The subscription economy and the rise of supplier / customer partnerships
In case you haven’t noticed, we talk a lot in our blogs about “choice”, or “the power of choice”. This is becoming increasingly important since today’s world is a world where the pace of change is fast and customers demand more options for many reasons. Chris’ blog about our first Timemaster mobile app acknowledged the pace of technological change, as consumers and businesses invest less in PCs and rely more and more on smartphones and tablets to remain productive whilst on the road.
When announcing our recent update to Zetadocs Express, Greg Cole talked about the importance of supporting many different technology platforms and ways of archiving financial documents.
But customers’ buying behavior is also changing rapidly, and we’re seeing a huge shift in the consumption of business software applications towards a pay-per-use or Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Again, this was something we felt was important and responded with an announcement to support Exchange Online with Zetafax.
Subscriptions, subscriptions everywhere
How many of us look at a credit card statement and see a recurring fee for a service such as Spotify or Netflix? These are two hugely successful organizations that have grown because of a demand from consumers to rent rather than own CDs and DVDs. There are so many examples now, where suppliers are moving to supply goods repackaged as services: for example, London recently opened its first pay per minute café.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software solutions are no different. Products, such as Microsoft Office, that were once bought or otherwise downloaded can now be consumed for a monthly fee, which is how we've always purchased services such as say – gas, electricity, water.
There are some cynical folk out there who might say that suppliers of new subscription services are betting on high rates of inertia, in other words, customers will be too lazy to cancel their subscriptions. However, I strongly disagree with this. The “old” model of software consumption meant it was the customer who took on most of the risk of achieving a return on investment from their initial capital purchase. Subscription models can help share this risk between suppliers and customers. The upfront costs tend to be lower and the billing cycles shorter and more frequent, meaning suppliers have more “skin in the game”. We have shared responsibility to drive successful adoption and realize business value and we will have to work harder to please customers long after the initial implementation.
So, successful projects that do deliver against supplier promises and customer expectations on the other hand will be achieved in the style of a “partnership”. Ultimately, if that business value isn't realized, in the subscription economy customers can cut their losses and move on. However, the prize for achieving a successful outcome can be very attractive – longevity, trust, profitability and the possibility of further collaborations, again in the style of a partnership.
As a supplier that has worked extensively in partnership with many organizations and as a company that prides ourselves on offering exceptional customer service, we’re excited about, and embracing, this new style of doing business with our customers. Equisys offer our Timemaster and Zetadocs Payables Approvals products as SaaS. Our Zetadocs Delivery and Capture solutions are available as an outright capital purchase or on an annual subscription basis. We’re committed to innovating through technology and customer service excellence on premise and in the cloud, to enable our partners and customers to remain competitive and achieve their business objectives in today’s changing world.