MangoApps is the next generation business software
Software as a Service, or “SaaS” for all us technology acronym folks out there, is the next generation business software but did you know it has been a part of our vocabulary for nearly a decade? According to wikipedia it was first used in a “strategic backgrounder” in 2001 to help analyze emerging trends in software delivery. At the core SaaS integrated delivery of software over the Internet with a subscription payment option. The core value proposition being that with a SaaS solution, there was less up front costs, less ongoing cost, and continuous improvements made over time vs. traditional installed software that took a bunch of time and money to get started and were rarely updated (even though you paid annual maintenance fees)..and even if it was, it usually came at additional significant cost.
Fast forward to today, and the fact that software delivered over the Internet as something you subscribe to rather than purchase all up front, is mainstream. The reality is that soon, the workforce will only know about software delivered this way and will be scratching their heads when the idea of installing software is even raised. Given this evolution and transition that is taking place, it’s time to re-define the SaaS acronym…something that goes beyond “Software as a Service” and the just the delivery model – a better way to think about SaaS.
SaaS redefined…It is next generation business software that is:
Software needs to be simple in order to be SaaS. Technology has provided us with so many opportunities, but if we don’t make it simpler and easier, we are missing the boat. Simple means the solution is intuitive…users know exactly what to do, how to do it, and can do it quickly. Simply taking a traditional app, and putting it in the cloud doesn’t make it SaaS. You need to ensure that it is has simplified processes, procedures and given valuable time back to the user so they can focus on what they need to focus on. Customers like simple!
Affordability of software is another critical component. A next generation business software solution that is only available to a subset of the company because it is cost prohibitive, falls short in many ways. Yes, vendors are in business to make money, but to be SaaS means you have built a solution that doesn’t have the typical high costs of development. As a result, where should that savings go…to your customers. In doing so, a true SaaS solution is priced in a way that the entire organization is able to utilize and fully engage with. Granted, there will be point solutions, but even there a SaaS solution should be priced in a away that anyone that should use it, does..and cost is not a limiting factor.
Accessibility applies in a lot of different ways. Given that we are talking about web applications, you first have to look at the browser. SaaS applications need to be accessible, and fully functional, in many different browsers. It simply isn’t acceptable to only make applications accessible through a single browser, if you do, it will be very difficult to get broad adoption. Outside of the browser, accessibility of next generation business software also extends to various devices and platforms, in particular mobile. Mobile access is a must have for SaaS applications. iPhone, Blackberry and Android need to all be functional. Not be left out of the mix are emerging platforms like tablets and iPad. Accessibility of a SaaS solution on these devices will be more and more critical moving forward.
It might go without saying, but security has to be called out as a must have for any SaaS solution. Security needs to be evaluated at every level, from the physical location where the services is hosted from, to how the data stored in the solution. Does this mean that a SaaS provider needs to do it all themselves, no. Actually, partnering with experts in various areas of security shows that the service provider has given this a great deal of thought and understands that they cant go it alone.
With SaaS redefined, if you want to get SaaS-SY, then consider adding on these two.
Subscription – Something that is often just considered a sales/finance issue, is actually something that needs great visibility and focus throughout the organization that is providing the SaaS solution. You need to understand the fundamental fact that SaaS means you have to earn customers’ business month after month based on how you support, engage and delight them. It is much much more than just billing them monthly, or quarterly. You need to engage with them and ensure that their needs are continuously being met.
YOU – Lastly, a true SaaS solution (or SaaSSY solution) is one that the service provider themselves are willing to invest in and use…that it is strong enough for them to use, just as their customers do. Customers should ask their SaaS vendor, “Do you use your own solution?” If the answer is not Yes, I would question them.
Software as a Service was a great place to start. However, we need to move past that. We need to think about how the next generation business software is so easy in every aspect, it is so affordable that the entire organization has access to it (not just a subset), it is available in the browser, on the platform, with the device of choice, and the security of the system is both robust and flexible. It is when this new definition is put into practice that we will see breakthroughs in business software.