Telcos and cloud service providers (CSP) are some of the flag-bearers of selling XaaS to enterprises. Selling ‘as-a-service’ offerings under one roof requires setting up, managing and selling from a multi-service product catalog. Enterprises love ‘single window’ purchase touchpoints, meaning, the chances of them buying more from a single vendor are high. XaaS business intelligence can, therefore, be defined as the timely information and insights needed to successfully monetise X-as-a-service offerings on the cloud.
CSPs, therefore, are in essence, the supply side of a multi-service XaaS marketplace, with their enterprise customers acting as the demand side. For the CSP, it is imperative to get a 360-degree view on the state of their business. Furthermore, businesses need to adopt a holistic approach in setting up business drivers and revenue goals.
XaaS business intelligence itself should not be confined to only analytics or insights, as they have been traditionally. Especially in the context of multi-service online selling, businesses need to stay on top of qualitative and quantitative drivers. In other words, BI needs to be encompass workflows, automation, processes, purchase cycles as well as running metrics on sales, revenue and the likes. In this article, we highlight the 5 pillars of business intelligence for cloud service providers.
Whether you’re selling a single service (anything-as-a-service), or a range of services (everything-as-a-service), there needs to be a catalog or a point of sale. In most cases, CSPs offer a variety of services, which can be purely infrastructural (IaaS, BaaS, DRaaS, NaaS, PaaS etc.), or also throw in application services (e.g., Office 365 subscriptions, Magento installations, email service etc.).
In many ways, a multi-service catalog is akin to a shop-front. This also means that basic marketplace dynamics are as relevant here as they are in a typical e-commerce marketplace. For a CSP looking to drive more sales, some points to consider would be:
- What are my customers’ needs? E.g., containerised application images, one-click environment setup, enterprise software, CRM etc.
- How wide and deep are my catalog offerings? E.g., multiple tiers within one offering vs range of offerings.
- What are my catalog variations dependent on? E.g., geographies, account-based catalogs, campaigns etc.
- How easy is it for my customer to buy from my catalog? E.g., enterprise purchase cycles, business process automation etc.
Paying attention to these points while building your own catalog, or to evaluate a catalog offering, will let you keep your customer needs in focus. Also, any insight-driven actions on these points will only add to the customer experience.
Marketing and Sales
Like any online business, your marketing and sales funnels are tightly intertwined. Naturally, your BI platform should let you measure movements and dropoffs within and across funnels.
The availability of numerous marketing automation and sales acceleration tools in the enterprise market has made it extremely easy for reps to drive leads and customers through funnels. However, as a management layer, BI should take into account the following considerations:
- Where are your leads coming from?
- What are your leads coming for?
- What is the complexity of your sales process in terms of length and follow-ups?
- Which leads are dropping off and why?
- What is the efficiency, or conversion rate, for your sales and marketing funnels?
- What are the funnel bottlenecks and what corrective actions should I take?
These questions are no different from a typical SaaS funnel. However, since funnel complexity for CSPs will be generally higher than typical SaaS products, being aware of these points will boost your control on costs associated with marketing and sales.
Most B2B or enterprise marketplaces stop at being store fronts. In other words, once a sale is done, it becomes difficult to track the usage of the purchased item(s), unless you use multiple third party tools. To run a successful subscription business model on the cloud, CSPs should have a firm grip on understanding how their customers utilise their offerings. Understanding resource utilisation is extremely important to create data-driven cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
Utilisation intelligence is also a measure of continuous value delivery to your customers. In terms of technology and product planning, CSPs can send timely prompts and alerts that lets customers engage better with the system. Moreover, this also helps take the load off your customer support teams and create learning cycles within your management portal.
For your internal considerations, points you should look at are:
- Are all purchased and provisioned resources being utilised efficiently?
- If inefficient, does it make sense to downsize or upgrade resources?
- Is my customers’ business growth dependent on resource utilisation? If so, are my earnings proportional to how much my customers are utilising?
As important as metrics like ARR, MRR, churn etc. are in a subscription paradigm, revenue intelligence needs to expand further into account upgrades and expansions. As a CSP with a multi-service catalog offering, opportunities for cross-selling and upselling should be readily available on your BI platform. In other words, XaaS business intelligence needs to capture the post-purchase lifecycle of a customer.
Some key revenue intelligence questions to capture are:
- How are my bookings, targets and quotas stacking up?
- What are my account churns and revenue churns?
- What accounts are expanding and which ones are downgrading?
- How do I make my customers buy more?
- How well can I forecast my revenues for the next visible quarters?
Last but not the least, XaaS business intelligence is incomplete without a picture of how ‘happy’ your customers are. Enterprises rely heavily on reputation and word-of-mouth in choosing service vendors – which means that your existing customers need to turn into advocates for your service.
Customer success and sales/marketing enjoy a cyclic relationship, in that they feed each other. If your customers are happy, they’ll create stronger marketing opportunities. Once converted, you’ll need to keep your customers happy.
In terms of intelligence, CSPs should look at:
- How can I calculate a happiness index or a health score of my customers?
- How much of an impact do I have on a day in my customer’s life?
- What are my contract renewal rates?
- What are my average ratings on business listings?
- How well am I able to resolve customer issues?
- What part of my service are my customers happy about and what are they not happy about?
About IndiQus & XaaS Business Intelligence for CSPs
Analytics and business intelligence is what we believe are the centre-pieces of any software, tool or application. We’ve just boosted our analytics offering as we’re building a multi-service XaaS business intelligence platform, Apiculus, to help CSPs sell more and sell better. With a feature set that covers all the requirements of selling cloud services, Apiculus takes these pillars as guiding principles. We’re already serving managed service providers and telcos across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. If you’re a managed service provider, telco or a CSP of any size, drop us a line.
Also published on Medium.