Vlog: Our Digital Brands SaaS journey

Join us as we explore the world of MVNOs and SaaS, sharing our thought leadership and insights on building a successful SaaS model and pricing strategy.

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Riki Efraim-Lederman, General Manager, ConnectX

Amdocs

03 Jan 2023

Vlog: Our Digital Brands SaaS journey

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"Our Digital Brand SaaS Journey", is a reflection of this belief: We want to use our own journey to help others navigate the ups and downs of building a successful digital brand or MVNO.

We'll be taking you behind the scenes of our journey to grow our business by addressing new segments and markets, and the challenges and triumphs of building a new SaaS product within a telco company that experienced with using the AWS cloud to power up operations.

Watch now and don't forget to share with your friends!

Are you ready for the Digital Brands SaaS Journey?

Where it all starts – The Vision of DBS & SaaS

How does one even arrive at the vision for a Digital Brands SaaS suite?

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    Once upon a time there was a vision of digital brands.

    It’s been more than a year since I, along with my division, started our exciting journey to creating a solution for digital brands.

    We’re now starting to reap the fruits of our great efforts and many people on the team are reflecting on the experience. In the coming few posts I will share what it was like from my perspective.

    This journey is all about how we at @Amdocs, took some amazing technology that was doing great things for communications service providers all over the world – and completely transformed it into a paradigm-shifting SaaS offering, a Digital Brand SaaS suite – a one-stop-shop care, commerce, ordering and monetization solution specifically built for digital brands.

    As you can imagine, going from on-prem to SaaS was a huge change – for the team and for our customers. Change can sometimes be hard. And change management can be just as challenging.

    But with a world-class team, and key best practices, we got it done. And I want to share the good the bad and ugly with you.

    It all starts with the question – how does one even arrive at the vision for a Digital Brand SaaS suite?

    It all started when I re-joined Amdocs. I’ve been in this world of solutions for telecommunications service providers for eons and when I came back it was clear that we need to introduce a different solution and ways of working to better align with telco initiatives around digital brand. 

    Actually, you might even say that I didn’t come across this vision, but that it came to me. Let me explain. Whenever I get started at a new organization, I have a long-standing practice – “one month –100 meetings.” And it always proves to be extremely valuable. Through these meetings, I learn so much. 

    This time around, what I learned is that what was among the most pressing topics on everyone’s minds was, yes – you guessed it – SaaS! The field was crying out for a Digital Brand SaaS suite, and I made it my mission to make it a reality.

    I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew we had many questions to answer – where do we start? Is it even feasible? How can we deliver measurable value? How can we be efficient?

    Sooner than later, we did get to these answers and to making it a reality. The key was great teamwork and firm values that serve as our beacon. This is how we got the job done. And it was one heck of a ride for sure!

    So, stay tuned, more about this fabulous journey to come in my next few posts. Can’t wait to share it all with you. 

    And in the meantime, would love to hear from you – what do you think are the top best practices for successfully introducing a major change to an organization?

    Architecture for both mid and large-sized enterprises

    Defining the building blocks of the offering.

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      We’re at a pivotal point in the story – after knowing what we wanted to do (i.e., create a Digital Brand SaaS suite) and for whom we wanted to do it (for both mid- and large-sized enterprises), it was time to decide on the building blocks of the offering – the architecture.

      We were all excited about the adventure that lay ahead. We were totally confident that we were about to bring an amazing solution. And the first topic that took center stage during our heated ‘how do we get started’ discussions –  was about the architecture.

      Do we stick to the existing one and adjust? Do we start from scratch?

      This was no simple dilemma. The existing architecture had been serving our loyal customers so well for so many for years. How could we just go and do a complete overhaul to make our SaaS vision a reality without bringing a negative impact?

      We started with our existing architecture that already had some SaaS capabilities and we started to adjust it to the new target market and business model. A few months into the journey, we realized that we need to change the strategy. The current architecture cannot scale down and adjust to the new SaaS business we were aiming at.

      So, we started from scratch, creating a cloud-native and highly elastic SaaS offering that’s fully managed by Amdocs on the @AWS cloud, with clear operational SLAs, freeing operators from having to think about IT operations, licenses, infrastructure, backups, etc.

      We knew that to be big you have to do big things. And that’s why we opted for the big (huge!) change.

      Up next, I’ll be talking about the stormy waters of transitioning to a new pricing model. And in the meantime, I would love to hear what you think – when is it right to rearchitect, and when is it better to lift and shift?
       

      Best pricing practice for the SaaS model

      What’s the best way to transition pricing from a license-based to a SaaS-based model?

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        Welcome to installment #4 in my story about the exciting journey we took to a Digital Brand SaaS suite.

        We talked about the inspiration and ideation, about the ‘for who’ and the architecture. And now, as part of the go-to-market leg in our adventure, another important question was – what’s the best way to transition pricing from a license-based to a SaaS-based model?

        When making this move, things need to move around so that we can best address the market need while still protecting the top and bottom lines.

        Quite frankly, the right path did not reveal itself easily. we did a lot of research, read through a lot of professional publications, even “The Ultimate Guide to SaaS Pricing Models Strategies and Psychological Hacks.”

        I gathered up the best minds, and we started to run our analyses to define our competitive positioning and how we want our solution to be perceived by the target market.
         
        So, ultimately the sweet spot for us, between cost efficiency and value-based pricing, turned out to be a subscription, pay-as-you-go model.

        Basically, we wanted to share with our customers the cost savings we would gain from cloudifying our solution. SaaS means savings. And we firmly believe in sharing the love.

        Stay tuned for the next chapter in my tale of ‘SaaSification.’ And in the meantime, what do you think is the top best practice when transitioning from a licensing model to a SaaS-based pricing model?

        The magic starts with the team

        I want to share with you an important insight about the value of empowering and inspiring your team.

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          In my story of our journey to a Digital Brand SaaS suite (over the last few posts), we talked about architecture and pricing – two important pillars in our go to market for the new Digital Brand SaaS suite.

          Now it’s time to get to the values that served as our beacon during this journey. And today, I’ll be focusing on the first value – put the team in the center.

          It’s all about the team. It really is. And in this post, I want to share with you an important insight about the value of empowering and inspiring your team.

          This importance can’t be understated. It’s only when the team feels committed to working together, supporting each other, and having focus – that you can be confident about achieving your goals.

          This is reflected in an interesting practice new recruits undergo during basic training in the Israeli army. Basically, they’re taken in groups of five. One under each leg of a stretcher, and one laying on it. Once you’ve got four soldiers together, aligned, in unison, carrying the fifth – the burden and weight is that much easier for all to carry. 
          This example shows us so well how great teamwork is critical to the success of any endeavor.

          And the great insight I mentioned earlier came to me when I re-joined Amdocs. Our finance director back then, @Itay Antman, recommended to give each member of the team the eye-opening book by Netflix co-founder, Reed Hastings, “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.”

          We all know about the incredible revolution that Netflix has brought to media content consumption. Through its leadership’s controversial ideology and innovative approach to business and people, the company has achieved unprecedented success, driving billions of dollars in earnings, and capturing the imagination of millions of viewers in more than 190 countries.

          Having started out as a DVD movie rental company in 1998, Netflix could not have reached the heights it has without reinventing itself again and again nor without the radical and groundbreaking management principles of Reed Hastings, who rebelled against conservative management traditions and built a new business culture that enabled Netflix to remain dynamic and adapt to the ever-changing needs of customers and the market.

          And specifically, when it comes to teams and teamwork – Hastings's team-centric ideas focus on choices and responsibility, and on putting the independence and the talent of people in the center. 

          Excellence is driven by hiring only the best and expecting them to deliver performance that’s no less than excellent. Innovation is always above efficiency, and employees are expected to give and receive feedback from each other with attentive grace.

          I have taken inspiration from this approach with me every day since. Empowering and inspiring the team is so important, especially when you’re heading up an organization of over 1,000 people. 

          Hire the best, expect the best, and treat them like the best that they are. That’s key.

          Up next, we’ll be talking about value #2: move fast.

          And in the meantime, what do you think? What’s the key to driving teams to empowerment, excellence, and innovation?

          “When you hand good people possibility, they do great things.” ― Biz Ston
           

          Preview: The 5 Values

          The building blocks of a team are shared values.

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            Here at our Digital Brands SaaS, we believe that having a clear vision and core values is crucial for driving business success. In fact, research shows that companies with a strong sense of purpose outperform those without by a whopping 400%. That's why we've established 5 key pillars that guide our actions and decision-making on a daily basis. These values not only help us stay true to our mission, but they also drive our growth and success.

            Join us on this journey as we explore the power of purpose and how it can drive your business forward. Stay tuned for practical tips and insights on how to implement and maintain a strong foundation of values.

            First value: Shift Left

            Cross-disciplinary teams need to collaborate more and better than ever before.

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              Wow. Here we are. At the end of our journey in telling the story of how we came to creating and offering a Digital Brand SaaS suite.

              And in closing, let’s take a look at something that’s not exclusively a value, but which is certainly a strategic principle that guided us on the path to bringing a product to market with operational excellence and zero defects – shift left.

              Shift left is all about cross-disciplinary teams collaborating more and better than ever before, introducing new work practices that are designed to assure software quality, and bringing the product closer to the customer. 

              Shift left practices accompanied us throughout the solution development process, and helped us to focus on quality, from the requirements gathering stage to deployment and steady state operations.

              It also enabled to be better at preventing problems rather than just identifying them, and at drastically reducing project duration, creating a better product design, and driving overall cost savings.

              And ultimately – what we got is operational excellence and a product with zero defects.

              Well, that’s it. My story of the journey to our Digital Brand SaaS suite has come to an end, for now. I am so passionate about this solution and the value it brings that I will have much more to say about it in the future. So don’t forget to stay tuned.

              When we shift our perception, our experience changes. - Lindsay Wagner
               

              Second value: Hands on

              Being proactive in making sure that the business, its goals, and processes benefit your people.

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                Hands-on, sleeves up, practical, and  involved. This is my leadership approach and the fifth value that guided us on our journey to a Digital Brand SaaS suite, and something that I want to talk about today in the ninth installment of this series about our journey.

                So, what do I mean by hands-on leadership? Well, for me, it means not only being proactive in guiding the business and driving the bottom line. It’s also about being proactive in making  sure that the business, its goals, and processes benefit your people. 

                It’s about driving morale, engagement, and commitment, in addition to productivity and overall effectiveness.

                And as much as being hands-on is important, it’s also no less important to know when to be hands-off and to delegate, which hasn’t always been easy for me.

                At a certain point in your management evolution, trusting your teams is essential to assuring everyone’s success (as we discussed in a previous post).

                Too much focus on too many small details can delay and even derail projects. Being involved is good and important. But so is letting go and delegating.

                This is something that was realized by all in our organization very early on, and that’s why we’ve given so much attention, time, and care to assuring that we have culture that’s based on trust.

                In addition, a hands-on leadership culture also means a commitment to transparency and mutual respect. Spending quality time with my employees is something I and my teams all value, as it greatly improves our professional wellbeing as well as the health of the business.

                In my next and final installment, I’ll be taking a shift left. Stay tuned.

                In the meantime, I would love to hear about your experience with hands-on leadership, and how it has affected your business.

                Third value: Freedom & Responsibility

                Expecting responsibility and ownership from your people means that you first have to trust them with freedom.

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                  Welcome back to my story of our journey to a Digital Brand SaaS suite. In today’s discussion I’d like to take a look at value #4, among the six values that guided us along our path – freedom and responsibility.

                  In philosophy and law there is the stance that a person can be held responsible for an action only if they had the freedom to choose to do well, but act differently, making freedom a prerequisite for responsibility.

                  And I believe that this is the same in the business context. That is, expecting responsibility and ownership from your people means that you first have to trust them with freedom. Once they have this freedom they can fairly and appropriately be held accountable for their decisions and actions.

                  I truly believe that it is my duty and the duty of all the managers who work with me, that is – to trust their people with freedom and to empower them to take initiative and act.

                  This trust is the very foundation of any healthy relationship, including that of leader and teams. And this is something I value and prioritize across everything I do as a leader, including our journey to the Digital Brand SaaS suite.

                  Up next, we’re going to take a look at what being a hands-on, sleeves up, practical leaders means and how it served us on our journey.

                  And in the meantime, what do you think is the key to inspiring ownership?

                  Fourth value: Move Fast

                  When it comes to assuring competitiveness, speed is of the essence.

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                    Think fast! Move fast! That’s value #3 in our journey to a Digital Brand SaaS suite, and the focus of today’s post in our series.

                    But, what’s the rush? When it comes to assuring competitiveness, speed is of the essence. Moving fast enables us to build more things and be faster to market with them. 

                    Though sometimes being fast can also be scary. Some assume it’s better to take your time. That more time means higher quality. But that’s not necessarily the case. When you do things right, that is.

                    Some fear that moving fast means mistakes. But even when there are errors or if you build something which in the end you realize is not needed, you can take it off the agenda, and quickly pivot to create what is needed.

                    It’s so important not to let the fear of failure (and error) stop you. Because it’s going to hinder your ability to innovate, and will keep you at a safe (and uncompetitive) distance from being able to bring amazing solutions to life. 

                    Progress should never take a back seat to perfection.

                    And this is exactly what we did with our journey, we moved fast. We went the Agile and DevOps route of short, fast sprints, bringing innovation to life, throwing fear to the wayside.

                    In our next post – we’ll talk about customer success. Stay tuned.

                    In the meantime, I would love to know – what do you think are the other hurdles to innovation? And how do you overcome them?

                    Fifth value: Customer Success

                    Customer success is the key to reducing churn, improving retention and renewals, generating revenue, and driving growth.

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                      Being customer success-driven should always be right at the center of our focus, it’s the key to reducing churn, improving retention and renewals, generating revenue, and driving growth, and it’s also value #3 on our journey to a Digital Brand SaaS suite.

                      This belief has always been a driving force throughout my career, and especially on this specific journey.

                      I’d like to start our discussion with the first pillar of customer success, what lies at the very heart of it – employee success. Customer and employee success go hand in hand. Happy, engaged, motivated employees create and deliver amazing, valuable products.

                      You can’t have happy customers without happy employees. And that’s why we invest so much in making sure that our employees have the inspiration and knowhow to make it happen.

                      The second pillar of customer success is being proactive in eliminating potential issues. You do this by recognizing the needs of customers and always engaging with them, keeping tabs on how things are going, and knowing them and your product so well, that you can recognize and stop issues before they even arise.

                      Pillar #3 of customer success is assigning a dedicated function or team to be completely focused on making your customers shine. And this dedicated customer success team should take not only a proactive approach, but one that is also data-driven.

                      Depending on the team's structure and maturity, it may handle everything from user experience and engagement to innovation. This comprehensive approach helps businesses achieve a number of top-level goals, including:

                      • Increasing sales and renewal revenue
                      • Inspiring customer loyalty and retention
                      • Increasing customer lifetime value and annual recurring revenue (ARR)
                      • Reducing abandonment

                      Another goal of the customer success team is to maximize customers’ control over the product, which increases the likelihood that they will stick around. For subscription-based businesses, this is an essential component in increasing monthly recurring revenue (MRR). And for companies that aren’t subscription-based, the value of customer success is articulated through shared product insights and word-of-mouth marketing.

                      Pillar #4 is establishing clear lines between this function and other customer-facing functions, such as customer support, customer experience, and even account management.

                      As important as it is to talk about what customer success is, it's just as important to be clear about what it isn't. So, let’s take a look.

                      Customer service and support are primarily reactive, meaning these teams respond to the customer or user after a problem has occurred. Customer success is proactive in that the team aims to anticipate needs and issues.

                      Here's an example shared by Ryan English, VP of Customer Success for Unbounce, which demonstrates the difference between customer success and customer support:

                      “A customer can email support about their landing pages and say, 'Hey, I need help implementing a sticky navigation bar. how do I do it?' They will jump in and help them understand the code that needs to be set up. A conversation with the customer success team, on the other hand, might start with: 'Why is this something you think you need? Let's talk about your bigger strategy."

                      Another key difference is the metrics that customer support and customer success use to determine success. Customer support uses metrics such as:

                      • Time for a response
                      • Customer satisfaction
                      • Treatment time
                      • First response decision

                      Customer success teams, on the other hand, typically take a different approach and use metrics such as:

                      • Rate of expansion
                      • Abandonment rate
                      • Average MRR
                      • Customer health

                      While there may be some overlap between the teams, customer service focuses primarily on communications-driven metrics, while customer success works at a relationship or lifecycle level.

                      In the next post, I’ll be discussing value #4 – nurturing freedom and responsibility.

                      And in the meantime, I would love to hear about your secret to driving great customer success.

                      Last but not least: the final episode of the series.

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                        Thank you for joining us on our journey through the world of MVNOs and SaaS, and for sharing in our thoughts on building a successful SaaS model and pricing strategy. We've had a great time exploring new segments and markets, and sharing our experiences with building a new SaaS product within a telco company, as well as using the AWS cloud to power our operations.

                        As our series comes to a close, we hope you've gained valuable insights and practical tips that you can apply to your own business. If you're interested in learning more about Digital Brands and SaaS, we invite you to visit our web page or send us a message. We're always happy to connect and share our knowledge with fellow professionals. Thanks again for joining us, and we hope to see you again soon!
                         

                        Let's talk! A personal note from our GM, Riki

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                          Thank you for joining us on our journey through the world of MVNOs and SaaS. We hope you've gained valuable insights and practical tips that you can apply to your own business. If you're interested in seeing our SaaS model in action and learning more about how Digital Brands can help your business thrive, we invite you to request a demo.

                          Our team is always ready to share our knowledge and experience with fellow professionals, and we would love the opportunity to show you how our platform can drive growth and success for your business.

                          Contact us to request a demo, and one of our team members will be in touch to schedule a convenient time. 

                          We can't wait to show you what we can do!

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