I’ve written previously about the masterful way in which Zuora reinvents it’s core product, repackaging it in new ways to sell to a different vertical industry. Previously Zuora had targeted media companies and cloud providers – this time it’s the turn of telcos to enjoy the polished spin of Zuora founder and CEO Tien Tzuo. Zuora is launching their “Zuora for Communications” product. First a little background on Zuora (much more on them here). Zura has had an excellent year – they’ve enjoyed 400% year-on-year growth and have swelled headcount to over 130 – Zuora is proof of the move towards an economy much more focused on subscription based models.

Which leads us to the telco play. When discussing the offering, Tzuo rightly pointed out that traditional telcos are suffering. Long used to super-normal profits, they’ve seen their traditional voice revenue move over to VoIP and other services, and have been left struggling to find replacements. This trend is compounded by the fact that the pipes the carriers own are filled to bursting with other peoples content – the pipes have been commoditized while the content is where the value lies.

In the face of this, telcos are looking to broaden their focus – witness Verizon’s purchase of Terremark. Telstra’s introduction of the T-Suite – at every turn telcos are looking to new products, new packaging of old products and new partnerships to maintain their position. Telcos however are generally powered by inflexible technology – the billing tools that telcos use haven’t changed much over the past few decades – Tzuo contends that they simply don’t have the flexibility to meet the needs of the modern way of doing business.

Enter Zuora for Comms, an offering that enables telcos to price, quote, and take orders on the front end and manage and monetize subscribers on the back end for. The offering leverages the native integration between Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, ServiceCloud, Customer Portal, and Partner Portal and Zuora’s on-demand subscription commerce and billing platform.

Zuora and salesforce are pitching telcos on the fast, flexible, affordable and scalable solution set that they believe they can offer. This launch sees them partner with salesforce.com to provide an integrated solution to telcos covering;

  • Price and Package Any Communication Service: Easily define new price plan, charge for services any way you want to, and quickly launch new products to market.
  • Manage Customer Interactions Everywhere: Enable sales reps or call centers to price, quote and take orders from the Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, website or mobile devices, as well as, handle service cases and manage renewals.
  • Bill and Invoice Customers in Real-Time: Flexibly manage subscriptions, invoice customers, collect payments, and automate usage, rating and taxation.
  • Make Decisions Based on Subscriber Analytics: Real-time dashboard and reports with subscription metrics such as CMRR, TCV, Renewal Rate, Churn, etc.

Already Zuora is finding success from their Telco offering – recent customers include Tata, Macquarie Telecom and ShoreTel. I have some questions that focus on two areas;

  1. Will the incumbent billing vendors realize they need to be more flexible and introduce a more modular offering?
  2. Will telcos, generally risk averse organizations, be happy using a cloud based product?

Time will tell the answers to both these questions – watch this space. Disclosure – Zuora has been a Diversity Analysis client

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • To do so they will need to create open and standardised platforms that third party organisations can plug their enterprise IT and communications systems into – just as they plug into the telephone and Internet networks today.

    Great article by the way!

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