Wednesday, February 08, 2012

To SaaS Or Not To SaaS...

I have mentioned before, how some of the world's biggest companies have fallen over themselves in a vain attempt to be known as SaaS. A classic example of a dysfunctional organisation getting the wrong end of the stick, while arrogantly swimming in their own hype. Blatantly ignoring who and what they are as an organisation, let alone whether it's a viable option for them.  

A well documented phenomenon is the difficulty that traditional software companies experience in migrating their products to the cloud, let alone morphing their entire organisation to SaaS. Social psychologists will tell you that cultural change in even the smallest of organisation is nigh on impossible; let alone when you have thousands of employees and a management team that just don't get it.

The fact of the matter is, you can try to emulate the SaaS model, but if you approach it with the same old, trad software company attitude, you're just gonna fail. Period. Or err full stop!

So maybe some credit is due to those who don't try then. Maybe they truly do get this fundamental issue; understanding that it would be simpler and much less painful to simply set fire to their platform than attempt the excruciatingly painful, cultural shift required to have a chance of success! Maybe!?

Technology Company or Service Organisation? You Decide!

Therefore, it's best to make the conscious decision early on as to whether you want to go down the SaaS road or not. I mean early on. Like, even before a line of code has been written is not too early! Certainly, long before delivery is strongly advised. 

If, 'to SaaS or not to Saas' is the question, then there are many perfectly adequate answers. Changing strategy or trying different tactics, even to pivot entirely are relatively easy undertakings and likely necessary as things evolve, but to change organisational culture is an altogether different animal entirely. SaaS done well, looks easy (that's kind of the point). But, the majority of tech companies aren't SaaS for a good reason!

But decide now before it's too late

During my tenure at SaaS accounting vendor, KashFlow, we were aware of new potential competitors appearing at least once a month and often on a weekly basis. Often the actual cloud software element looked great, however, 99% of the time they would disappear just as quickly! Why? Because they hadn't made that decision. Consequently, their hard work was destined for the black hole of history before they even started. 

Just Add Website

Likely, the talented bedroom developers were totally unaware that they had to make any non-programming decisions. They probably believed that infamous misconception, 'great products sell themselves'. But as KashFlow Chairman, Lord Young liked to put it, "you can have the best bus in the world, but it's useless if nobody gets on it"! 

Your potential customers have got to know that your bus is coming! Having a domain to match your product name is simply not enough on its own. How many more times? You are not Facebook! They got a Hollywood revision because they are the exception, not the rule. Great products do not sell themselves. Your duty is to load the dice as heavily as possible in your favour!

Before breaking things down into the key elements of SaaS, so that you can load the dice, let's cover off some fundamentals to consider before you proceed with changing the world. Next!

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