Measuring the Profitability of SaaS
Last month, Bruce Richardson of AMR Research published a provocative commentary entitled, “SaaS and the Elusive Path to Profitability” that heightened the debate regarding the financial viability of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
Bruce’s column elaborated on a presentation he gave at SaaScon 2008 entitled, “Balancing Customer Acquisition Costs and Elusive Profitability.” The talk was driven by a question which Bruce claims to ask numerous software and service companies on a regular basis: “Do you know how much it costs to win a dollar of new business?”
Not surprisingly, Bruce has found that most SaaS companies are losing money acquiring new business in hopes of gaining long-term profitability over the life of the customer relationship. This has always been the logic behind the ‘land and expand’ tactics which are at the heart of almost every SaaS company’s go-to-market strategy.
In order to make his … Read More »
Voice-as-a-Service Takes Shape
I’ve been telling people that the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) movement will not only transform the software industry, but also dramatically impact the telecommunications and networking businesses as well. A recent company announcement which received limited press attention is another indication of the trend I see emerging.
Ribbit – calling itself “Silicon Valley’s first phone company” – announced earlier this week the general availability of Ribbit for Salesforce, the first enterprise application to link mobile voice communications and SaaS business workflow to allow users to configure their own communications services.
Ribbit’s new offering is being characterized as a ‘voice automation’ solution which accelerates the deployment of communications and integrates them with customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities via salesforce.com.
This solution promises to eliminate the complexities of communications deployment and management projects, and improve worker productivity by tying their communications devices into their CRM systems.
Ribbit for … Read More »
Microsoft Playing Catch-Up With Live Mesh
Microsoft is finally recognizing the fundamental ways in which people’s lives and work-styles are changing, and it as a company and its technologies must respond to these changes.
Welcome to the world of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)!
Live Mesh is Microsoft’s attempt to catch up to the Web 2.0 movement which has quickly evolved into an Enterprise 2.0 migration process in which a rapidly growing number of companies of all sizes are shifting their IT strategies from on-premise products to on-demand services.
This trend is being led by Salesforce.com and Google, and being supported by hundreds of other start-ups and established vendors, including Cisco Systems, Dell and EMC.
Salesforce.com and Google’s alliance which produced a new set of integrated services last week is the most recent challenge to Microsoft’s dominance in the workplace.
Cisco Systems has been talking about the melding together of network-centric business processes for … Read More »
Why IT Now Sees SaaS As A Savior
I predicted in December that IT would become more comfortable with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) in 2008, helping to accelerate its growth over the coming months.
Here are some clear indications that my prediction is coming true,
SaaScon: CIOs from many big name companies, as well as smaller organizations, spoke about their positive experiences with SaaS and traded insights about how to take fuller advantage of SaaS to meet their end-user and IT management needs.
SaaS for IT: A growing number of major hardware and software vendors are offering SaaS solutions specifically aimed at the IT department. Although many of these offerings could be sold direct by the vendors as managed service solutions, they are being pushed through the vendors’ channel programs.
Platforms: While the initial platform plays in the SaaS market were aimed at software vendors and developers, the more recent initiatives by Salesforce.com, Bungee … Read More »
OpSource SaaS Summit Takeaways
Last week’s OpSource SaaS Summit was a milestone event for the on-demand services market on a number of levels.
The first SaaS Summit in Silverado in 2006 was a gathering of industry pioneers to discuss the potential of the on-demand movement. Last year’s Summit in Monterey was an opportunity to celebrate the growing success of the SaaS movement. This year’s Summit offered a chance to take stock of what it will take to scale SaaS to meet the needs of the mainstream market. The theme was platforms and web services, but the event also raised other issues.
With over 600 registered attendees, this year’s SaaS Summit was the largest vendor-oriented conference focused entirely on the rapidly growing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market to date. While Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce user conference is still the biggest SaaS event of all, OpSource’s SaaS Summit has represented the benchmark … Read More »
The Complexities of Selling SaaS
As the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market matures, it is becoming obvious to everyone involved in this market that selling SaaS solutions can be a complicated.
First, not every SaaS solution can be sold in a simple point-and-click fashion. Many enterprise applications need to be specifically configured to meet the needs of specific customers. A point-and-click procurement system may still be useful in these situations, but an additional configurator or on-line sales support capability may be necessary.
(Many SaaS vendors are discovering that building a cost-effective billing and procurement engine is also more complicated than they expected.)
Second, selling to many mid- and large-scale enterprises still requires face-to-face interaction. This is why Salesforce.com is aggressively recruiting experienced enterprise software salespeople, many of whom I had the privilege of presenting to in Las Vegas two weeks ago at their 2008 kickoff meeting.
Yet, selling a subscription service … Read More »
SaaS Billing Systems Take Center Stage
Maybe a measure of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) movement’s success is the growing attention billing systems are now getting from a variety of sources.
Last week, Jamcracker unveiled its new WebStores which will provide front- and back-end service delivery infrastructure, billing and settlement, customer administration and support services for traditional channel companies who want to add on-demand applications to their existing software, hardware and service portfolios.
Today, OpSource announced that it has acquired privately-held and Dublin-based LeCayla Technologies, a provider of billing and customer on-boarding software for SaaS and Web-based applications, to strengthen OpSource’s Web application delivery platform. (Click here to read THINKstrategies’ 2006 profile of LeCayla, or listen to my 2007 podcast with LeCayla’s CEO, Conor Halpin.)
These are just the latest moves by a widening array of players who are offering storefront solutions to make it easier for SaaS vendors to sell … Read More »
Salesforce.com rolled out its Force.com Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enablement platform last week after plenty of fanfare at its Dreamforce conference in September. The launch of the platform has sparked a new round of debates regarding the merits of Salesforce.com’s application development toolkit and its service delivery capabilities.
I’ve said many times in this blog and elsewhere, there is no more important or innovative player in the SaaS market than Salesforce.com. Every SaaS user and SaaS provider owes a debt of gratitude to Marc Benioff and Salesforce.com for pioneering the on-demand software services market and setting the standard for enterprise-class SaaS solutions.
While some elements in Salesforce.com’s strategies and solutions can be criticized as self-serving or ineffective, the company’s overall impact on the growth of the SaaS market cannot be denied.
Salesforce.com has set the bar for designing simple yet effective web-based business applications. It … Read More »
SaaScon Becoming Barometer for Broader Industry
In his latest entry on ComputerWorld’s SaaS Revolution blog, Eric Norlin shows how the evolution of SaaScon reflects the maturation process of the broader SaaS marketplace. I think his commentary is right on.
When we launched the conference a year and a half ago, SaaS was still an embryonic market opportunity. Although Salesforce.com had proven its viability as a business, and there was a proliferation of start-ups and established players entering the market, it was still unclear how far the SaaS movement would evolve. It was also a movement of greater interest to the market participants than to potential customers. As a result, a large proportion of the attendees at our first SaaScon event were vendor representatives trying to get a handle on the business opportunity.
Our second SaaScon produced a broader assortment of speakers from a wider variety of vendors, but … Read More »
Sights and Sounds at the SIIA On-Demand Conference
Last week’s second annual SIIA On-Demand Conference was a bellwether for the state of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) industry. Rather than being composed of the usual suspects of SaaS speakers—Salesforce.com, Microsoft, etc.—the event included an interesting mix of prominent players and start-ups who clearly demonstrated that we are well beyond the ‘why SaaS’ stage and deeply into the ‘how’ phase of this important movement.
The event opened with a packed house of over 300 attendees, many with senior executive titles, and a relatively new name to the SaaS market presenting. Donald Proctor, the Senior Vice President of Cisco Systems’ Collaboration Software Group kicked off the event promoting its vision of the next wave of inter-office SaaS solutions based on WebEx’s collaboration platform which Cisco acquired in March 2007.
Although I might suggest that this wave of inter-office SaaS solutions is well underway and … Read More »