I recently published a blog post about the benefits of using subscription-based business models called "What bike rental and the future of software have in common." Many industries are going through a shift of revenue streams from traditional one-time sales to products being provided “as a service” and paid via subscriptions. In the software industry this is referred to as Software-as-a-Service or SaaS. However, there is much more to this than just switching from a perpetual license model to a subscription model.
The “false cloud”
Back in 2010, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff warned attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco to beware of what they called ‘false clouds.’ Benioff said “Companies hosting private cloud architectures do not benefit from economies of scale that ‘real’ cloud offers.” Back then, Salesforce.com's 77,000 customers were running on 3,000 servers spread over three global data centers. Theoretically, 77,000 companies of varying sizes would require at least 100,000 servers to independently run their CRM platforms on-premises or in a hosted solution. This translates to an equivalent output at only 3 percent of the infrastructure needed because of economies of scale and more efficient hardware utilization.
Many software companies are touting that they can deliver their software in the SaaS delivery model. However, what they are offering is often not a modern multi-tenant cloud solution where all customers are running the same software using shared resources and receiving software updates continuously without costly upgrade projects. In addition, these are not true SaaS offerings, where business users can configure functionality that would otherwise require expensive and time-consuming development using conventional single tenant software. These ‘false cloud’ solutions are often marketed as a ‘Private SaaS’ or a SIP (Secure Isolation Platform), but, in reality, are often just another way of selling an on-premise software package as a hosted solution.
SaaS is much more than cost savings
The biggest drawback with the false cloud is not that the customers are missing out on the economies of scale by not sharing resources, but that they will not have a speedy deployment, a future-proof and configurable solution, and the business agility that comes with a modern SaaS platform. 75% of enterprise software decisionmakers surveyed by Forrester rated ‘business agility’ as the top benefit of a SaaS platform, while another 72% rated ‘speed of deployment’ as a key benefit. Saving money, getting better uptime, and higher security are, of course, still relevant arguments for SaaS, but being agile and fast is of even greater importance. This is especially true for software that supports the rapidly changing processes in sales and marketing that can really reap the benefits of the SaaS model.
Software-as-a-Service is not just your software running on someone else's server. It is much bigger than that and should be an important factor when you choose your software vendors going forward.
Johan Boström, Co-founder and Evangelist, inRiver
This is part II in our story of the new landscape and reality for you as marketers. In this part, we will set the stage for examples on how to focus and prioritize when mastering this new reality.
Research from HubSpot found that the top three marketing objectives are converting contacts into customers, growing website traffic and increasing revenue derived from existing customers. Social selling is also more of a priority than ever before. Online content is key to achieving these goals because it allows you to connect with customers in the micro-moments – when they’re browsing that product, or standing in a shop comparing prices. In those valuable moments, you need to have the right content in the right place at the right time to attract customers’ attention.
Just go to an everyday situation in your life, a little bit of stress on your way home from work, drizzle and slush, you feel a bit cold. Or on your way in the morning, morning sun, crisp autumn air, and a warm coffee in your hand. These are totally different moments but if you can be reached and understood in either of these moments it will create trust and loyalty to that brand or for that product. This is what product storytelling is about.
To be successful at this we believe that you need to look at this from two different perspectives: the inside and the outside. One part of it is to collaborate to create your product stories in an efficient way. Another is to have everybody knowing what I in my role contribute to in this chain of product story telling.
At the other end of this, you must be efficient in how you syndicate your products to all selling touch-points. To have your information flowing easily between these touch points, without constantly having to manually do cumbersome touch-ups for the information to work in the different contexts.
Look out for the "5 Absolute Musts" blogposts, my five steps for taking your products to market successfully, in the coming weeks!
Jimmy Ekbäck, Executive Vice President Products & Services, inRiver
The digital transformation of commerce brings new challenges, but also opportunities for companies on a global scale. Because consumers want instant, rich, and personalized experiences as they scan the digital marketplace for products that can meet their highly set expectations. What used to be a predictable and predominantly linear customer journey is now fragmented across several devices and channels.
In these times of revolutionary digital change, the giants of the digital era help us to understand the high expectations of consumers of today, and how we as vendors must act in terms of providing the best possible experiences.
Forrester describes this in terms of Digital Intelligence; “The practice of developing a holistic understanding of customers across digital touchpoints for the purpose of optimizing and perfecting the experiences delivered and decisions made by brands during moments of engagement.”
But there are others to guide us here. Adobe for example has minted the concept of “Last Millisecond Marketing” which gives marketers the opportunity to be either heroes or just average. Last Millisecond Marketing comes down to this; as an event is triggered, either by clicking a link, logging into a site, entering a web page, loading an app, etc., only milliseconds after the action has been made, the consumer has to get the right, personalized experience delivered.
Adobe suggests that we need to execute on four key pillars:
You need to understand where your customers are spending their time, not only in physical locations, but in social, app stores, etc. Every interaction through any touchpoint is truly relevant. You need to think about when and how they try to interact with you, and in what way they try and want to do so. You need to think about every digital use case – from a PC, tablet, phone, car, store, etc., and deliver a personalized experience in that instance between an action and the next step in the consumer’s journey. It is clear that you need to go to your customers, or they will not come to you.
In a similar fashion, Google declares that life is lived through micro-moments. These are the moments where consumers suddenly have an urge to get inspired, to learn, get information, or even to buy something that will either help us or just to make us satisfied. These micro-moments dictate the way consumers act. They have dramatically fragmented the customer journey. What used to be a linear path of making a purchase is not anymore. And right now, people all over the world are trying to make the most of every moment. The question that Google asks is - are you there to satisfy their needs?
Today, marketers have so much data at their disposal. They are not really asked to do more with less, but rather, do more with more. They need to connect the dots of all the data that they have at hand in order to deliver the most compelling offering, in the right moment, across exactly the right channels – where the consumer expects to find it.
This is where the Product Information Management (PIM) is added as a crucial part of the equation. A PIM solution is designed to put marketing organizations in control of the creation and flow of consistent product information across all channels. Successful companies rely on PIM to make sure that the right content, for any type of interaction, through any touchpoint, can be delivered in the exact millisecond or micro-moment, exactly when the consumer expects a personalized experience.
Where marketers can connect the dots to deliver great content in these moments, that is where the big results start to happen. When companies engage in every touchpoint, to deliver great consumer experiences, it can make a real difference to the business.
Henrik Béen, Vice President Product Marketing, inRiver