July 2008


I recently wrote an article on this topic, which got published in Global Services Media. This is what it talks about…..

Haven’t we all heard about Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), or on-demand as it is popularly known, and the buzz surrounding it? Thankfully, it doesn’t remain a buzz anymore. Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are taking it seriously as its benefits are considered real…. Read the full article

This topic is the session that I attended today morning and it was delivered by Vinod Harith from CMO axis.   This happens to be the first session that I attended in Nasscom Emerge Forum. I look forward to attending more in the future and probably present as well.

It really was a good presentation and this is a gist of what was presented (I have added my view points as well to some of them!):

1. Thought Leadership works

2. You need to have a view point for you to be a thought leader

3. It is not about Posting and Hoping, and it certainly deserves its place. What I mean by posting and hoping is about the thought contents that are generated and disseminated through various mediums  and hoping that it would result in leads.

4. This really can be low-cost activity where your time is the only investment and not hard dollars.

5. Buying patterns of people are changing and it becomes essential to be available and visible to the buyers at the appropriate forums and settings.

6. The trick lies in building the ecosystem towards promoting thought leadership.

7. Get the analysts to ask you for briefing as opposed to you seeking briefing sessions with them. [After all, they also need to make profits and they will invariably transform your request for briefing sessions into an engagement]

8. Metrics for measuring thought leadership should be related to the number of touch points that you have created towards reaching your target audience as opposed to the leads.

9. Thought leadership certainly provides you with the necessary differentiation, provides you with pricing power and allows you to compete with the big players.

Guess I have covered most of what was discussed. As an aside, we at Aspire Systems are implementing quite a few activities towards thought leadership, and I believe that it really works and is a must for any marketing organization.

I am referring to startup ISVs that are self-funded and are funded by their own revenues and not about investor funded ISVs.

My list of 10 things that they should know are these:

1. Product pricing is too damn hard – Shareware, Freeware, Freemium, Premium or a combination

2. You need developers and not programmers

3. Don’t hire till such time that you need to absolutely fill that position

4. Take your product to the show, I meant trade shows

5. Prefer responsive sales to proactive sales

6. Don’t do advertising, instead choose viral syndication

7. Don’t confuse yourself that Microsoft is not an ISV

8. Your articles and blogs should be more interesting than your product

9. Convince at least three friends of yours on your idea before starting out

10. Don’t forget to have your coffee during your market research, number crunching and presentations

There is a certain buzz surrounding SaaS and the scope of it keeps increasing as there is definite acceptance of this model. Does this mean that all ISVs can change their traditional software to Services?

The transition from traditional software to SaaS is quite daunting. But, as the saying goes, more the challenges, more will be the opportunities. When it is a new product and you are starting out on SaaS, you can really version your software and get to market quickly; get a feel of how the market reacts and incrementally keep improving in a reactive way. Whereas, when you are talking about moving your existing software to SaaS version, it needs to be as good as the real thing, else it won’t fly.

It either has to be better or as good as the traditional software. This is where the challenge lies for the ISVs to move from on-premise to on-demand. Imagine a situation, where your enterprise product is selling for a million dollars, and you want to move to SaaS and this effectively means that it might take enormous volumes for you to achieve the million through this model. Here, SaaS may not be the right move.

On the other hand, if this million dollar product company identifies a completely different market (or the long tail as we put it!)  for the SaaS offering, then this can definitely be  a reality.

At the same time, you cannot delay the inevitable of offering your SaaS version if there is a market, lest someone lese would offer it and your entry barriers in this business model would become even more steep.

When a software buyer evaluates a software product to meet organization requirements, there are several parameters that will come into play. One of the major factor that would ultimately affect the buying decision is cost. Now, there are four key cost components involved when buying a product from the customer’s perspective (over the product’s lifetime). They are Product Cost, Product Implementation Costs, Product Integration Costs, and Maintenance Costs.

Of the four, the last three are directly proportional to the complexity of the architecture and the design of the product; and the flux in the IT ecosystem of the customer’s enterprise setup. These three costs can be controlled through the usage of SOA, which will eventually reduce the total cost of ownership for the customer.

This is a brief of a paper that was written by Jayaprakash of Aspire Systems. The full paper can be viewed here, though you need to register your email address before viewing the paper.

SaaS has been targeting the Small and Mid market companies by and large. Why wouldn’t the large enterprises go ahead with SaaS? In my mind, there are two key reasons why they wouldn’t want to SaaS, one being the integration capabilities of SaaS application with their existing IT ecosystem and the other being the flexibility provided by SaaS offerings towards customization required by them.

Is there a silver bullet to these issues? The answer lies in SOA, which if implemented well can allow the SaaS vendors to cater to the large enterprises. Moreover, mid-market companies requirements are more or less the same  in comparison to large enterprises. So, the earlier that SOA is adopted by SaaS vendors, the better it would be for them. Implementing SOA is not easy by itself and it requires a lot of discipline and understanding of business processes.

Some of the key things that you can accomplish with SOA:

  • Your SaaS application can integrate well with existing IT assets of your end-user
  • Mashups will become a possibility between business processes or services that can be a combination of on-demand and on-premise services
  • SOA enabled SaaS will allow you to scale, flexibly version your software efficiently. Take a look at salesforce.com and the volumes they do.

SOA can get you only as much but not really to where you want to be in terms of integration, scale and flexibility. This certainly would require an excellent governance mechanism. If the various predictions of SaaS adoption is to become true ever, then SOA needs to be the foundation for SaaS.

In the next few weeks, we at Aspire Systems are coming up with a paper and a webinar on this same topic targeting the ISVs that are in SaaS and considering moving to SaaS. Watch this space for more information.

This is  a post that I read in Webguild.  This is about a company called dimdim, which I have been following really closely for the last few months. It is very sad that we didn’t come across dimdim when we were evaluating a conferencing solution for our use. I also wrote an earlier post on “dimdim challenges webex”.

The more I look at them, they are just not going to challenge webex and they are going to challenge multiple players who have positioned themselves differently. Some of my thoughts on that are:

Dimdim can possibly be the poor man’s video conferencing solution with all the features that they offer, especially their ability to offer webcam videos, integrated audio, whiteboard and browser-client. You don’t really need expensive hardware and the associated costs involved in setting up a video conferencing room etc. I have earlier done  a post on collaborative solutions and how it would be ideal for offshoring companies to interact with their customers.

Additionally dimdim can position itself as a Live eLearning platform, the way elluminate and picturetalk does. They position themselves as Live eLearning Platform, Collaboration Platform and Cross-platform conferencing solutions. All of these are available with dimdim with the features that they bring to the table.

I am really glad that over 500K people from over 180 companies have started using this; and this is being used for education as well. I wish and believe that they would certainly not become an acquisition candidate at least for the next few years, and change this space.

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