Recently, I published a report about a small software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendor, Dimdim, which is having success in the crowded Web conferencing market. Like many small vendors, Dimdim provides a free service tier, generously allowing up to 20 participants into the free meeting, to help drum up business. The report, though, did not simply highlight the number of users that Dimdim has captured in four short years of existence -- over 5 million -- but also its success in attracting partners like Intuit, Novell and Nortel CVAS. Why? For new vendors entering crowded markets, attracting partners is vital for two reasons:
Partners open doors to new markets. In crowded markets, incumbent vendors and new entrants jostle to serve customer needs. For the new entrants, the customers that can be wrangled through media hype and analyst buzz is minimal. Mass appeal comes from firms with strong working relationships with a range of buyers in a number of markets -- e.g., oil & gas, healthcare, government -- embracing a small vendor's offering and introducing it to their clients.
On July 27, 2010, Parallax Capital Partners announced that it was acquiring Daptiv, a SaaS PPM vendor. Forrester customers who are current Daptiv customers or are considering Daptiv as a PPM vendor should not be deterred. As a $20 million vendor, Daptiv provided a strong work group for project portfolio management, performing well at the departmental or divisional level, but had limited capabilities in areas that were attractive to enterprisewide implementations, including functionality (i.e., resource management and financial project management) and ability to scale development or support - a typical problem for smaller vendors. Prior to the acquisition, the company had started down the path toward enterprise viability, but the vendor was still seen as best suited to small to medium-sized standalone implementations.
Acquisition by capital investment firms can mean prepping a company for sale, but with Parallax operating Daptiv as a wholly owned subsidiary, Daptiv’s future looks much more positive. Having Parallax’s backing, the vendor will now be able to:
Increase R&D funding to further develop the connectors for ERP integration as well as extend connectors to other demand management or portfolio management tools.
Provide resource management functionality that supports forecasting and capacity management.
Increase support capabilities for larger, more complex implementations in order to compete at the enterprise level.
Extend its Daptiv platform to encompass more work-related data and reporting.
Provide increased financial modeling at the portfolio level and project actual capture for financial reporting.
This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.
And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”
Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:
In discussions on cloud computing, I often talk to architects who have been told to create a "cloud strategy." This sounds appropriate enough, but there’s a devil in the details: When the task is "create a Technology X strategy," people often center strategy on the technology. With cloud, they aim to get a good definition of pure cloud and then find places where it makes sense to use it. The result is a technology strategy silo where cloud is placed at the center and usage scenarios are arranged around it. The problem with this is three-fold:
Considering the full business dynamics of any given usage scenario, there is a wide continuum of often strongly competing alternatives to pure cloud (including cloud-like and traditional options).
The rapid pace of market development means that business value equations along this continuum of options will keep changing.
Your business needs integrated strategy for many technologies, not simply a siloed cloud strategy.
For those of you unable to attend, I will summarize some of the content that I presented on SAP’s overall growth and innovation strategy. SAP has a double-barreled product strategy focused on Growth and Innovation.
The Growth strategy rests heavily on the current Business Suite, which includes the core ERP product that is used by approximately 30,000 companies worldwide. SAP claims that it touches 60 percent of the world’s business transactions, which is hard to validate but not all that hard to believe. The main revenue source today is Support, which comprises 50% of the total revenues of the company at more than 5 billion Euros annually, and it grew by 15% in 2009. Other growth engines include:
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is rapidly becoming “Everything-as-a-Service” (or, as a client said to me last week, “All-as-a-Service”).I’ve been reporting the impact of SaaS on IT management software for nearly two years now and I keep saying that SaaS is really a phenomenon of new market entrants with compelling arguments against incumbent suppliers. Operators like ServiceNow.com, ManageEngine, Splunk, and SpiceWorks are leading a charge to replace HP, BMC Software, and CA installations. So it’s NOT really a trend impacting small and medium businesses only: many enterprises, even large ones, now also prefer a SaaS solution for their systems monitoring, IT asset management, service desk, or even discovery and CMDB management.
In the last weeks there has been a series of SaaS announcements by the megavendors. But the inquiries coming in from Forrester clients imply that things are not all that clear on these announcements. So here is a quick summary. As you will see, while riding the SaaS wave, they each interpret it differently.
CA now has a Service Desk On Demand offering based on their Service Desk r12 product. It’s run on dedicated installation in their data center or as a multi-tenant instance in one of CA’s partners installations also hosted there. CA clearly wants to limit the service to their target enterprise market. They will control this by requiring a minimum 1 year contract (with financial incentives for signing for 2 or even 3 years), a minimum of 50 service desk analysts (you pay per analyst per month) and, most importantly, you cannot just sign up for the service on the web, you have to be approved by CA first.