15 Fantastic Tips for the Anything-as-a-Service Startup
Lately, it seems like as-a-service is everywhere. Saas, Paas, Iaas, ITaas, Xaas: these acronyms have got my head spinning. In this blog, I will first give you an overview of the major as-a-services, describe why as-a-services are great tools for online startups and list the 10 principles of the aaS economy.
In the second part of this blog, I will look at SaaS from the business idea point of view. I will list business opportunities, and give tips on SaaS marketing and customer retention. After reading this blog, I hope that you have an idea of what the as-a-services can do for you as a startup or that you have an idea of how you can add SaaS to your own business plan.
4x major as-a-service: Definitions
TechTarget describes XaaS as a collective term, which stands for a number of things including “X as a service,” “anything as a service” or “everything as a service.” The acronym refers to an increasing number of services that are delivered over the Internet rather than provided locally or on-site. XaaS is the essence of cloud computing. The most common examples of XaaS are Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The combined use of these three is sometimes referred to as the SPI model (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS).
According to Wikipedia (major authority on the subject ;)), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is hosted centrally. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software”. SaaS has become a common delivery model for many business applications, including office and messaging software, payroll processing software, DBMS software, management software, CAD software, development software, gamification, virtualization, accounting, collaboration, customer relationship management (CRM), management information systems (MIS), enterprise resource planning (ERP), invoicing, human resource management (HRM), talent acquisition, content management (CM), antivirus software, and service desk management. One of the biggest selling points for these companies is the potential to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider.
Wikipedia defines Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) as a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage web applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app.
As with all cloud computing services, Interoute says, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides access to computing resource in a virtualized environment across a public connection, usually the internet. In the case of IaaS, the computing resource provided is specifically that of virtualized hardware, in other words, computing infrastructure. The definition includes such offerings as virtual server space, network connections, bandwidth, IP addresses and load balancers. Physically, the pool of hardware resource is pulled from a multitude of servers and networks usually distributed across numerous data centers, all of which the cloud provider is responsible for maintaining. The client, on the other hand, is given access to the virtualized components in order to build their own IT platforms.
How X-as-a-Service helps online startups
Tom Blomfield says that over the last few years, it has become dramatically more simple and capital-efficient to launch and grow Internet businesses. In particular, “X-as-a-Service” providers help startups get off the ground with only a few hundred dollars. As companies become more comfortable using these outsourced services, more specialized and niche services can flourish, and so the process of launching startups becomes faster and cheaper. It has become possible to build billion-dollar companies with a handful of engineers.
Blomfield offers three related factors that may explain this disparity:
- With most online “X-as-a-Services,” you can get up and running straight away.
There is no procurement or long purchasing process; you can simply sign up and go, often without even talking to a human being.
- Robust, well-documented APIs make this sign-up-and-go approach possible.
Implementation consultants and long integration processes are usually a thing of the past. Plugging services together is a matter of minutes or hours, not weeks or months.
- The minimum required volume to use these services is often “one,” with a price point of “free.”
These zero-cost trial periods make sense because the infrastructure to power the API is already built. You can have customization, but only within the boundaries of the existing API.
The 10 key principles providing the foundation of the as-a-Service economy
Horses for Source believes that as the as-a-Service Economy continues to emerge and evolve, the model will follow the following principles:
- Services and technology are available on an as-needed (plug-and-play) and/or subscription-based model.
- Further automation changes the focus of services staff from cost take-out to value-add.
- End-to-end process delivery becomes standard.
- Analytics capabilities can be more readily tapped.
- Services become fungible.
- Specialization trumps scale.
- Operations talents become “Brokers of Capability”.
- Incumbency is not a right.
- The past will stay in the past as legacy technology investments are written off.
- The “Born in the Cloud” businesses will have an advantage over the legacy enterprises.
In the remainder of this blog, I will focus on SaaS startups.
8 tips for creating SaaS business opportunities
TechTarget offers tips for creating SaaS business opportunities, which comes in handy when you are a SaaS startup. This is just a small overview. For more in-depth information, please click on the name, as they list a more elaborate article per tip.
SaaS market gives rise to new software-sales decision maker
As the market for SaaS continues to progress, end users have turned into decision makers. Use this tip to find out what changes you need to implement in order to make your SaaS services appealing to end users. This approach includes trying to lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and learning how to deal with vendors that have based their go-to-market strategies on circumventing the IT department.
SaaS providers need to change their thinking
The focus of solutions providers is shifting more towards helping customers use the applications effectively while meeting their needs rather than just making sure they work.
Stay competitive with SaaS BI services
Your role as a solutions provider has changed since the implementation of SaaS in the market. Still, you will learn that having on-demand business intelligence (BI) services can be appealing to companies.
Address the SaaS concerns IT decision makers have
Are you dealing with IT departments that are resistant to SaaS and wonder about its reliability and security? You need to be prepared to answer questions customers have about the day-to-day concerns about SaaS.
SaaS vs. desktop virtualization solutions
When customers are trying to choose between SaaS and desktop virtualization, they will often look to you for advice. Once you are informed about the benefits of each, you will be more prepared to help customers decide whether SaaS or desktop virtualization meets their needs.
Selling SaaS can be profitable
Selling Software-as-a-Service can be extremely profitable. You need to be able to explain to customers how SaaS is applicable to their business requirements. Find out what you need to focus on when selling SaaS and why the subscription model gives SaaS revenue good growth potential.
Name the key selling points for SaaS
SaaS has a variety of low-cost options. Look at the best practices and components of SaaS that can be used as key selling points.
SaaS migration spurs VARs to rethink services and support models
The impact of the SaaS market has left both vendors and resellers rethinking the services they offer customers.
As you can see, there are plenty of factors in favor of SaaS startups. In the next part, you can read tips on how to improve your marketing as a SaaS startup.
4 Tips for effective SaaS Marketing
If you have a SaaS startup, Walker Sands Communications can give you tips for effective marketing: “A variety of tactics and strategies can be used effectively in SaaS marketing campaigns. In general, there are a handful of concepts you need to consider in all SaaS marketing campaigns.” These include:
Establish clear goals
It is important to clarify the goals you hope to achieve through your Software-as-a-Service marketing efforts. Recent research from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland shows that the most important performance indicator in Software-as-a-Service marketing is customer acquisition cost. Understand what you want to achieve and how much it will cost to get there. This way, you can improve the performance and outcomes of your marketing campaigns.
Leverage cloud technology trends
It is important to leverage trends in cloud technology when you create Software as a Service marketing and SaaS PR campaigns. Capture the attention of reporters and key audiences. YOu will do so by connecting your solution to larger stories in the cloud technology sector.
Use customers and third-party messaging
SaaS technology customers would rather hear from existing customers and third-party analysts than from your company’s executives or marketing professionals. Enlist the support of true third-party experts and leverage customer testimonials and case studies. This way, you can increase the value of the marketing messages you distribute to key audiences.
Analytics are a driving force in first-rate SaaS marketing campaigns. By tracking campaigns performance, you gain the ability to make nuanced adjustments to marketing strategies based on actual performance. This significantly improves the impact of your SaaS marketing investments over the long-term.
3 Tips for retaining your SaaS customers
You have worked hard to get your customers and naturally, you want them to stay. Guy Nirpaz lists tips for retaining your SaaS customers:
Measure customer engagement
Customers getting value from your service are generally happy and do not leave. Conversely, those who are not using your service as often are much more likely to cancel their subscriptions. This is why it is important to measure an engagement score for each customer and to monitor it regularly. Every SaaS business should construct a monitoring system scoring customers using three main items: activity time, visit frequency, and core action.
Identify risk stages
Customers enter “risk stages” in their lifecycle. During those, they are more likely to cancel (or opt not to renew) their subscriptions. An obvious risk is when the subscription expires, and the customer must decide whether to renew. You want to ensure they reach that decision point when they are happy. Each SaaS business will have a handful of such stages, depending on the nature of their offering and sales model. Think through these lifecycle stages, identify risk points, and provide extra care to customers at those times.
Too often customer support, advocacy and success teams spend all their time reacting to customer needs. Essentially, they are waiting for tickets or training requests to come to them. Being reactive and responsive is critical, but it should not come at the expense of being proactive as well. A good customer success team devotes at least 30% of its time to proactive work. This includes identifying customers with low engagement and proactively reaching out to them to remove roadblocks, essentially ensuring that customers at risk stages are highly engaged and in good condition.
What can I do for you as an as-a-service startup?
I can help you reach a bigger audience with the content you create. You have researched exactly who your customers are and you know how you can best reach them across a multitude of channels. Consequently, you have written high-quality content for them. Language is one of the techniques that marketing uses to make an impression on customers. It is, therefore, likely you will need your content in more than one language. I own BudgetVertalingOnline, which offers affordable translations into English or Dutch. Would you like to get in touch? Send me an email (email@example.com), send me a Tweet (@GdenHolder) or fill out the quotation form.
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