The Software-as-a-Service – or SaaS – business model has been around for decades. In the past decade, however, it has achieved true ubiquity as enterprises of all kinds have embraced the opportunity to have near-immediate access to a wide range of critical business applications, without having to shell out significant dollars in hardware costs or endure complex technical integrations.
Today, SaaS users enjoy dramatic cost savings and improved efficiencies. New tools can be implemented and deployed across an organization almost immediately. SaaS users benefit from universal upgrades and the introduction of new configurations that suppliers develop and push out to all customers at the same time, ensuring the availability of the most up-to-date versions and newest features. At the end of the day, SaaS puts the management and maintenance of the platform in the hands of business users, as opposed to teams of technical IT people.
The initial wave of SaaS suppliers flooding the market focused primarily on sales automation and customer care. The market rapidly expanded to include just about any business function that could be delivered as a service. For the most part, these early SaaS providers were horizontal in nature, offering industry-agnostic applications that could be used and deployed by any company of any size. Companies with purpose-built, monolithic legacy platforms leaped at the opportunity to rid themselves of onerous maintenance chores, capital costs, and teams of people solely responsible for managing the platform.
Over time, however, it became clear that horizontal SaaS platforms and the generic tools they offered were missing specific capabilities that would preclude entry into certain industries. The telecommunications and media and publishing industries, for example, required a degree of customization, industry expertise, and sector-specific applications the horizontal providers could not deliver.
As the SaaS industry matured, the need for customization became even more pronounced, driven by digital transformations and the efforts by enterprises to modernize their technology stack to support new partnerships and the launch of new non-traditional products and services. Enterprises in these industries wanted the benefits of SaaS combined with industry-specific tools and applications that could help them to successfully evolve their business models, expand the horizons of their traditional marketplaces, and add value to existing customer relationships.
To its credit, Salesforce was one of the first SaaS suppliers to see the direction in which the industry was heading and respond accordingly. Through the formation of Salesforce Industries, the company targeted specific verticals with solutions that featured the universal attributes of SaaS that enterprises have come to love, alongside industry-focused and nuanced features. Through product development and acquisition strategies, Salesforce Industries has created a range of toolsets and strategies aimed at specific industries, successfully appealing to companies for which a horizontal SaaS platform is simply not enough.
Within the billing world, Aria has followed Salesforce’s lead by developing product add-ons, standalone modules, and offerings such as Aria Media and Publishing Suite and Aria for Communications, developed with the needs of those specific industries in mind.
The present and future of SaaS are about blending the cost and time-saving DNA that made it so alluring in the first place, with tools and capabilities created for specific vertical industry use. With increased frequency and across additional industries like financial services, insurance, and healthcare, enterprises will want the best of both worlds and will look to suppliers that cater to their unique and distinct industry needs, delivered via the flexibility and adaptability of the SaaS model.
Learn how the Aria and Salesforce Cloud BSS solution combines the benefits of SaaS with industry-specific functionality