SaaS vendors must collect customer insights for innovation and compliance.
As of the end of last year, about 30% of companies from our Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2011, were using some software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution; that number will grow to 45% by the end of 2012 and 60% by the end of 2013. The public cloud market for SaaS is the biggest and fastest-growing of all of the cloud markets ($33 billion in 2012, growing to $78 billion by the end of 2015).
However, most of this growth is based on the cannibalization of the on-premises software market; software companies need to build their cloud strategy or risk getting stuck in the much slower-growing traditional application market and falling behind the competition. This is no easy task, however. Implementing a cloud strategy involves a lot of changes for a software company in terms of products, processes, and people.
A successful SaaS strategy requires an open architecture (note: multitenancy is not a prerequisite for a SaaS solution from a definition point of view but is highly recommended for vendors for better scale) and a flexible business model that includes the appropriate sales incentive structure that will bring the momentum to the street. For the purposes of this post, I’d like to highlight the challenge that software vendors need to solve for sustainable growth in the SaaS market: maintaining and increasing customer insights.
The following is a guest post by Senior Research Associate James McDavid:
When tweets from Katie Price (aka Jordan, a British glamour model) talking about the recently released Chinese GDP figures and the potential effects of large-scale quantitative easing on the liquidity of the bond markets began appearing in my Twitter stream early this week I was a little surprised. Not entirely shocked (I "accidentally" read her autobiography and she’s undoubtedly a smart cookie and a successful businesswoman) but certainly a little confused. Had her account been hacked, had she decided that what the UK really needed was a new Iron Lady and that she was up for it? A few tweets later all was revealed when Katie tweeted a picture of herself holding a chocolate bar as part of the Snickers campaign, "You’re not you when you’re hungry."
Leaving Scrum, Sarbanes-Oxley, and related concerns aside for the moment, a hot topic these days in app dev circles is product-oriented development. While teams in IT departments might have different motives than ISVs, systems engineers, or people in other situations, they're all interested in roughly the same thing. What it takes to qualify as a product may not be altogether clear, and there may be no definitive way of measuring whether your team's thinking and behaviors have shifted from project-centric to product-centric. As rough-hewn as the concept of product-oriented development might be, it's still an attractive destination for people coming at it from multiple directions. (Not coincidentally, this is the topic of a soon-to-be-published doc.)
In an unexpected way, many of the app dev teams that have been most successful at dealing with compliance are, as it turns out, acolytes of the product-oriented approach. They may not realize it, as their work output may not be any more productized than it was before. Instead, compliance is what turns into a product.
Now that Agile has moved into the mainstream, it is encountering a whole new raft of challenges, including compliance. The word on the street for at least the past couple of years is that trying to be Agile and satisfy regulatory requirements is a lot like juggling chainsaws and machetes: theoretically possible but certainly not advised.
Fortunately, the word on the street is nearly always wrong. When I started interviewing people who had made Agile succeed in highly regulated environments, I expected to hear a lot of handy best practices that I could synthesize into a research document — essentially, a tactical guide to compliance. If you're a medical device company and you need to document six ways from Sunday how you validated and verified the software embedded in a new device, here's what you might do. If you need to deal with the auditors, here's where an investment in an application life-cycle management (ALM) tool might help.
Although this type of research depends on interviews, it's worth taking a peek at the available survey data to see if it has any additional insights. And boy howdy, am I glad I did. Sifting through the data collected in the survey that Forrester did in conjunction with Dr. Dobb's Journal, I found the first of two big surprises about Agile and compliance:
Agile adoption in the most regulated industries is not significantly different from the adoption rate everywhere else.
The rise and rise of cloud has been dominating the headlines for the past few years, and for CIOs, it has become a more serious priority only recently. People like cloud computing. Well - at least they like the concept of cloud computing. It is fast to implement, affordable, and scales to business requirements easily. On closer inspection, cloud poses many challenges for organizations. For CIOs there are the considerable challenges around how you restructure your IT department and IT services to cope with the new demands that cloud computing will place on your business - and often these demands come from the business, as they start to get the idea that they can get so many more business cases over the line for new capabilities, products and/or services, as they realize that cloud computing lowers the costs and hastens the time to value.