I recently had the opportunity to sit down with someone who I consider to be one of the more forward-thinking CFO’s you’ll find - Joe Branca with Akoya. Akoya provides a two-sided web-based platform (DAN) that facilitates the flow of data between financial institutions (FI’s) and financial technology (FinTech) companies. Akoya is connected to more than 4,000 financial institutions and makes millions of API calls a day. Needless to say, the complexity of billing for each API call between a FinTech and all of those FI’s can become overwhelming. Add to that multiple pricing tiers that also need to be managed and you have an extremely complex business model that requires a CFO who isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. As I expected, Joe had lots of thoughts on how finance and revenue leaders can set their organization up to succeed in these unpredictable times. Here are a few key takeaways from our conversation:
“Don’t wait until tomorrow to do what you can do today”.
The days of “we can survive with it this way for one more year” are over. The pace of business has changed and the need for business agility and flexibility is more critical than ever. Your customers expect you to be able to quickly and easily adapt to meet their needs and your competitors are working hard to figure out how they can get a leg up. Waiting to move off of that antiquated operational platform, to automate that manual process or to make the shift to a more agile GTM strategy just doesn’t make good business sense anymore. “You’re doing a disservice to your team and your customers if you don’t plan ahead for the growth that you forecast is coming”.
If you have served in a finance or revenue role for any amount of time you likely have lived through the experience of being ill prepared for a significant change in customer demand because the powers that be decided “we’ll worry about that when the time comes”. In addition to being absolutely no fun for those impacted internally, playing catch-up can have a negative effect on your bottom line. Customers don’t appreciate being impacted by poor planning, and won’t hesitate to go to another provider if they think it is in their best interests to do so.
It’s critical that everyone (customer and service provider) is on the same page regarding billing information.
Without the necessary level of transparency, customers may feel like they are being over-billed, billed incorrectly or just generally taken advantage of because they don’t understand how they are being billed. With budgets under constant scrutiny billing transparency is not only critical to customer satisfaction it’s critical to customer retention. If a customer doesn’t understand how they are being billed they may be inclined to find another provider to spend their limited budget dollars with. Make clarity in billing your competitive advantage. I actually wrote a blog post on this very topic a few months ago, which you can read here: Billing is the last mile of customer experience, don't mess it up Ease of integration is a must-have for any monetization solution.
The ability to easily integrate a monetization solution into existing infrastructure with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations is critical. Finance, Sales and Customer Support are just a few of the organizations that need to be able to access billing data, but they want to be able to do it without leaving their day-to-day workflows in their platform of choice (ex: Salesforce). The right monetization platform can and should do this seamlessly and without the need for significant changes on the customers’ side.
AI has the potential to make some of the historical challenges with usage-based models – such as forecasting - much less problematic.
One of the most important responsibilities – and biggest challenges for anyone in finance or revenue is being able to reliably predict future revenue. This is particularly challenging for businesses that have more complex (and thus inherently less predictable) monetization models. This is one of many areas where AI-powered monetization can shine. With its unique ability to not only look at millions of historical transactions but also understand existing deal structures, AI will be able to help you more reliably predict future revenues and make better business decisions.