The Rise of Usership: Subscribed 2019 Customer Panel

By Erika Malzberg June 4, 2019

Day 1 of Subscribed 2019 closed out with a great panel building on the idea of the rise of usership, featuring Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender; Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor; and Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies; hosted by Ray Wang, Founder of Constellation Research.

With all sides of the house represented — from Finance to IT to digital growth — the conversation yielded some fascinating insights.

Here are just a few highlights:

How Did This Idea of Usership Manifest Itself In Your Business

“The financial industry is going through a ton of change as a result of results and experiences. Consumers want access. They want control.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“Your business should do what you do best and outsource other functions to other experts. Like Zuora with Subscription billing.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“Unity used to be typical perpetual license. Now pricing is transparent and on our website, and customers pay every month. We’re focused on their success, ensuring that our product will work for them.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

“We took a storied, physical product company and my mandate was to make it a services company. People call an electric guitar “‘cheese graters with a cutting board’ — So there’s a high abandonment rate. If we can start addressing that attrition and keeping users engaged longer, we grow the business over time. So we set out to make discrete apps to serve our customers.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

What Does Usership Enable?

“A community has emerged out of our subscription product. And we’ve started to nurture that, the idea of a community and of people pursuing a goal. It’s become a powerful process.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

“This concept of usership and making a product that people opt into continually is the first time that we’ve been able to see how people use our instruments. All the analytics I get from pitch to genre to song choices is the first time in 7 decades that this company has been able to look inside to see how customers are actually using our products.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

“We know it takes an average of 2.5 minutes to tune a guitar. That amount of quantitative data has never been something that we had at our disposal. This has given us interesting insight into the product and its connection with the customer.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

“The younger population — the ones with student debt — needs help right now. But they can’t afford the advisors to give the advice they need. Our platform offers that interactive experience so people can engage when they want to, how they want to. It provides the freedom but also guidance. Though tech and usership, we’re going to enable more individuals to go into this space and help more individuals to fulfill our vision of financial freedom for all.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

The Value of Usership

“When we made the switch it was about delivering incremental value to users. It was a product-driven decision, from the office of the CTO not to leave anyone behind.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

“To make the shift to usership, you have to show what’s in it for everyone. How will transitioning to this model help customers and clients? How will leveraging tech result in better results.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“Getting the whole company rallied around that our platform will help and our goal is to help the end customer. You have to get buy-in to do what you set out to deliver. “ – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

The Mandate of Usership

“Providing a seamless experience is tied into the products AND how you deliver those products.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“The ambition of what we’re trying to do within the IT team is to be an enabler of flexibility within the business. That can sound trite, but it’s true. Your internal technology organization has to be driving this shift.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

“It’s your responsibility as a tech leader to put out fires, but sometimes you also get the opportunity to lead from the front.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

The Benefits of Usership

“Overall our business is growing , our subscriptions are growing, our retention rate is up to about 90%. The behaviors we’re trying to drive are happening.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

“Internally the org is beginning to focus on the customer end to end. Historically we were more siloed. Now we’re rallying around the customer experience, from prospect to customer and beyond. We’re building out the ecosystem to focus on a frictionless experience. That’s a huge cultural shift. With that comes the outcome of driving growth, decreasing churn, but also leveraging the info that you gather from those types of conversations. And that’s where ideas and innovation happen. You can use that data to come up with new products and services. 10 Months into our journey, we’re starting to see churn decrease.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“We’re in the middle of the journey of aligning our systems. The biggest outcome is using it as a forcing function. Look at where we are with our data and be able to ask and answer the right questions.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

Final Thoughts and Lessons Learned

“It’s easy to become so focused on investing in the product that you’re selling to the market that you neglect to pay attention to the infrastructure.” – Megan Murray, Head of Finance at eMoney Advisor

“Start with something small and try to iterate. Find a use case that works really well and expand from there. You have to claim some victories early.” – Brian Hoyt, CIO at Unity Technologies

“We go back to the core of how the company was founded. Leo Fender wasn’t a guitar player; he just listened to guitars, and listened to customers. We take the same fundamental approach to digital. We try to solve the needs of customers and learn from what they tell us. Tell us what you want to do and we try to anticipate what will be the next thing they ask for.” – Ethan Kaplan, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager, Digital at Fender

Learn more about the End of Ownnership and the Rise of Usership.