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Data Analytics6 min read

A guide to subscription business intelligence

Unlock true business potential

Understanding business intelligence in subscription companies

Conventional subscription data analytics is often based on past data as well as the decisions users are likely to make independently. Real business intelligence comes from collecting the right subscription data, compiled into user-centric insights and then used by an automated system to stay ahead of business operations and the market.

It all hinges on 3 key areas

  • The type of data collected to reap business benefits
  • How insights are presented to users of different knowledge levels
  • How actions derived from those insights are automated

In this guide, we dive into the true meaning of business intelligence and what it involves.

The data analytics timeline

The customer journey is continuous and dynamic

In subscription businesses, to gain insights, organizations need to capture data with users in mind to understand the relationship between causes, customer actions and business outcomes. However, more often than not there are root issues at the point of data capture because the technology isn't designed with the user in mind.

If we put business intelligence on a customer journey timeline, it looks a little like this:

checkyThe past
Where we need to collect user-centric events.

checkyThe present
Where we need rule-based automation to react.

checkyThe future
Where you not only need the right events but also the automation capability to interact with the future.

To date, conventional subscription management and billing platforms cannot enable this last point and the first two elements are typically not designed to work together with a user focus. At keylight, we have taken it a step further to enable the past, present and future of subscription business intelligence.

The past

Making sense of the past

Collect the right data events

The goal of collecting past data is to review strategy performance, identify opportunities, and decide what actions to take next.

However, the challenge for most subscription businesses is that events are often collected from multiple vendors, all in different formats. Assuming all teams are fully on-boarded in their understanding of data, they will invariably work on local dashboards and make decisions that lack perspective. Therefore, how and where to compile events becomes the first barrier to obtaining insights.

Example circumstance

Revenue peaked last quarter; however, users such as the RevOps and Finance teams can't easily pinpoint whether this was due to increased sales, numerous large renewals, price increases for enterprise accounts, upgrades, or successful dunning efforts. This lack of transparency leads to challenges in making precise business forecasts.

What you need

arrow4For data
Collect the right raw events and have a well-planned data flow between technology platforms that feature in the customer journey. For this, you need a tech stack designed to capture subscription-related events.

arrow4For insights
Translate data into connected insights and present it in a way that caters to different user groups.

arrow4For actions
Adopt a consolidated platform that not only enables precise forecasting but also allows users to easily orchestrate operational processes to roll out new strategies from one place.

The present

Monitoring the present

Automate decisions with rules

The goal of monitoring the status quo is to see how strategies are being executed and to have the ability to make adjustments quickly if necessary. This goes far beyond payment retries and error handling. It includes a wealth of activities within the customer journey such as upgrades, downgrades, renewals and cancellations—all of which need decisions and actions to be executed in real-time.

The challenge with most platforms is the time delay between gathering the data and executing an action. Catching up with the present is where most subscription platforms struggle. Reaction time to current events is often too slow, relying on manual decisions and affecting multiple business processes down the line, including the customer experience.

Example circumstance

A customer on a bundle subscription plan B+C wants to downgrade to plan A mid-term. This simple user request needs multiple immediate decisions, including determining the end date of the current contract, proration policies, timing the start of billing for plan A, deciding when to turn off or on specific features, evaluating churn risk, and potentially triggering additional retention workflows.

What you need

arrow4For data
A single source of truth where the existing customer information and subscription events are stored.

arrow4For insights
Business users should be presented with data that provides insights, including all automated actions for the customer, along with descriptive details to fully understand the customer profile for well-informed decisions.

arrow4For actions
To minimize the time from data to insights to action, subscription management platforms must be capable of automating decisions and processes with rules that can scale with the business. If decisions are taken manually, the platform should still provide sufficient context and guide users to an appropriate solution.

The future

Interacting with the future

The combined power of data and automation

The goal is to keep the subscription business ahead of time. The continuous nature of customer journeys in subscription businesses make operations in the future as important as past and present events. To retain customers, fortify recurring revenue and grow beyond your existing success, being able to make decisions in the future tense is crucial.

The common challenge in subscription management and billing platforms is the tendency to focus on past data in dashboards. Staying current is challenging without a rule-based approach. Forecasting capabilities often provide only temporary previews limited to billing-related events. Meanwhile, significant insight areas tightly connected to business health are absent or dependent on manual reporting.

Example circumstance

Consider a scenario where there is a 5% price increase on all subscription products, effective with renewals beginning next month. When projecting the impact of this change, it's crucial to account for any special discounts certain customers may have, and that larger accounts may have negotiated terms which delay their renewals. Should the price increases be applied to these accounts before their actual renewal date? Additionally, how should the recent downgrades within the past three months be factored in? These elements are key in shaping the ARR for this and the coming year.

What you need:

arrow4For data
Access to historical and anticipated subscription events is vital, capturing customer interactions and billing activities, such as past product changes, renewals, and billing activities.

arrow4For insights
Ensure users have access to
connected insights to help them make informed plans.

arrow4For actions
Users should have the tools to proactively shape future customer journeys and business outcomes ahead of time—using the same business system with rules, conditions and policies to roll out strategies smoothly and quickly.


Understanding business intelligence in subscription companies and implementing it in its fullest form gives growth-focused organizations a major competitive advantage



A world of new opportunities

The mindset for subscription business intelligence

The future of subscription business intelligence is dynamic, interactional, and accessible for all users.

Its foundation lies in accurately capturing user-centric events to map out the dynamic pathways of an ongoing customer journey. Typically, businesses approach this retrospectively, relying on interpretations subject to biases. By having a business system that reveals what's really happening and creates actions, not only in real time but also ahead of time, a realm of possibilities opens up, unlocking the true potential of your business.