Harnessing data for better business outcomes

By Stephen Hateley
DigitalRoute's Stephen Hateley explains how financial services SaaS companies can harness data for better business outcomes

Financial services companies are continually looking for ways to increase their revenue and maximise growth. However, this can be difficult in an increasingly digital landscape where data is often scattered across multiple systems with varying levels of accuracy.

There is a plethora of data generated by modern businesses in the financial services industry – 70.3bn real-time payments transactions took place in 2020 alone. With thousands of daily investment values and transactions being collected, that need to be analysed, reported on and shared, it can be hard to keep track of just what has been delivered and to whom.

The current issues

However, while providing information of this complexity and scale, financial services SaaS companies must deal with fragmented data of their own. Without gathering and understanding how their own software is being consumed, it’s inherently difficult to accurately bill for the services they have provided a customer, resulting in potential revenue leakage and a downgraded customer experience.

These financial SaaS companies are struggling to manage data about how their services are used.  Not having full control of data or the correct processes in place can lead to performance issues, prevent insights being used to plan and launch new services and stifle the innovation and growth of a SaaS platform.

Driving adoption of this type of software is increasingly linked with tailoring services to the needs of their customers. To offer more dynamic pricing and billing, for example, financial services SaaS solutions need a way to set a variable price based on each individual asset’s unique attributes and summarise the captured data on a customer specific basis. This means each customer’s specific billing terms and conditions can be calculated correctly by the billing system.

Another big issue is the application stack of many SaaS and other businesses. Most have modern CRM and ERP systems, but rely on a legacy billing system, and homegrown integrations to customer systems and data sources. It traditionally takes several days to add new customers to the billing system. For each new contact, the billing team must analyse the service agreement to decide if new integrations, software development or manual processes are required to serve that new customer.

This results in a slow, and ultimately compromised, customer onboarding experience. It also puts pressure on the team to get everything prepared in time for the next billing run. Though this produces generally good results, they are far from being efficient. Companies need integration between enterprise applications and their accounting platforms to avoid any unwanted delays and bottlenecks from the use of various systems.

The solution

Instead, financial services SaaS companies must overcome manual processes and introduce automation into the management of their data.

The first step towards reversing revenue leakage is the collection of transaction system usage data by software. By connecting with all the different systems used by customers – such as online banking platforms or payment gateways – reporting and analysis software has an overview of transactions. This ensures that no information is missed that could contribute to revenue leakage.

Once all data has been collected, usage data management software can normalise it into a single format so that it can be easily read by any system or application. This defines how each piece of data should look and ensure that it is structured in a consistent way throughout the company.

It means financial SaaS companies can integrate all software and data formats, regardless of whether it’s transaction data or complimenting data from the CRM or ERP, which is used to enrich the data with valuable customer information.

The benefits of understanding data usage

Having greater control and understanding of usage data allows businesses to upgrade their legacy ways of working. This includes the high levels of automation in usage data processing and simpler integration across business systems, including billing.

Setting up new customers and monthly billing will be more streamlined, with more accurate billing and less miscalculated invoices to contend with, teams can not only save time but also prevent revenue leakage.

With a more flexible back-end business system, the sales team can quickly offer flexible pricing models that can be easily adjusted for each customer. They can even offer multiple pricing schemes for different entities within one customer.

Going forward, with a more effective system in place, companies can react better to their customers’ requirements. By collecting transaction data and software usage data, SaaS companies have greater visibility of how their platform is being used and therefore how best to bill for the services provided. By using software that automatically processes any type of data about customer usage, companies can easily gather, format, and check customer data so it can be delivered back in valuable reports which are insightful and actionable.

About the author: Stephen Hateley is Head of Product and Partner Marketing at DigitalRoute


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