Archive for the ‘SaaS’ Category

Death of the VAR in a SaaS World

August 20, 2008

In general, offline channels have not played a big role in SaaS GTM strategies. The early focus of business and infrastructure SaaS solutions has been on SMBs. SaaS delivery makes it economical to serve SMBs, and online channels make it economical to reach SMBs. As SaaS grows up though (see our earlier post), what role will offline sales channels, in particular VARs, be able to play?

We are very skeptical that VARs will be able to thrive and prosper in their current business model as SaaS adoption continues to gather momentum. The reason is that the TCO model that is promised by SaaS drastically reduces the revenue pool accessible to channel partners. (As we point out in our earlier post, the TCO model still needs to be proven in the long run.) In a June 2007 article, the McKinsey Quarterly compared the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a 200-seat CRM license as on-premise ($2.3m) vs. SaaS ($1.6m). More interesting though than the headline 28% reduction in TCO is the fact that the non-software revenue pool accessible to channel partners shrinks by 90%. Specifically, in this midmarket example, the $1.1m that is spend in the on-premise model for implementation, deployment and ongoing operations shrinks to a meager $106k in the SaaS world.

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When, If Ever, Will SaaS Crack Core, Mission Critical Processes In The Enterprise

July 17, 2008

It’s no secret Software as a Service (SaaS) has generated tremendous excitement among many customers for its apparently transformational adoption model and ownership experience.  Unlike client-server applications, SaaS delivers faster time to value often via a viral buying cycle as well as lower risk deployment.  The early adopter focus has been on small and midsize businesses (SMBs) because SaaS makes it economical to reach them with broad penetration for the first time.  Where SaaS has carved out successes in large enterprises, it has largely been in more independent, non-mission critical departmental functions who have no capex budgets such as HR, CRM, or marketing, not end to end suites.  Despite the undoubted progress that SaaS is making, we believe the adoption of core, mission critical processes (Financials, order management, industry-specific processes such as manufacturing or securities processing) in large enterprises is still many years out for a variety of technical and business challenges.

SMBs have been the early SaaS suite adopters because traditional vendors couldn”t reach them

SMBs have been the low hanging fruit for early SaaS adoption because they’ve historically been underserved by application vendors.  Small deal sizes and bare bones cost of ownership requirements typically were critical stumbling blocks.  The small deal sizes mean vendors have to reach them with a much lower cost channel than direct sales.

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When Applications Talk To Each Other Via SOA, What Happens To User-Based Pricing

June 16, 2008

Alphabet soup of evolving application design patterns: SOA, EDA, BPM

It’s clear that SaaS doesn’t represent a threat to client/server pricing.  Consider what SOA might represent. In case the terminology is new, here are the definitions first. Bear with the abstractions. To be technically correct, we have to include Event-Driven Architecture (EDA) and Business Process Management (BPM) technologies as well for customers to get the full value out of autonomous services communicating with each other with few users involved.

  • In the case of enterprise applications, SOA means functionality in the form of business processes that are made up of services that communicate with each other’s interfaces by exchanging data. These interfaces might be implemented as Web services. The supplier electronically submitting an invoice to a customer is the relevant example here. 
  • EDA allows services in an SOA to be more loosely coupled. They can communicate by publishing and subscribing to events without either side talking directly to the other. A retailer tracking delivery of goods to its distribution center via RFID would be an example here.
  • BPM orchestrates services and includes users in a workflow where necessary to manage a complete process. A BPM agent for a supplier may be managing the order to cash process when a customer places an order that goes beyond their credit limit. The BPM agent may escalate this exception to the finance department as well as the sales account manager for resolution.

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Why SaaS Isn’t The Real Threat To Enterprise Application Pricing

June 16, 2008

Whether subscriptions or perpetual licenses, it’s still about user-based pricing

Imagine for a moment that you are at IBM and a small supplier of components from the Far East has just submitted an invoice. It just shipped an order of printed circuit boards to IBM’s networking equipment division in upstate New York. IBM receives it and a clerk in its invoice processing department enters the invoice into its ERP system. Whether IBM bought a client/server or software-as-a-service (SaaS) ERP system doesn’t matter. The clerk has to fill out and navigate as many as 20 screens to enter the invoice so the purchase to payment process can move to the next step.

But go back to the distinction between client/server and SaaS applications. Conventional wisdom says that SaaS applications such as SalesForce.com and their subscription licenses represent a threat to the perpetual licenses and the business models of traditional client-server companies such as Oracle or SAP. Stretching payments out over multiple years, as SaaS does, makes it harder to show the profitability and growth that comes from the upfront payments of perpetual licenses. The reality is somewhat different. As many know, SaaS actually takes in significantly more revenue over the product’s lifecycle. But the pricing models have much more in common than their differences. They both charge based on the number of users accessing the application.

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