Zuora's New Cloud-based Hub Orchestrates Order-to-Cash Functions

New-generation platform coordinates all financial operations from order to cash for the "subscription economy."

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Cloud-based all-purpose business platform maker Zuora has launched a new hub that centralizes order-to-cash operations and is designed to make its large set of software-as-a-service offerings easier to manage.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company, which invented the term “subscription economy” in seeing the trend toward cloud-based business a few years ago, made the announcement June 6 at its Subscribed user and partner conference in San Francisco.

The company claims that Zuora Central is the only cloud-based software platform that functions as a hub to coordinate all order-to-cash operations for any business.

Zuora Central is an intelligent hub that sits between ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management). Neither of these technologies was designed to handle the operational and financial implications associated with subscription business models, CEO Tien Tzuo told eWEEK.

Orchestrates Six Essential Order-to-Cash Functions

Zuora Central enables any company to manage its complex, recurring and hybrid revenue business models in one dashboard, in real time, Tzuo said. Zuora Central integrates six essential order-to-cash engines that power the real-time updates across Zuora’s product portfolio (Zuora Billing, Zuora RevPro, Zuora Collect, Zuora CPQ, and Zuora Insights), third-party applications and the more than 100 apps in the Zuora Connect Marketplace.

Central orchestrates the following business processes:

  • Subscription Orders Engine, whic hmanages multi-year and multi-subscription changes over the lifecycle of a subscriber and automatically calculates key bookings metrics;
  • Rating Engine, which allows real-time monetization of any customer event such as usage or consumption;
  • Subscription Accounting Engine, which translates revenue and accounts receivable transactions into subledger entries needed to close the books faster;
  • Subscription Metrics Engine, which computes and visualizes key subscription metrics in real-time like Monthly Recurring Revenue, Net Retention, Average Revenue Per Account, Days Sales Outstanding, and Churn Rate in a centralized dashboard;
  • Pricing Engine, which provides a central place to design any type of monetization model which then syncs instantly with other systems, such as CRM, CPQ, and webstores; and
  • Global Payments Engine, which captures multiple, global payment methods across more than 30 gateways to maximize recurring cash collections at scale.

Global companies including Caterpillar, PTC, Ford, GE Digital and Symantec all use Zuora, Tzuo said.

Zuora has expanded its product portfolio and come up with a new architecture for what Tzuo describes as “a post-ERP world.”

“Ten years ago, we saw a tectonic business model shift--one that we now call the subscription economy--and Zuora built the first suite of products to automate the unique billing needs of subscription businesses,” Tzuo said. “Today, we predict that this shift to services will have a massive impact on existing IT infrastructures. In this new digital world, companies require an entirely new order-to-cash architecture to manage massive recurring revenue complexities. That’s why we built Zuora Central as the first platform to orchestrate all critical financial operations, setting a new standard in enterprise software in a post-ERP world.”

The world’s largest companies have the most to gain by launching new digital services. In fact, the latest Zuora Subscription Economy Index found that revenues of subscription-based companies continue to grow eight times faster than that of the S&P 500; and enterprises with over $100M in revenue are growing the fastest--40 percent above the index average (15 percent year-over-year).

Yet in 2016, a Fortune survey found that 72 percent of Fortune 500 companies believe the single greatest challenge limiting their growth was their technology. A majority of these companies emerged more than 30 years ago with applications that served them well at the time but no longer work in this new subscription economy. Stitching together these rigid business applications with custom configurations can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly with legacy financial systems like ERP, Tzou said.

Early ERP adopters, particularly large enterprises in energy, manufacturing and distribution industries, are paying the price of decades of excessive customization. In fact, more than 150,000 companies continue to suffer with legacy systems that were not designed to meet the dynamic needs of modern businesses, Tzou said.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...