Automated cloud commerce platforms are online cloud marketplaces for selling subscriptions. The individual functionalities portal to portal may vary, but the main purpose of all is to automate consumption-based businesses – e.g. reseller, software vendor businesses, etc.
Why is scaling as Microsoft CSP reseller impossible without an automated SaaS portal?
If you are a CSP reseller and don’t have platform right now, you probably use Microsoft Partner Center to complete your business tasks. You dial in to manage subscriptions, end some, or make changes in existing ones, all according to customer daily needs. Without automation, your work day is eaten up by small, non-profitable and mundane requests. Read further to learn how to make your business case positive with automation.
1. Subscription Management
If a reseller has customers with a small number of seats (between 5-10) and those customers change their subscriptions on a regular basis, there is no way to earn money from those customers when you manually support all changes. But if you have automated subscription management in place, you will be able to grow your subscription business reselling the same cloud applications as before. You will be able to change and adapt easy the subscription demands with a single touch from a centralized cloud portal.
2. Subscription Analysis
Subscription analysis is a mandatory feature of any automated platform. Customers like self-service and transparency, enabling them to review what they are using along with their purchases through a single, client-accessible portal. The reality without a portal is that you simply can’t offer the same user experience if you utilize Microsoft Partner Center.
3. Subscription Provisioning
In the context of SaaS subscriptions, you are expected to be able to offer everything and anything as a service (XaaS). Provisioning is key. If you’re thinking about adopting a cloud platform or marketplace, don’t only focus how it would benefit your CSP reseller business. The industry itself can change in the direction of subscription-based business or consumption-based business. So, your platform should support CSP, but also be able to integrate with other vendor programs so you can bundle and provision other cloud applications. The real value of a platform kicks in when selling more than one vendor’s SaaS application.
Let’s assume that you have yourself an amazing SaaS offering, and your customer asks you to bundle it with the standard Office 365 package. Even though you sell your application and the Office 365 yourself, this simple package requires from you to dial in one vendor portal (yours), then through another one (Microsoft’s) to make it possible. If your client has a new employee, you must do this again. But then, one leaves, and you have to make changes again. The more vendors you support, the more platforms you must dial in. But if you use an automated platform that is integrated with other vendor portals, you can minimize the hustle and provision everything centrally.
4. Subscription Billing
If you sell subscriptions with the preceding changes, your accounting department will have a hard time invoicing clients. If you’re forced to gather data from different vendors’ portals and calculate them manually, the effort will exceed the value you gain from the sell. Therefore, automated and pre-calculated billing and invoicing are some of the most basic features an automated cloud platform should have.
If you are not convinced that your business needs to have a cloud marketplace, Microsoft requires you to have one in place to keep CSP status. Microsoft expects that customers will be able to buy the services provisioned, managed, and billed – all the things an automated platform does.
So, there is no way around the Cloud Commerce Platform.