Subscribed 2018: 10 Years Back and 10 Years Forward

By Erika Malzberg June 8, 2018

The Swag Store is empty, the donuts are all gone, and the Subscribed Showcase has been broken down. In other words, Subscribed 2018 is a wrap!

Day 2 of our annual event closed on a high note, starting with #SubscribeToDiversity, our annual diversity and inclusion breakfast, followed by our Product keynote, complete with a drum line and confetti…because at Zuora we believe in go big or go home!

The afternoon was filled again with sharp insights and practical best practices from a dream team of customers, partners, and ZEOs sharing their knowledge, fielding questions, and helping everyone prepare for the next 10 years of the Subscription Economy. (For highlights from day 1 of Subscribed 2018, click here.)

As Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo noted in the opening keynote, we’ve come a long way since we named and called the Subscription Economy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We leave Subscribed 2018 re-energized and ready to take on what’s next.

Here are just a few pieces of practical guidance for moving forward (and check out day 1 highlights here):

On change management

“Some people are so entrenched in manual processes that it scares them to get away from them. There’s a lot of positive, but also some negatives, with change management.” – Pamela Byrd, Sr. Director, Accounting and IS, Paycor

“A lot of companies we’ve acquired were on legacy billing systems. Getting the data out and changing minds in how we bill has been tricky. Old billing systems just clump billing together. It is great to transition, but it’s a difficult mind-set. They’re used to just billing one account, not having all that visibility.” – Heather Bruzus, Senior Finance System Analyst, MindBody @mindbodyonline

“We had to set baselines for metrics, what are we going to measure, what’s our target and why, and how are we going to calculate it? We set those baselines, communicated, and trained, and trained, and trained some more.” – Heidi Newton, CFO, Zoll Data Systems, Inc @zoll_rescuenet

“A point approach may not work in all cases. In other words, you can’t see it as ‘just a CPU project’ or ‘just ASC 606’ or just ‘middle management project.’ This won’t work. You can’t think ‘let’s do the front first and back later.’ You need to think about it holistically and see how the pieces fit together.” – Nathan Cresswell, Product Director, Zuora

“Don’t start with the Big Bang approach is my lesson learned. Changing everything at once. Start with a targeted market, target area. Don’t ignore your partners. Partners aren’t ready to change as fast as you are, so bringing them along with your journey, helping them along with your transformation is going to be very crucial. These are the two areas we struggled through” – Reena Tiwari, Sr Director of IT, Symantec @retiwari @symantec

“Think about the end to end processes you’re doing, as well as business alignment. Think about what are you trying to solve for and go do that.” – Ksenia Kouchnirenko, Sr. Director Head of Business Systems, SurveyMonkey @SurveyMonkey

“We do 60 20 20 breakdowns – the business, platforms, and architecture changes we make to our product. It’s not the army of people we have, it’s the discipline of planning your releases. You can have two people or an army, if you don’t have discipline then you’ll fail.”- Reena Tiwari – Sr Director of IT, Symantec @retiwari @symantec

On customer acquisition

“Our biggest costs are our sales and marketing costs. It’s expensive to get people into the system. Getting people in the front door is the biggest hurdle, once you have them don’t lose them.” – Mike Aaron, VP and GM Platform, Zuora @mwaaron

“Expand revenue is dramatically cheaper to generate than new logo revenue.” – Josh Bloom, Global, Head of Software, Internet, Media, Simon & Kucher @simonkucher

On the customer journey

“Once a customer gets to your site, it’s up to you to create the right experience for them and get them to what they want to buy.” – Roben Howery, Product Manager, Connect, Zuora

In the ‘New World View,” ongoing relationships are created, and events have overlapping effects. Different time periods must be considered, and multiple actions in multiple subscriptions in a single order becomes possible.” – Nathan Cresswell, Product Director, Zuora @NathCres

“With ecommerce, you need to distill it down to communicate value prop and allow customer to self-select the right subscription plan that’s best for them.” – Dave Frechette, CRO, Gloo @gloo

“There’s a need to collect data in a structured manner. This allows you to evolve as your customers do.” – Nicole Greczyn, Manager Systems Engineering, Gogo Business Aviation @NicoleGreczyn @GogoBizAv

“If you want to keep a customer for life, you’ve got to give them the flexibility.” – Dave Frechette, CRO, Gloo @gloo

“If you’ve made the process of understanding the product too complex, it can paralyze the customer. Making your offerings more targeted for each segment can be a way to unlock the true value of each segment.” – Josh Bloom, Global, Head of Software, Internet, Media, Simon & Kucher @simonkucher

“There’s a growing need for companies to think about churn from early on — before determining pricing and packaging of their product catalog.” – Neej Parikh, Regional VP of Sales, North America, Zuora @NeejParking

“With a subscription…As soon as you take a customer’s money, you’re on the clock to deliver value, and you have to keep delivering value on an ongoing basis.” – Dave Frechette, CRO, Gloo @gloo

On growth

‘In going global, enabling currencies is one of the 9 focuses of internationalization: customers like to transact in their own home currencies. The Zuora product catalog allows you to express list prices in different ISO-supported currencies, and it is important to keep currency conversions in mind to calculate gains, losses, and daily exchange rates.” – Kurt Lu, Senior Sales Engineer, Zuora

“Doing business internationally poses challenges. With currency, you need to consider the effects of fluctuation in highly volatile emerging economies and economic realities unique to each country. It’s useful to use a feature to automatically increase prices with inflation.” – Wilmer Sarmiento, Founder and VP Payment Systems, Open Education

On implementing ASC 606 standards

“We saw a huge leap forward when we brought in a third party. Even though we have amazing in-house resourcing, our ability to make fast forward process once we diversified the team was incredible, especially when it came to our overall requirement definition and many other issues.” – Aaron Burns, Dir. Enterprise Program Management, DocuSign @DocuSign

“In my personal experience, when we really started to walk was when we started producing live data. When you can start playing with your own data, both in volume and usage type, that was the key for us. We were really spinning in place until we started using data familiar to us.” – Serge Blumenfeld, Director of Finance, Willis Towers Watson @SBlumenfield @WTWhr

“The biggest change [in going from 605 to 606] is the perception that people generally think of transactions individually, whereas in the 606 world you need to start thinking of the contract value.” – Muammar Lone, ERP Product Manager, CREDO Mobile @CREDOMobile

“There’s still a lot of learning (our internal teams) have to get through on the reporting side because 606 is such a new world in business readiness work streams. Our revenue team hasn’t lived in the 606 world yet. It’s still an unknown. Our biggest fear is when they start living in this world and we find there’s 15 other reports we need that we didn’t need yesterday. That’s a challenge. How do we find the future reports the business should be looking for that they’re not right now.” – Ankur Sharma, VP of Finance Business Systems, PMO and Controls, PTC @PTC

“Spreadsheets cannot delivers the agility and responsiveness to be successful with the current ASC-606 standards.” – Robert Kugel, Research Director, Ventana Research @rdkugelvr @ventanaresearch

“The new revenue standards have simplified the accounting and complicated the bookkeeping. The new standards are principles-based, requiring consistency, controls and automation. – Robert Kugel, Research Director, Ventana Research @rdkugelvr @ventanaresearch

“My reason for being hired was to help finance be ready as business models were deployed in the organization. I knew I would have challenges, but didn’t know how big or how broad the challenges were, everything from system readiness to deciding how to price our commissions. We are making quick decisive changes as we move forward with our new strategy.” – Terrence Mendez, Chief Accounting Officer, Hitachi Vantara (Hitachi implemented Zuora RevPro for 606 in 4.5 months, going live in May 2018) @HitachiVantara

“We started doing it on our own, thinking we did a thorough job, but where we fell down was in documentation. We didn’t know how to document the way our auditors wanted us to.” – Lynne Rudert, VP, Corp. Controller, Kronos @KronosInc

“ASC 606 has expanded the importance of the role of due diligence on acquisitions.” – Jacob Sperry, Director of Technical Accounting, Connor Group @ConnorGp

“Companies that have adopted are still working on making their compliance solution sustainable for the long-term. There is still a lot of work to do. We are seeing a shift from compliance to optimization. That means greater automation, better info and insights and greater return on investment.” – Peter Schraeder, Partner, PwC @PwC_LLP

On revenue automation

“From DocuSign’s perspective, we have a lot of complexity in the way customers add to their services, modules, whatnot, and from our standpoint, aside from eliminating manual steps, it will be to create clarity less complexity in our reporting going forward.” – Aaron Burns, Dir. Enterprise Program Management, DocuSign @DocuSign

“Going from several ledgers to one ledger is the greatest thing you can have. You can get your answers fast. If you are doing things manually, you can’t get them as fast or as simply.” – Ankur Sharma, VP of Finance Business Systems, PMO and Controls, PTC @PTC

“Revenue automation definitely helped my team to become scalable and now we are ready to grow and ride with our business,” – Alice Zhang, Sr. Director of Revenue, Commission, AR/Credit/Collection, Gigamon @gigamon

“We took an approach where we built a roadmap of our revenue streams. It’s a long list of all the permutations of how we sell our services, what sort of customers we have, what contributes to our revenue streams, then identify the different complexities and volumes, and then we looked at priorities and focused on how we are going to tackle our revenue streams, which ones come later, and which come first.” – Thomas Austin, VP-Global Finance, Dell Technologies @DellTech

On data

“The devil is in the details and those details are your data.” – Gavin Leavay, Director of Risk Assurance, PwC @PwC_LLC

“Don’t underestimate the impact of getting your data into RevPro. If I had a chance to do it all over again, I would’ve done a better job of analyzing where our data is coming from. Being clear up front on where the data is coming from is critical.” – Lynne Rudert, VP, Corp. Controller, Kronos @KronosInc

“We knew at the outset to focus on our data, but until you actually get into it you don’t know what that means. We looked at how we handle products and we didn’t know exactly how our data comes in from the backend. Data elements can come in differently depending on how they bundled in the offerings. As we were testing and running in parallel, we saw things we weren’t expecting and were able to focus a lot of time on data and data cleansing.” – Thomas Austin, VP-Global Finance, Dell Technologies @DellTech

On usage-based billing

“Why adopt a usage model? Usage based billing can easily quantify value. Leveraging usage models can produce less churn, more upsells, faster overall revenue growth.” – Jon Brown, Principal Sales Engineer, Zuora @its_jonbrown

On rev rec

“When creating new product offerings, get into a conversation early about how it’s going to impact your revenue recognition. Understand what’s changing. You need to think about billing, SSP, Ts & Cs in your contracts, how to process data and get it into your systems.” – Roxanne Brady, Partner, Connor Group @ConnorGp

Watch the keynotes on demand. And check out our recap page for press coverage and social highlights.

Hope to see you all at an upcoming Subscribed!