Comparing Usage Data Management Solutions for Enterprises

May 8, 2024

As your subscription-based business grows, efficiently managing usage data becomes crucial for revenue optimization. In this article, we will compare a purpose-built solution like DigitalRoute Usage Engine with iPaaS , ETL , homegrown solutions, and subscription billing software.

Edwin Ryan Poquiz
Reading time: 8 minutes


The management of usage data is a critical aspect of subscription-based businesses, particularly those that rely on usage-based billing models. Enterprises often resort to adapting or customizing tools not purpose-built for the task of managing usage data at an enterprise level. While it may seem like a quick and cost-effective solution, there are potential drawbacks and costs associated with these approaches. In this article, we will go over how the tools compare with a purpose-built solution for usage data management.

Arnon Shimoni – Monetization Product Lead at Storytel – on buying a billing platform or building your own.
(Excerpt from Ep. 24 of the Data for Subscriptions podcast)

DigitalRoute vs. iPaaS

iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) solutions are primarily designed for, as the name suggests, data integration and communication between different systems and applications. They may not provide the level of granularity required for managing usage data at a detailed level, including tracking usage events, capturing timestamps, and calculating usage metrics accurately as a purpose-built solution would offer. 

Aggregation and State Management

When your business model revolves around charging customers based on their usage, accurately aggregating their usage data over time becomes crucial. Usage data often requires complex transformations, such as aggregating data from multiple sources, applying business logic, or enriching data with additional information. Individual usage data records on their own are merely noise and do not provide valuable insights. To effectively aggregate usage data, state management is essential. State management refers to the ability to store and keep track of the current state or status of data elements. 

However, state management is not a capability that most iPaaS solutions possess. They are not specifically built to handle the complex requirements of usage data aggregation and billing. As a result, the lack of state management features in iPaaS solutions poses a significant challenge when it comes to accurately processing and aggregating usage data over time. 

Usage data often flows in rapidly and continuously, and billing systems require aggregated summaries rather than individual data points. Without proper state management, it becomes challenging to ensure the accuracy and efficiency of usage billing processes. Relying on iPaaS tools that lack this capability may result in inaccuracies, missed data, revenue losses, and ultimately customer dissatisfaction. 

DigitalRoute’s Usage Engine, in contrast, is purpose-built to address these challenges. It offers robust state management capabilities, allowing businesses to effortlessly handle and aggregate usage data over time. By effectively managing the state of usage data, Usage Engine enables accurate billing calculations and provides valuable insights into customer usage patterns. This ensures that businesses can accurately charge their customers based on their actual usage, improving revenue optimization and customer satisfaction. 

Transaction Processing

In usage-based billing, the revenue generated directly depends on the usage data collected. Regardless of the source of the usage data, it needs to be processed accurately and efficiently—once and only once. This requirement holds true even when the data originates from sources that are typically considered less reliable, such as text files. 

Many iPaaS tools excel at processing transactions between databases, providing reliable integration and data synchronization. However, when it comes to handling data from sources like text files, web services, or APIs, iPaaS solutions often adopt a “best effort” approach. This approach does not guarantee processing the data from these sources exactly once, which can result in duplicated or missed records. 

DigitalRoute differentiates itself by extending transaction processing beyond databases to include text files, the most common container for usage data. With DigitalRoute Usage Engine, all usage data, regardless of its source, is processed once and only once. This ensures that every usage record is correctly accounted for, eliminating duplicates and preventing revenue leakage


Usage data, being financial data, demands a higher level of scrutiny, traceability, and transparency. However, iPaaS solutions typically do not offer the robust audit trails and logging capabilities required to ensure full auditability of usage records. Without these features, businesses may struggle to demonstrate the accuracy and integrity of their usage billing processes. 

In contrast, DigitalRoute recognizes the financial significance of usage data and has specifically designed the Usage Engine to provide comprehensive auditability. Usage Engine enables transparent and traceable processing of usage records, offering detailed audit trails and logging capabilities. 

DigitalRoute vs. ETL

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools were initially developed to efficiently transfer large volumes of data in bulk scenarios. Adapting them for usage billing purposes can be a challenging and costly endeavor. The structure and functionalities of ETL tools may not align seamlessly with the complex requirements of processing and aggregating usage data for billing purposes. 

When attempting to repurpose ETL tools for usage billing, businesses may encounter several obstacles that can lead to increased costs and inefficiencies. For instance, accommodating the real-time processing needs of usage data, maintaining data integrity, ensuring accurate aggregation, and adapting ETL to present usage trends can strain the capabilities of traditional ETL tools, resulting in customization complexities and high implementation costs. 

With ETL tools, businesses may face challenges in rapidly introducing new service offerings, pricing plans, or billing structures due to the limitations of the tools in handling real-time usage data.  

DigitalRoute’s Usage Engine is purpose-built to handle the complex requirements of usage-based billing scenarios, providing flexible and agile usage data processing capabilities. With DigitalRoute, businesses can easily process real-time usage data, maintain data integrity, and present usage trends in user-friendly dashboards.  

DigitalRoute vs. Homegrown Solutions

Homegrown solutions are often plagued by several challenges that can hinder business agility, scalability, and compliance. These challenges can significantly impact a company’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics and innovate with new business models.  

When relying on homegrown systems, businesses often face the following issues: 

Limited Agility and Iteration Speed: Making changes to homegrown systems often requires additional development work, resulting in limited business agility and the inability to iterate quickly with new business models. This can hinder a company’s ability to adapt to evolving market demands and customer needs.

Inadequate Scalability: As the business grows, homegrown solutions may struggle to cope with increasing data volumes and complexity. Managing revenue-critical usage data for customers with multiple services and agreements against a growing portfolio of services can become challenging and prone to inaccuracies. This could lead to lost revenue and increased billing disputes if not managed effectively.

Compliance and Risk Issues: Homegrown solutions are often built without standardization, increasing the risk of failed data management compliance. This can leave the company vulnerable to regulatory and legal issues, impacting its reputation and financial stability.

Accumulation of Technical Debt: While homegrown solutions might be easier to implement initially, over time, they can lead to an accumulation of technical debt. This burden hampers a company’s ability to adopt new technologies and respond to changing market trends efficiently.

Dependence on Expert Employees: Keeping homegrown systems updated and functional is often reliant on a few select expert employees. Depending on a limited number of individuals to maintain critical systems not only poses a risk to business continuity but also diverts these employees from other valuable projects, potentially hindering business growth and innovation.

John Ayotte – GP SCD Head of Customer Experience at Siemens Energy – on the spin-offs of homegrown solutions.
(Excerpt from Ep. 19 of the Data for Subscriptions podcast)

Companies choose DigitalRoute Usage Engine for several reasons: 

Purpose-built Solution: DigitalRoute Usage Engine is specifically designed to address the unique data challenges associated with usage-based billing. By choosing DigitalRoute, companies can avoid the need to develop and maintain their own custom-built systems, saving time and resources. 

Increased Employee Productivity: With DigitalRoute Usage Engine handling the complexities of usage data processing, employees are freed up to focus on more strategic work that actively creates value for the business. This allows companies to make the most of their human resources and drive innovation. 

Automated Data Processing: DigitalRoute Usage Engine automates the capture, validation, aggregation, and enrichment of usage data. With this automation, companies can efficiently handle any volume of data and deliver clean, accurate records to operational, business, and finance systems in real-time. This helps streamline processes and ensures the availability of reliable data for billing and reporting purposes. 

Data Integrity and Revenue Protection: DigitalRoute Usage Engine includes built-in error correction mechanisms and provides an audit trail for data processing. This ensures that no data, and therefore no revenue, is lost or inaccurately processed. By safeguarding the integrity of usage data, companies can minimize billing disputes and revenue leakage. 

Usage Limit Enforcement: In addition to processing data, DigitalRoute Usage Engine can also send data back to devices and systems. This enables companies to enforce usage limits and notify customers when they approach or exceed their allocated usage limits. This feature helps companies proactively manage customer usage and promote better control over customer billing. 

Complement to Billing Solutions: DigitalRoute Usage Engine serves as an ideal complement to billing solutions. It offers flexibility, scalability, and full auditability, critical features for businesses operating in complex billing environments. By integrating with existing billing systems, DigitalRoute enhances their capabilities and ensures a seamless end-to-end billing process. 

DigitalRoute vs. Subscription Billing Software

Stephan Liozu – Co-Founder & Chief Monetization Officer at Pricing for the Planet – on billing systems and whether they are really as adaptable as they claim to be.
(Excerpt from Ep. 14 of the Data for Subscriptions podcast)

Billing platform vendors typically provide entry-level data processing capabilities, which are not suitable for handling enterprise-level volumes of data. As businesses grow and customer bases expand, the sheer amount of usage data generated can quickly overwhelm these platforms’ processing capabilities. This can lead to delays in data processing, inaccuracies in billing calculations, and overall inefficiencies in billing operations. 

In contrast, DigitalRoute specializes in usage data processing and offers a comprehensive solution for managing enterprise-scale volumes of data. Unlike traditional billing systems, DigitalRoute understands that the complex task of processing usage data requires specialized expertise. This is why many billing vendors choose to partner with DigitalRoute

The typical ingestion API of a billing system is designed to handle individual records, inserted sequentially. However, this one-by-one insertion process is insufficient for managing the immense amounts of usage data prevalent today. The strategy employed by traditional billing systems is ill-equipped to handle the massive influx of usage data that organizations now contend with. 

DigitalRoute excels at aggregating, correlating, and enriching usage data over time, resulting in the creation of a comprehensive “golden record.” This refined data can be seamlessly ingested by billing systems for their operations. Our Usage Engine further optimizes efficiency by pre-aggregating and delivering only the necessary data to the billing system in the required format. 

In addition to facilitating billing operations, DigitalRoute allows businesses to extract the full value of usage data for purposes beyond billing. This includes analytics and product development, enabling organizations to gain meaningful insights and drive innovation throughout their operations. 


For the most complex subscription business environments, DigitalRoute emerges as the top, purpose-built choice for efficient usage data management when compared to iPaaS solutions, ETL tools, homegrown solutions, and subscription billing software. With its specialized features, detailed data tracking, advanced data transformation capabilities, scalability, robust data security, and integrity protocols, DigitalRoute provides a comprehensive solution for enterprises aiming to optimize revenue, enhance customer satisfaction, and achieve operational flexibility. Opting for DigitalRoute empowers companies to unlock the full potential of their usage data, enabling informed decision-making and strategic insights.

Author image

Edwin Ryan Poquiz

Content Marketing Manager @ DigitalRoute

Edwin Ryan is a 360° marketing strategist, content producer, UX designer, and hobbyist. He has produced content for The Wharton School, SFSU, and several startups and non-profit organizations both in the US and in Sweden. 

When he’s not doing his nine-to-five, he’s usually out enjoying every opportunity to unplug from the urban jungle he calls home to go bouldering, bikepacking, kayaking, skiing, hiking, and ice skating, among others. 

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