Let’s take a moment to think about how we engage online. Services such as television cable, on-demand Internet streaming media services and online publishers wouldn’t be as successful if they didn’t allow users to engage with their services across platforms, be it an actual TV, laptop or mobile device. Additionally, users are likely to consider paying a little more to receive access for multiple accounts. This is our consumption economy.

The Demand for Consumption

In learning how the enterprise can better provide for their customers, we turned to Curt Raffi, director of product marketing at MetraTech's Metanga, provider of agreements-based billing and compensation software. In January, he wrote about the consumption economy on the Metanga blog. In his article, Mad Men & The Consumption Economy, he writes,

Thanks to the proliferation of the app store mentality, users are accustomed to getting the products and services they need, in the amounts they want, on the devices they use. Making that work requires businesses to look at their offerings on the granular level and monetize accordingly."

The consumption economy isn't limited to online media. We see it among document management tools that let us retrieve and share documents from a variety of platforms. Not only have these types of services become more prevalent, they have been helped by the consumer technologies, which have given affordable access to users to become more productive and engage with their information.

A recent report by Nielsen indicates that Americans spend more than 33 hours per week watching video across screens. In fact, Americans aged 12 to 34 are spending less time in front of TV sets. It’s not that they are watching less, but rather that they are streaming it on computers and phones to a greater degree than their parents or grandparents are.

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To the young user, watching television shows on an iPad is still television, though Nielsen counts computer and mobile streams of shows separately, making it a challenge for the television industry to really understand how habits are changing. It would be to their advantage, of course, to know where, when and how their viewers want to consume their products.

Monetizing the Customer Experience

As consumers, it’s obvious that we want services when we want it and how we want it, especially if we are paying premium prices for them. But from the perspective of the enterprise, such demands have kept many independent software vendors scrambling to make it happen.

In this video, Raffi effectively explains the inevitable migration from a subscription to consumption economy. 

Companies such as Metanga make it possible to build a dynamic billing system that offers enrollment portals, channel partner support and upgrade and downgrade functionality. Whether you’re the New York Stock Exchange, the busiest airport in America or a small- or medium-sized business, being able to provide options is one thing -- being able to manage the functionality, so that it’s easy for customers to click and accounts payable to process, is another.

Ready or Not?

Raffi says that the consumption economy isn't just for the B2C crowd, but that even within the B2B industry, there is a need to simplify interfaces that can support multi tenancy. Of course, at any level it requires businesses to "reimagine the unimaginable" -- an important concept that Raffi highlights. Our consumption economy is not just about traditional currency. It's about being able to accomodate alternate methods of payments and platforms (i.e, tokens, Farmville animals, etc), as well as providing for mobile banking and micro-lending platforms. 

Social technologies continue to evolve regardless of whether the enterprise is ready for them. Integrating agile platforms like Metanga can allow you to grow alongside the consumption economy.