SaaScon a Milestone for the SaaS Movement
This week’s third annual SaaScon was more than just another conference. It represented an historic breakthrough for the rapidly evolving SaaS industry.
What made the conference so signficant was the nature of the audience, and stature of the keynote speakers and many of the breakout session presenters. While the originators of SaaScon–including myself as an original member of the conference advisory board–always envisioned the event as an important user-oriented conference, we were unable to achieve this objective during the first two SaaScons. We couldn’t find SaaS users willing to talk about their experiences and couldn’t convince IT/business decision-makers to attend the show. As a consequence, SaaScon just became another place for software vendors, VCs and others to talk about the state of SaaS. This year’s conference was a whole different story.
ComputerWorld’s events team deserves a lot of the credit for overcoming these challenges. They tapped their vast reservoir of senior IT executive contacts to pull together an impressive array of keynote speakers and breakout session presenters. With these senior-level speakers in place, ComputerWorld was also able to convince other CIOs and IT managers to attend. In fact, when SaaScon opened its doors on Tuesday morning there were over 900 registrants, approximately three times last year’s attendance.
Getting this many IT decision-makers to attend SaaScon clearly shows they no longer view SaaS as something they can ignore or try to avoid. In fact, each of the speakers, as well as those IT managers who I talked to, said they now view SaaS as a potential solution to many of their IT management needs rather than a threat to their jobs.
They like the pay-as-you-go model at a time of tightening budgets and deepening recession. They like the shorter deployment cycles and lower support requirements. They even like the limitations which SaaS places on customizing applications because they don’t have to support needlessly complex operations when simpler solutions would suffice. Most importantly, they like the greater functionality and added value of many SaaS solutions.
The CIOs who spoke at SaaScon represented a major endorsement of the SaaS concept and the conference attendees proved that IT is getting onboard the SaaS bandwagon. This event confirmed my prediction in December that SaaS solutions aimed at IT departments will help to accelerate the overall growth of the SaaS market.