JK CHELLADURAI, CEO OF ONEBILL SOFTWARE - INTERVIEW WITH TOP 100 INNOVATION CEO
JK CHELLADURAI, CEO OF ONEBILL SOFTWARE HAS BEEN SELECTED BY THE JUDGES OF WORLD BIZ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL AWARDS TO BE A RECIPIENT OF THE TOP 100 CEOS IN INNOVATION AWARD 2021. THIS SELECTION FOLLOWS A STRINGENT PROCESS THAT EVALUATED OVER 40,000 NOMINEES TO SELECT THE EXCLUSIVE LIST OF 100 WINNERS.
JK Chelladurai, CEO of OneBill Software, Inc. is a techie people’s person who loves solving problems! He brings an unbridled passion for both the technology and the company that is truly contagious. Wherever he is in the world, he inspires clients, partners and the OneBill team with his vision and forward looking solutions.
JK has over 32 years of experience in software development including 26+ years of experience in building BSS/OSS solutions for the Telecommunications industry. Prior to establishing OneBill, JK was one of the founding team members of Portal Software (acquired by Oracle in 2006), creating the first real-time billing and revenue management platform for internet and communications service providers. This platform is now popularly known as Oracle BRM.
JK holds BS degree in Computer Science from National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India. Here, JK shares his original vision for the OneBill Platform.
"At OneBill, we like to refer to our platform as being a holistic revenue management solution that enables business-wide interaction. We believe that the billing engine then moves from being purely tactical and reactive, to a more intelligent and insightful mechanism within the business that houses ‘one accurate version of the truth’ when it comes to customer data."
Share with us some of the recent successes under your leadership at OneBill Software.
Over the last 12 months, despite the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, I have been able to lead our team to achieve the following:
25% growth in customers
50% growth in revenue
Establishing several new strategic technical partnerships with other forward-thinking platforms such as Snowflake, SalesForce, NetSuite etc. to integrate with our OneBill platform, in order to provide added business benefits to our customers.
Significantly increasing our product footprint with many key features added in more than 12 product releases over the year
Improving platform scalability by a factor of 10x
Driving innovation in the area of Channel Management and Wholesale marketplace automation and automated service delivery
Most importantly, I am proud to have retained our top talent people and a team of 100 across the organization and ensuring job security during turbulent times. Furthermore, I’ve been excited to hire new talent (50% more strength) to bolster the efforts of both our marketing, support, on-boarding and product development teams.
How is OneBill Software helping businesses to be more successful?
For many years, billing was traditionally seen as a stand-alone function within a business. It would be heavily reliant on ‘swivel chair’ operations with no automated connection with other functions such as Marketing, Sales, Operations, Support, and Finance. This is why at OneBill, we like to refer to our platform as being a holistic revenue management solution that enables business-wide interaction. We believe that the billing engine then moves from being purely tactical and reactive, to a more intelligent and insightful mechanism within the business that houses ‘one accurate version of the truth’ when it comes to customer data. Therefore in order to achieve this, we have dedicated a lot of time to ensuring our platform can integrate seamlessly with other enterprise solutions so that it can live harmoniously within one ecosystem.
To date, OneBill has built 35 integrations with partner platforms across carriers & service providers, payment gateways, accounting & admin, taxation, CRM & ERP platforms via our SOAP and REST open API capabilities. At the end of the day, we believe that we’ve supported our industry by helping customers to see that businesses like us can provide added value and be ‘more than billing’.
"Innovation is at the core of everything we do, and we are constantly listening to our customers’ feedback on how we can enhance usability and functionality of our platform."
How does OneBill embed the importance of innovation throughout the company?
Innovation is at the core of everything we do, and we are constantly listening to our customers’ feedback on how we can enhance usability and functionality of our platform. So much so, that we have setup a dedicated ‘Innovation Center’ in Bangalore India, featuring a team of highly exceptional technical experts.
We also recognize that we are ‘one cog’ in the business ecosystem. Therefore, we believe it’s important to constantly look at how we can better integrate with other Enterprise Systems in order that our platform can cohesively work and interact with these systems across the wider enterprise. This ultimately saves our customers time and money in having manually transfer across data and information. Over the years, we have successfully built integrations with 29 other platforms.
From the perspective of your customers, how does OneBill Software stand out in the market?
I believe the level of customization in our platform is like no other and is what draws customers to our platform. For example, customers can setup, deploy and bill for any pricing strategy they wish to implement in market. This is vital in an age where hyper-personalization in product offerings is a key lever to driving business growth and customer satisfaction.
Furthermore, all of the portals and templates (e.g. invoices) within our system are full customizable.
Furthermore, as per above, we truly value listening to our customers. Our customer success team have setup protocols in place to ensure we are collecting feedback on our platform on a timely basis and building in new requirements into our future product development and innovation roadmap.
What are some of the emerging trends OneBill Software is encountering and how are you responding to them?
When looking across the 14 different industries that OneBill currently works within, one common theme is that our customer’s product and pricing strategy is significantly shifting. In the last decade, we were finding that businesses were heavily focused on subscription-based offers. However, now we are seeing a move to consumption-based products and services, or even a hybrid of both subscription-based and consumption-based. This need has played a significant role in influencing our product innovation roadmap to ensure that our platform can facilitate and make billing easy for businesses who want to implement these strategies in the market.
The other trend we are seeing is that cloud service providers often rely on Channel Partners to take their product and services through a complex network of distributors and resellers for faster market penetration. An intelligent Revenue Management solution should ideally support both the Wholesale as well as Retail marketplace in a single platform, enabling them to settle commissions in real-time, automate the revenue calculation process and provide white-label bill-on-behalf-of capabilities.
How do you maintain high levels of drive and self-motivation as a leader?
I personally thrive on solving problems and looking for solutions to make life easier for our customers. We often have large, multinational companies approach us to help them transform their revenue operations and oftentimes, these companies are made up of smaller businesses that were acquired progressively over a period of time. Furthermore, each business unit comes with new products and services that require different monetization strategies that may not be supported by their existing legacy billing system. Therefore it can be particularly rewarding when you see their businesses’ resource time saved and efficiency levels increased when OneBill brings cohesiveness to their revenue operations.
Furthermore, it is equally rewarding working with new startups and getting more deeply involved in collaborating on their product and pricing strategy and how it can be best executed from a billing perspective. I suppose it reminds me of the early days of when I founded OneBill and the challenging thrill of working through a strategy and giving a business ‘some legs’.
"The industry is going through a major shift in how products and services are monetized. Gone are the days where consumers are willing to pay fixed prices or even fixed monthly subscription prices. In order for businesses to stay competitive in the market, new innovative pricing models are arising."
What are some of the challenges in your industry?
As I mentioned earlier, the industry is going through a major shift in how products and services are monetized. Gone are the days where consumers are willing to pay fixed prices or even fixed monthly subscription prices. In order for businesses to stay competitive in the market, new innovative pricing models are arising. These innovative monetization models range anywhere from pay-as-you-go to fixed-plus-overage pricing, in order to give consumers the maximum flexibility and savings. In my opinion, businesses and service providers should take this industry shift very seriously and reassess their current pricing models and shift gears to take advantage of this transformation.
One of the reasons why businesses are not ready to take this plunge is because of the current limitations they have in their legacy billing systems and processes. OneBill has pioneered techniques and functionalities that put our customers way ahead of the competition when it comes to innovative pricing and market readiness.
Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely caused business to re-evaluate how much asset investment and overheads they really need to effectively operate. Many have shifted permanently to remote working, discontinued office building leases, have consolidated contracts globally and much more. Therefore, in the case of billing which is not always perceived as a ‘value-added’ activity for the business, there is a challenge to ensure your proposition can provide some added value, but at the right cost. In other words, offering an enticing billing and revenue management proposition is not just about helping businesses to ensure that revenue is accurately and efficiently managed, it is also about providing data intelligence, enabling new product and pricing strategies to be quickly implemented, and facilitating teams to work cohesively across regions, functions and partnership networks.
What improvements do you want to see in your industry?
I believe the billing industry has traditionally been highly focused on Telecommunications customers and those that deploy subscription-based services. However, in a world where customers are demanding more flexibility and hyper-personalization, it is important that we as a billing industry can provide our customers with the autonomy to execute this customized products and service strategies.
Therefore, we are the only platform in the market where businesses can configure any combination of product and pricing strategy that they desire (e.g. one-time, variable, usage-based, rules-based or hybrid product & pricing models).
What technologies will be playing a critical role in business in the coming decade?
I can see analytics and data science playing an increasingly important role in transforming the way we do business in this decade. As we all know, data is king and KYC (Knowing Your Customer) is vital to increasing customer satisfaction as well as growing your business. Being an end-to-end revenue management platform, OneBill collects a lot of important information about customers, their usage patterns, credit profile etc. We need to be on the front foot in thinking about how all of this data can be leveraged to deliver a more responsive and personalized experience for customers as well as provide upsell/cross-sell opportunities for the business. Another technology we expect to play a major role in revenue management is BlockChain. Through BlockChain technology, we can ensure the financial integrity of each transaction especially when it impacts multiple entities in a channel ecosystem. Also, this technology can be leveraged to ensure there is no revenue leakage by providing an end-to-end audit trail for the transaction.
What are you excited about next for OneBill Software?
I am personally excited to work with our team to execute on our vision to innovate in Billing and Revenue Management (BRM). There is an opportunity for OneBill to disrupt the BRM space as Salesforce did in the CRM space. We are aggressively innovating and developing features and functionalities to support the industry shift to consumption based pricing models. Also, we want to stay ahead in embracing emerging technologies to give our customers an edge in maximizing their market and margin opportunities.
OneBill Software, Inc.
Building the Future Revenue Management Software. A Silicon Valley company founded in 2009, OneBill now has a global presence in 4 continents and close to 100 best-in-class engineers and business consultants to make billing easier for you. We are growing at a rapid pace to offer an amazing customer experience to our ever-growing clientele. Nothing short of a “wow” is good enough for us.