look at, subscription services are being offered by many businesses , (e.g. Stripe, QuickBooks etc.). They all offer a simple recurring fee, nothing beyond that. I think businesses could be losing money or leaving money on the table if they’re not actually keeping track of how much their services are being used, particularly during peak sales periods. So, there’s an opportunity for businesses to monetize their services more effectively if they move beyond just applying the subscription fee.
- I also see this whole industry is moving towards a marketplace model where different cloud service providers come in and offer their products and services and those different cloud services are being delivered to the enterprises through the channel partners. That is one aspect of it.
- And, the other aspect I see is that this entire quote-to-cash lifecycle is being automated through a single platform as opposed to businesses having to procure multiple products and trying to integrate.
That’s why in OneBill, we have 5 different products in our suite, starting from CPQ, billing & revenue management, CRM, service delivery platform, and multi-level channel partner management.
- We provide this entire suite for service providers. So, you can think of this as a business management software that enables them to manage the entire quote-to-cash flow.
- Usually, all these products are available as a la carte products where you need to work with different platforms for different tasks, whereas here in OneBill, all of these products are tightly integrated to automate the entire quote-to-cash process.
- You need to have a tool that business can manage the vendors, manage the partners, manage the resellers, and provide everything in a single platform without having to use multiple tools and make it completely automate the whole quote-to-cash process.
CEOWORLD Magazine: What is your Vision for OneBill?
JK: Revenue leakage is a big issue for many of the service providers because most of them may not know how to monetize some of their offerings in the whole consumption economy, where you need to keep track of what the users are actually using, how much they’re using, and how much they are entitled to use. All these different aspects have to be monitored very closely. Minimizing revenue leakage and maximizing revenue assurance is one of the key aspects that we wanted to ensure as a billing and quote-to-cash system. And, we want to eliminate any manual steps in this whole quote-to-cash process and make sure that businesses don’t lose or they don’t leave the money on the table.