We're all drowning in data. While it can be invaluable when used effectively, helping you better serve your customers and develop better products and services, if you're struggling to manage spreadsheets that are stuffed full of customer data and have become unwieldy and inefficient, you're in for an unwelcome surprise once you transition to a cloud subscription.
Imagine how your data will be impacted when you go from billing customers annually to a monthly recurring transaction. That's 12 times the invoicing and billing data (at minimum), not to mention more frequent cancelations, upgrades, and downgrades. That's a lot more data, and the majority of the impact will fall on your systems, security, and data management teams.
How are you going to handle that much data?
Create a Technology Plan
A technology plan is a strategic document that can help you plan for your company's future technology and infrastructure needs. By going through the process of creating a technology plan that relates to your goal of transitioning to a recurring transaction cloud subscription model, you can clearly identify how this change will impact your current technology and infrastructure and the ways you will need to adapt to support future technology requirements.
Most technology plans follow a similar structure, which consists of the following sections:
Technology Initiatives. What are the major changes planned for your business and their related goals and rationale?
Schedule. Define the timeframe covered by the technology plan.
Needs Assessment. Identify the current state of your technology and note where there are shortages/surplus, if an existing technology doesn't fit for an intended offering, and if specific systems are in need of updating.
Define Success. Decide in advance what criteria or metrics will measure success as it relates to the technology aspects of your cloud subscription transition.
Systems Integration Requirements. Identify the requirements for interfacing with upstream and downstream systems. These may include self-service, channel partners, billing, or entitlement.
Technology Improvements and Acquisitions Needs List. Based on the planned business changes (#1) and the needs assessment (#3), identify desired solutions along with the benefits each would produce and a cost estimate. For maximum value in the long run, technology solutions should:
Be designed for change. This includes having a flexible API, offering extensive customization, and a broad support system.
Offer scaling functionality. As your business continues to grow and change, your technology solutions should grow along with it.
Easily integrate. Systems with a lot of plug-ins and a proven history of successfully integrating with a wide range of other technologies will work effectively with your other support tools.
Automate Systems as Much as Possible
Once you have the right systems in place, a key strategy for efficiently managing large quantities of recurring transaction data is to automate as much as possible to reduce the burden on your existing teams. I talked about several strategies for automating recurring revenue transactions in this blog post.
The most critical point that needs to be emphasized here is that not only do you have to automate your processes, you cannot run them in a standalone, disconnected fashion. There is simply too much data. The winners in the move to the cloud are not only connecting their systems internally; they are also connecting to their partners' systems.