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Blog/ Jun 10, 2024

Why Embracing the Usage Economy is Your Key to Competitive Advantage

The Usage Economy has arrived—and companies that aren’t driving or adapting to the changing business landscape are going to be left in the dust. Usage-based transactions (or usage-based billing), as the name suggests, are centered around customers paying for what they use. If you subscribe to a cell phone plan, consume Amazon Web Services, use an avalanche beacon from Garmin, or pay a utility bill, you’re familiar with usage-based economics.

Usage-based models are preferable for connected devices that gather and transmit data because they offer deep insights into consumer habits. Such models have primarily been used in IoT (Internet of Things), communications, and XaaS (Anything as a Service) technologies, but a multitude of other industries such as transportation and logistics, media and entertainment, and consumer electronics are also starting to explore and implement these models. Heavy equipment manufacturers are already making the shift to usage-based models. Cable companies are dying because they didn’t.

The move to usage-based monetization is intensifying, not only because of consumer demand for these models but because of the finite nature of resources and the need for a more efficient world. Embracing the Usage Economy can help business owners to monetize every aspect of their companies, turn fair-weather clients into lifelong loyalists, and perpetually stay ahead of competitors. The Usage Economy also offers business owners deep insights into their customers’ wants, needs, and habits. Without understanding these usage patterns, your product pricing and service offerings all amount to guesswork. And guesswork isn’t a great way to run a company.


From Ownership to Access: The New Competitive Edge

Business leaders may be focused on grabbing every last dollar they can from their customers, but in the Usage Economy, that kind of thinking can get a company in trouble. It will be the intelligence of the Usage Economy, not the brute force tactics of days gone by, that drives growth, expansion, and retention. Think about the time before Uber. Before Airbnb. Before Netflix. These disruptors came in and ate one industry after another. Uber is one of the world’s largest transportation logistics providers, and it doesn’t own a car. The world’s largest hospitality provider, Airbnb, doesn’t own a brick. It was the unique commercial models and innovative software services of these companies that made them so prolific.

We’ve seen a pivot from ownership to access, and that pivot is for the better. The old-timey notion of selling unused assets and being wasteful is so yesterday. This is a change in the way we think about trade and our relationship with products and consumerism.

Consider our collective supply chains, which have been devastated over the past few years. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a lot of supply was pulled forward, and we’ve since seen declining demand in a number of industries. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, projected 3% global GDP growth in 2023, slowing to 2.7% in 2024. That variability after a long period of sustained growth isn’t easy on a supply chain. Add to that the occasional ship stuck in a canal, wildfire, flood, and bank collapse, as well as a sprinkling of other once-in-a-lifetime events, and you can see the risk and uncertainty in our world. Without trade and supply chains, life as we know it—certainly here in North America—ceases to exist.

Problems and uncertainties seem to be escalating.

As a result of this variability, transportation and logistics providers are accordingly evolving their commercialization models from a flat-fee tonnage-and-distance model to one involving variable costs for electricity and fuel and for features like refrigeration, storage location, special handling, and other factors. You’re not able to do that unless you utilize the tools that can track and calculate those charges.


The X Factor: Your Competitive Advantage

A company’s value exchange represents the thing—the product or service—that customers are purchasing.

The value exchange for Uber is clear-cut. The customer orders a ride, the ride shows up, it takes the customer from point A to point B, and money for the ride is pulled from their account.

Lots of business leaders struggle to recognize their company’s value exchange. They don’t quite understand what it is they’re selling that represents value to their customer. They get stuck thinking about appending a margin to their known costs, which is an approach that is out of touch with the customer’s perception of the product or service.

Value can mean different things to different companies and their viability. It might not reflect margin on costs but rather the outcome of the product delivered. With usage-based pricing, the value derived by the customer can be priced discretely. This could be the number of times a service is used by a customer, a volume metric, or a specific outcome or event. The options are limitless, but companies must understand this value metric and have the technical capability to calculate and charge for it to implement an effective usage-based go-to-market.

In the IoT world, for example, a company could have sensors covering miles and miles of an oil pipeline. The sensors track oil flow, and they typically gather and send standard messages. But when a sensor detects a problem, the impacts could be catastrophic—and receiving that data could avert substantial financial and reputational risk.

Not all data is created equal. Providing sensor notifications when a boiler is overheating is more valuable, and should be charged at a higher rate, than providing an “all is good” notification. Or IoT devices that track trailers in different trailer yards can allow the company to charge differently based on location, where more expensive yards in urban locations are billed at a special rate compared to locations where space is not at the same premium.

There could be different rates based on the value of the data and the payload that’s coming across the network. Or a company could be charged per incident or event where the customer sees particular value or where the “moment of impact” occurs with the customer.

This process is really about introspection into your business—understanding your costs and values so that you can derive the most competitive and effective pricing for your customers. If customers clearly understand the value they’re getting for their dollar, they’ll stick around, be loyal, and provide a greater lifetime value to your business.


Digging Deep on Data: The LogiSense Advantage

We have so much data available today that we didn’t have previously, and it’s at our fingertips. A company can know every interaction that every customer has had with every product and service, at what time it happened, what the duration was, where it occurred, etc. The company could then apply artificial intelligence or machine learning to that data to predict future customer trends. The telemetry generated through customer interactions and use of products and services is the source of a new gold rush. The emergence of large language model AIs into the mainstream through tools like ChatGPT is throwing fuel on this fire—but to have an AI that knows about your business, you need to tune it with your usage data.

Being able to interpret and analyze that data or feed it to an AI or machine learning engine can drive a company’s innovation and ensure product and commercial decisions are rooted in the reality of how customers are actually consuming those offerings. If a company recognizes that every customer who buys product A comes back three months later to buy product B and service C, they can create a bundle of ABC, drive upsells, and get products B and C into the customer’s hands earlier.

But these opportunities will never reveal themselves until you understand what is actually happening mechanically within the business at a granular level.

In one company we worked with, the gap between customer usage and billing was significant. Turns out, the company should have been billing customers 300% more than they had been.

The company had to call a board meeting to discuss how they would approach this situation—the magnitude of delta was that significant. Before implementing a usage-based system, the business was letting two-thirds of its revenue walk out the door, and they had no idea because they couldn’t count it and couldn’t monetize it.


Ostriches and Hawks: Embrace Change or Get Left Behind

Change can be scary, especially if you’ve been doing something a certain way forever. But change is constant. Change is relentless. Change is undefeated.

When confronted with change, companies often take the approach of either the ostrich or the hawk.
The ostrich buries its head in the sand. The hawk, on the other hand, circles overhead and scans for prey and opportunities.

Avoiding challenges and playing it safe in the Usage Economy—operating like the ostrich—can cause your company to go the way of the dodo. Or the dinosaurs. Or Blockbuster.

On the other hand, companies that take the lead in their industry effectively reset the chessboard in their own favor. Their products and services are more transparent to customers and easier to use and upsell. Current customers are less apt to walk away because they don’t feel ripped off, and customers currently with the competition transfer their service, loyalty be damned, because it’s fairer. This is true in both B2B and B2C scenarios.


About the Author

Adam Howatson /

Adam Howatson joined LogiSense as President and Chief Executive Officer in January of 2019, where he also serves as a member of the Board and Board Secretary. Before joining LogiSense, Adam led the go to market and partner functions of Canada’s largest software company, OpenText, as Chief Marketing Officer and SVP.


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