Cloud computing offers many perks for end customers. Their IT environments suddenly become fully scalable without having to invest in hardware and long running licenses. Resellers profit as they create a steady stream of monthly subscription income, instead of having to complete high risk projects that offer the possibility of failing. But in order to take full advantage of these features, cloud service providers not only have to give clients access to the technology, but also have their own processes in line with the new situation.
So, what is new about the situation?
Back when resellers just sold licenses, they did just that. Every license is a commitment by the client for a longer period of time and did not afford much flexibility. If they wanted to do more, they simply bought additional licenses. In many cases, the billing process was even handled by the vendor simply because any possible discounts depended on what the vendor offered, not on the reseller. Because the licensing model was pretty inflexible, things like purchasing short term services was not very common.
However, cloud computing has affected a huge leap in scalability. No longer do customers have to buy new licenses to expand their IT capabilities. Short term expansions are now available, with subscriptions that can be cancelled on a moment’s notice. Also, the mix of possible services has wildly diversified. No longer is it just a catalogue of individual licenses that clients simply buy. Instead, they are assembling an a-la-carte collection of cloud services that the reseller will have to integrate as well as possible with each other.
More importantly, there are now many ways to price the services, whether it is a pay-as-you-go scheme or pay-per-use. This has wild consequences for any total cost of ownership calculations end customers would like to make. Indeed, cloud providers, from Google to Amazon Web Services to Microsoft Azure differentiate on the pricing of their services.
The consequences for the billing process
This means an increase in complexity on the part of the service provider. Since the IT mix is usually not even consigned to a single cloud environment – clients want the best service available, after all – it is no longer opportune to leave the billing to individual vendors. So, the first feature of any billing system used by resellers is that it is capable of taking a vast array of different services and combine them in a single periodical invoice. That invoice needs to take into account the services the client uses, the payment scheme used, but also any discounts for using multiple services of the same vendor, for example.
The second feature of a successful billing process is that it allows for the flexibility and scalability that end customers are used to. A service needs to be added immediately after it is provisioned and removed when the customer is done using it. The pricing calculations for this can become wildly complex. All the while the client need full visibility about how much the provisioning will cost, as they have no time nor desire to pick up the newest sales flyer every time they need a new IT service fast.
Automation is a must
It is clear you can no longer simply have someone calculate these costs by hand and draft up the invoices. This process needs to be fully – and sophistically – automated. But automation offers more advantages than leveraging the flexibility and scalability of the cloud on the client’s behalf. It allows the cloud reseller to offer discounts that are opportune in building specific relationships, and it generates data for fine tuning the business. It offers a certain structure that will be invaluable in improving the efficiency of the whole business.
We can help
Automated billing can be daunting to implement, but the interworks.cloud platform offers all the capabilities you need to shore up that side of your processes. Don’t hesitate to contact us on how we can assist you in creating the billing and invoicing scheme that will not only improve your service efficiency, but also give your customer the flexibility and ease of mind that allows them to fully profit from what the cloud has to offer.
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