Whenever I hear a software vendor talking about the SMB market place – and lately many are and with big ambitions, I always ask what have they to offer in the SaaS category to SMB users. That quickly separates the real players from the Wannabees. SaaS as an entree into SMB market place has the following attractions to SMB players:
1)Get enterprise caliber software with fixed cost and very low capital commitment;
2)Can gradually enter into SaaS commitment with on-demand usage for gradual turn-on by region, department or other step by step method. This gives live testing, train-in and back out recourse;
3)Can use SLA-Service level Agreements to protect against availability and security outages;
4)Can rely on SaaS providers to accelerate on-demand capabilities – that is one of their key competitive and operational advantages;
5)Can use competitive nature of the market to bargain for better pricing or SLA or On demand terms of service;
6)Because of Web delivery can expect improving GUI functionality and response time with new Ajjax and Flash and other presentation technologies including advanced portal and drilldown capapbilities;
7)Also because of Web delivery can expect the training and remembering how to use time to be lower than desktop based applications with complex and intimidating menu-systems, endless succession of dialog boxes, and associated high learning curves.
8)Can get the same level of sophisticated operational supports and features that Fortune 500s get.
And it appears that some pretty major software companies are getting this message. Microsoft is doing its latest desperation catch- up play with a whole slew of Live Services being bolted together and thrown out … offered to customers. BI stalwart Business Objects has created a first entry with CrystalReports.com as SaaS service point. symantec seeing the Microtrend advanatge is now offereing Vista and Windows XP security in a SaaS offering. And IBM is not only offering SaaS services but infrastructure support to SaaS vendors. So if you are a SMB and a software evndor approaches you, see if they have first rate SaaS service offerings comparable to their desktop or Client/server offerings.