SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Nikita Ivanov, Sean Houghton

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Everything-as-a-Service Demands New Approach to Accounts Receivables

Today’s increasing service complexity is best handled by an integrated complete solution for monetization

When we first built our MetraNet billing platform our customers (large enterprises and service providers) generally offered services that were clearly defined in terms of character and scope, with fairly stable setup charges, usage charges, and periodic recurring charges. Back then, with some exceptions, it was normal to issue regular periodic invoices that consolidated all of those charges. The invoice would then trigger an entry in the service provider's Accounts Receivable (AR) ledger. That in turn, again with a few exceptions, would constitute the point at which Revenue Recognition would take place. The few exceptions (for example, an invoice for a payment in advance for a service set-up charge) would be handled by adding a matching journal entry in Deferred (or unearned) Revenue until such time as the services had been delivered. The adjustment could be handled automatically (triggered by a flag from order management or billing) or manually.

Things have moved on from there and the metadata driven character of MetraNet has enabled MetraNet to support new requirements fluidly and easily. A few years ago, we developed a capability to handle the increasingly more complex requirements of services-related AR. In discussions with customers on AR, it is becoming clear that the additional power and flexibility delivered by our approach to AR will no longer be an exceptional need - it will be an everyday requirement for most service providers.

I have written a lot recently about "Everything as a Service" (XaaS) and the closely linked concept of the "Internet of Things." These labels are helpful in crystallizing in our minds what has been going on for some time. We are observing changes on multiple fronts. Products and devices increasingly become tools for the delivery of services. Services can be delivered by Agents that interact with other Agents to deliver more complex service bundles, or strip out service components to recombine them with other components to create new services. It's conceivable that Cloud Service Brokers will evolve into brokerage networks, collecting and representing services for adaptation and resell in a way that compensates multiple contributors along the value chain. At the same time services providers have to do all this while continuing to operate, and be seen to operate, within the regulatory rules.

Periodic invoices just seem so slow for this kind of environment!

As invoicing becomes more flexible and more complex, the way we handle Accounts Receivables needs to keep up. MetraTech's AR solution (MetraARTM) abstracts accounting securely from the dynamic business modeling of the billing system and enables solid and auditable integration with our customers' accounting systems.

What is special about MetraTech's metadata-driven approach? For one thing, it provides a flexible and pragmatic way around the all-or-nothing choice usually available with traditional systems. The traditional approach forces a choice between Invoice Accounting and Line Item Accounting. Invoice Accounting doesn't provide sufficient granularity when reselling supplier services, selling or re-selling regulated services, or in any case where different parts of the invoice have varying contractual or legal demands for prioritization. On the other hand, Line Item Accounting becomes completely unwieldy and difficult to scale when used on enterprise accounts or for any high-volume, event-based service.

Within MetraAR we have built on our innovative patent-pending "Demand for Payment" (DfP) technology. This enables a service provider to select the most appropriate level of granularity for managing receivables. Rather than being forced into an all-or-nothing choice, a service provider can segment different components of the invoice into separate DfPs without having to go down to the line item detail. For example, perhaps you are reselling cloud services from different vendors. One vendor has a net 30-day contract with you and the other a net 45. You would want to distribute payment against the receivables associated with the Net 30 supplier, but you don't want to track the hundreds or thousands of line items that wound up on your channel partner's wholesale invoice. Instead you can group all the charges into a single Demand for Payment and manage that group as one entity.

It doesn't stop there. Each Demand for Payment can be further split as needed to handle partial payments, payments on account, disputes, and any other events that affect receivables. A single customer payment can be apportioned across multiple DfPs in whatever way is required.

The MetraNet billing platform already provides a complete and flexible system for handling subscriptions to the most complex accounts. With the added MetraAR functionality, we provide even more scope for handling those "exceptional" needs that are rapidly becoming normal everyday business. It is now even easier to set up custom payment plans, reassign and consolidate debt, and manage external debt. The use of DfPs enables Aging to be managed more accurately, with a range of aging algorithms that ensure that priority is given to the right accounts for collection and follow-up.

Our customers realize that today's increasing service complexity is best handled by an integrated complete solution for monetization, rather than a fragmented approach using separate point products. At the same time, the solution needs to work smoothly with financial accounting systems. The latest evolution of MetraNet with MetraAR does all this, and does so in a way that enables the service provider to introduce more complexity only where complexity is really needed, and to keep things simple where simple is the smarter way.

More Stories By Esmeralda Swartz

Esmeralda Swartz is CMO of MetraTech, now part of Ericsson. She has spent 15 years as a marketing, product management, and business development technology executive bringing disruptive technologies and companies to market. Esmeralda is responsible for go-to-market strategy and execution, product marketing, product management, business development and partner programs. Prior to MetraTech, Esmeralda was co-founder, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Lightwolf Technologies, a big data management startup. She was previously co-founder and Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development of Soapstone Networks, a developer of OSS software, now part of Extreme Networks (Nasdaq:EXTR). At Avici Systems (Nasdaq:AVCI), Esmeralda was Vice President of Marketing for the networking pioneer from startup through its successful IPO. Early in her career, she was a Director at IDC, where she led the network consulting practice and worked with startup and leading software and hardware companies, and Wall Street clients on product and market strategies. Esmeralda holds a Bachelor of Science with a concentration in Marketing and International Business from Northeastern University.

You can view her other blogs at www.metratech.com/blog.

Comments (1)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.