The Future of SaaS is here today
Following the success of the big boys such as Adobe, Salesforce and Microsoft offering “must have” services to businesses big and small across multiple sectors we are now witnessing a rise in vertical markets with industry specific SaaS products meeting the needs of individual sectors to ensure that the Software on offer is completely in line with the needs of the client. Led by healthcare and energy sectors, other sectors are catching up fast with financial services, and retail preparing for huge disruption with the continued improvement of virtual reality and machine learning.
With Mobile SaaS products finally freeing up the workforce to get out of the office, more and more cloud based services are available to support key office functions (CRM, Sales, HR, BI) and with legacy software vendors getting involved it is no surprise that the SaaS market is poised to surpass $112.8 billion by 2019 according to IDC research, and that the overall market will reach $164.29 billion by 2022, according to Transparency Market Research (TMR).
The Six Factors Influencing Successful SaaS products
“You don’t need a cruise liner to sail down the Thames”
Scalabilty needs to be thought about right from the very start of your business and functional requirements planning. We don’t believe in building a cruise liner to sail down the Thames. In the early stages you need a nimble speed boat to navigate the channels but which has the capability to grow quickly and be flexible as more clients come online and you understand more about your clients’ functional requirements. However, neither should you get bogged down in analysis paralysis. While it is important to have an idea of where you are going, building a flexible roadmap which allows you to build in an Agile way, means maximum control over your budget and project scope.
“Vive la difference! You might think you see your client when you look in the mirror, but better think twice.”
Early stage SaaS companies tend to view the recruitment of a UI/UX engineer as an expensive luxury. However, lack of investment up front in UI and UX means that many SaaS products fail because the needs of the client have not been fully understood. Make sure you do sufficient UI and UX upfront, use an Agile development process with regular user testing, and include your developers in the on-going user feedback sessions. While usability can be corrected further down the line, it’s more expensive and you already have created disappointment in your target market. Do everything you can to make sure you get it right first time.
“You can never please all of the people all of the time”
While your understanding of the market you are building for is key, it goes without saying that you can never please all of the people all of the time, but you can build a system that is flexible enough to incorporate new functionality as client needs and market conditions change. While it is important to have a clear vision of what you want to build, too much rigidity will stifle your ability to service markets which are constantly moving in our digitally disruptive environment.
4. System Integration
“When X speaks to Y they need to agree who’s calling who”
Ultimately usability will make or break the business success of a SaaS product and usability depends on pretty much seamless integration. Successful integration to client site depends on two key factors: a well considered API solution and a mature enterprise integration architecture and platform. Cloud service integration has issues different to those of on-premise integration projects; timescale is paramount as when people buy a SaaS product, they expect the new software will be up and running quickly – integration has to be available and provisioned quickly alongside a clear process for the coordination of updates. Without successful integration usability will be compromised leading to less take up from end users and a SaaS product that ultimately fails to deliver.
“The bad guys stay ahead of everybody” (Sam Redden, chief security officer at Brazos Higher Education Service)
With a SaaS product more emphasis needs to be on security as with any cloud based service. Improved security has now become one of the top two issues that dominate the to do list of the majority of IT managers. An independent security audit from a respected company who specialise in security and ethical hacking is essential. They have the infrastructure for specialist security testing and also their certificates are recognised by security experts in a similar way to BSI and ISO accreditation.
6. On-going product development and support
“When the rubber hits the road, better keep the nose between the ditches”
The build is done you’ve reached an important milestone, but really the journey is just beginning. Successful on going system integration and support can be challenging as you win new clients and the internal stresses of marketing and technical support can be stretched to their limit, although in business terms it’s a good problem to have as its a sure indicator your SaaS product is in demand. Making sure you have access to the team who envisaged and built your product for ongoing advice and support is essential whether they are supporting your internal development team or are a flexible external resource you can switch on and off as demand dictates.
Find out more about Marrable, SaaS development on our company service page.
*Gartner defines software as a service (SaaS) as software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics. More and more SaaS is being defined as software that is delivered via the cloud though this is usual rather than essential.