Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management.  Enter: subscription billing platforms.

Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.

■  Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.

■  Apttus, Digital River, goTransverse, Recurly, and Vindicia offer competitive options. Each of these vendors has a strong offering, but each comes with noteworthy caveats, including B2B vs B2C strategy, usage-based business model capabilities and financial reporting, among others.

So which solution is right for you?

Deciding on which vendor to pick largely depends on the complexity of your subscription business model and your existing technology ecosystem. The goal of our Wave research is to help our clients identify the solutions in the marketplace available to support the complexities of this significant business model evolution. It is important to remember that this research is intended to be a starting point only. We encourage clients to review the detailed product evaluations in the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool and adapt criteria weightings to fit their individual needs.  Additionally, clients can engage with me directly via inquiry access to gain further insights. Forrester (via our consulting division) also offers a formalized vendor selection consulting to help clients with their requirement gathering and selection process.