We have worked closely with software-as-a-service business owners over the years to develop their product and user experience and so we have a clear idea of how to create a leading SaaS product. Despite SaaS being part of our everyday lives, not everyone is 100% clear on how it works. So, here’s your short guide to exactly what SaaS is all about…
What is SaaS?
Software as a service or SaaS is a subscription-based software licensing and delivery model allowing users to connect via the internet to manage, automate or carry out a specific set of tasks. The underlying infrastructure, hardware and software, are managed by the host company, upgraded and maintained under service agreements. This allows users access to leading software products at a minimal cost.
The first known SaaS business was created by Salesforce in the early 2000s. Since 2015 SaaS products have been a hot trend in digital workplace transformations, growing from an average of 8 providers used per company, per year to a staggering 110 SaaS integrations used in 2021 (according to surveys carried out by Statistica). We believe that working from home and now continued hybrid working environments will only encourage more use of SaaS products in the future.
Read more: SaaS vs PaaS: what’s the difference?
Common SaaS examples
SaaS examples include a mix of B2B and B2C problem-solving products, from web-based email, calendar management, file management, accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), workplace connectivity and many more.
Read more: What makes a good SaaS product?
Open Kitchens, who we had the pleasure of working with, is one of our favourite examples of a SaaS company with a powerful and unique problem-solving application. Working with restaurants during the Covid-19 closures, the team created an opportunity for local businesses to aid the most vulnerable in their community with free meals, by working on a pledge system that was supported by the rest of the community.
This product was a force for good in a time of desperate need, supporting local people and local businesses. As the cost of living crisis deepens, the app is still there providing a gateway for restaurants to connect with communities.
- Access to leading and evolving tech – Building out software is incredibly cost-prohibitive for many businesses, using a SaaS product creates a greater opportunity to develop up-to-date business processes that increase productivity, sales lead conversions and efficiencies.
- Choosing a subscription that works for you – SaaS companies have learnt that their users prefer options in subscriptions to cater to their specific needs. Subscriptions create an opportunity for users to buy in at the level of service they require, at a far less expensive rate than owning and maintaining software outright. Subscription plans can also be upgraded or downgraded from month to month, making financial arrangements easy to manage.
- Seamless Accessibility – Cloud-based software allows users to easily connect wherever they have access to the internet. In some cases, offline activity can be later synced with online data, once an internet connection has been re-established.
- Easy-to-use interfaces – Successful SaaS applications have mastered their user journey to make sure that ease of integration and app use is fueling businesses, making them more efficient.
- Real-time data – Many productivity and business apps allow users access to their data, keeping them on top of all manner of reporting, from cash flow to project timelines.
- File and data storage – Cloud-based SaaS solutions allow users data storage whilst using the app. Some, depending on the app’s remit, allow for file storage too.
- Access to end-users – Some apps create an audience access opportunity for their users. For example, Vinted, the pre-owned fashion marketplace, reported 45 million users in 2021. This is a great enticement for users to sign up full of hope that they will easily be able to sell their old or unused clothes.
- Saves time – Ultimately SaaS has made our lives easier and more efficient in many respects, one of the biggest user benefits has to be time and this is why we are seeing businesses go from using the odd app here and there, to something like an average of 110 SaaS products to run their business activities.
SaaS business challenges
SaaS allows product accessibility to millions of people at once, making it a complicated service to manage and maintain. The two main challenges to any SaaS business are; firstly providing regular new features, updates and bug fixes to keep users engaged and secondly, data management and security.
Is SaaS here to stay?
In a word, yes! SaaS products offer users a wide variety of business and personal options that make users’ daily lives more efficient and convenient. Undoubtedly this will lead to more investment from leading SaaS companies and startups looking to cash in on this growing industry thought to be worth around 208 Billion in 2023.
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