The Twists and Turns of Innovation: Expanding Beyond Subscriptions

September 16, 2021

By Sri Srinivasan, Chief Product and Engineering Officer, Zuora

Massive technology transformations rarely proceed in a straight line. I should know—I’ve spent the last couple of decades driving these transformations at companies like PeopleSoft, Microsoft and Cisco. And since I joined Zuora 8 months ago, the experiences I’ve had with our customers have only confirmed what I’ve seen throughout my career. Twists and turns along the journeys of subscription businesses are inevitable as companies respond to dynamic markets and demanding customers.

Leading up to Zuora Customer Day, we’ve been listening to the great stories from customers like iRobot, GoPro, New Relic, and Telegraph Media who have told us about their business transformations, and how Zuora has helped them expand their subscription businesses. The feedback we have received has sparked an incredible wave of innovation — what an exciting time to be a Zuora customer. Here’s what we’ve heard recently:

  1. Not every company runs a pure subscription business. Many want to monetize products and one-time offers alongside their subscriptions, but they’ve been forced to manage those offerings separately.
  2. Subscription businesses want more usability. That means subscription management systems need everything from UI, to APIs, to products, to be completely customizable to fit their business needs.  
  3. Closing the books takes way too long. Companies are looking to streamline and simplify end-of-month processes.

The bottom line is that no two subscription businesses are the same, and every business has unique needs. So we’re focused on delivering solutions that are as flexible and customizable as possible. And we recently announced new product capabilities to do just that. 

統合収益化

Historically businesses have been forced to monetize their products and services on different platforms, running subscriptions and products separately through multiple inventory and distribution systems.

With our new Unified Monetization offering, we have expanded Zuora Billing - 請求 capabilities to allow companies to harmonize monetization processes across multiple platforms from quote-to-revenue. Zuora customers now have one unified monetization platform for omnichannel order orchestration, invoicing, payments, revenue automation, and a single source of truth for subscriber data.

This now gives customers the ability to constantly stream order data and signals to inventory and distribution systems, tracking order line items, and also making sure that products and services are getting delivered and billed at the right time.  

Unified Monetization is helping even more companies join and thrive in the Subscription Economy — whether it’s a product company adding subscriptions for the first time, or a subscription native that wants to expand their services with one-time offers.

That means it’s now possible to monetize any combination of recurring subscriptions, one-time product charges, and usage-based services. 

In addition to Unified Monetization, we’ve also announced a number of new enterprise and developer-focused Central Platform advancements to speed up deployment even further, including:

Configurable UI  

We’ve found companies are looking for a modern and consistent UI across all of our applications, and they want to be able to customize their in-app experience to the way they do business. 

The solution? Configurable UI—a highly configurable user interface across Zuora applications, including a homepage dashboard that can trigger automated workflows anywhere in the application.

It’s now possible to pull in analytical data visualizations to monitor active subscriber growth rates or net monthly recurring revenue. The dashboard can also include transactional data like unposted bill runs, payment methods that are expiring, and promotional discounts — without having to navigate through multiple pages.

Java SDK

Zuora customers are calling our APIs an average of 100 million times per day — not many enterprise applications come near that level of scale! And developers have been asking for more usability in our APIs. 

Our new Java SDK streamlines code for faster implementations and reduces the API “chatter.” We’ve eliminated the need to write dozens of lines of code to renew a subscription. With the new Java SDK, it can all be done with just one simple line of code.

As a result, new Zuora implementations can now be deployed 30% faster, reduce coding hours by 80%, and flatten the learning curve with 30% fewer objects, resulting in 10X fewer error codes.

CPQ X

When it comes to quoting, our customers want faster experiences across all sellers. And they want to minimize the number of screens they have to click through and speed up the time it takes to load each page.  

CPQ X brings simplicity and speed back into the quoting experience. This service boosts sales productivity by enabling sellers to design and configure complex ramp deals on a single page with real-time booking metrics to guide their quoting decisions.

With CPQ X, midterm amendments throughout the subscription life cycle are easy. There’s no need to cancel and start a new subscription; transparent changes with accurate pro-rating can happen at any time. Changing a subscription is just that simple

Central Revenue

Now generally available, Central Revenue gives businesses instant access to the power of automated revenue recognition with Zuora Revenue. With Central Revenue, Zuora Billing and Zuora Revenue are now unified by the common Zuora Central Platform, eliminating any need for integrations between our applications. Zuora Central Revenue combines the core functionality of Zuora Revenue to make automated revenue recognition accessible and easy to deploy for any Zuora customer. 

All of these innovations were inspired by direct feedback from our customers, who represent some of the leading global subscription businesses.  Zuora has never been more open, more insightful, and easier to implement than it is today because of the great contributions from these teams. We’re thrilled to finally be able to share all of these great new features with customers around the world, and empower even more companies to succeed in the Subscription Economy.