Recurring customer relationships are key to surviving and thriving in the age of the customer. And Billing technology is key to building recurring customer relationships. How so?

As we heard from one client,

“My billing experience is my top touchpoint. It’s where I make or break my business goals so it’s where I need to advance my strategy.”

You’ll need a combination of agility, automation, and analytics from your billing technology to facilitate not only business model innovation but the management recurring customer relationships. And that’s especially true if you’re adopting a recurring business model like a subscription or one based on usage/consumption.

Billing platforms built from the ground up for recurring business models are delivering on these three critical capabilities. In 2015, we called these solutions “Subscription Billing Platforms”, but that is too limiting a name for what they manage today: they’re helping companies use any number of business models to create recurring customer relationships (not only subscriptions), and billing is, now more than ever, a tool for customer-relationship building.

We’ve spent the last four months putting the nine leading vendors in the space through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments, and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found:

  • Zuora, goTransverse, and Aria Systems lead the pack. Although each has its own merits, these three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation in agility, automation, and analytics to pack a heavy punch for recurring customer and billing management.
  • BillingPlatform, Apttus, SAP Hybris, and Digital River  follow close behind. These vendors have compelling product offerings and come to market with unique value propositions and strategies, relating to best-fit customers, scale, and product architecture.
  • Oracle and Vindicia offer competitive solutions. Each of these vendors has a strong offering, but each comes with noteworthy caveats, including B2B vs B2C strategy, industry focus, and integrations and extensibility, among others.

So which solution is right for you?

Deciding on which vendor to pick largely depends on the complexity of your business model and your existing technology ecosystem. The goal of our Wave research is to help our clients identify the solutions that are available to support the complexities of a business model evolution. We encourage Forrester 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 for further insights. Forrester (via our consulting division) also offers a formalized vendor selection consulting to help clients with their requirement gathering and selection process.