Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people with great new business ideas. One theme we keep coming back to is how Software as a Service (SaaS) is starting to take off.
I’ve blogged before about the pros and cons of buying your software as a service over the internet, so I won’t go into the details here.
What occurred to me during these discussions is the real SaaS revolution comes from the words “software” and “service” being used in the same phrase.
Software companies are not known for their service ethic. Most people’s experience with the IT industry’s idea of service involves many hours of being on hold and pointless discussions with poorly trained call centre operators who can’t help at all.
This is where the opportunities and challenges lie for the new breed of entrepreneurs.
Gaining the market’s trust is the greatest challenge. People have been abused for too long by software, computer and telecoms vendors and as a consequence have lost trust in the sector.
For SaaS providers, they have more barriers such as concerns about data security, portability and the overall reliability of the internet. Those are some big obstacles to get over.
Once over these barriers there are great opportunities. The traditional sales model of expensive distribution chains delivering boxes of CDs to your local computer store is dying.
The new internet-driven markets allow a software developer to deliver good, reliable services anywhere in the world.
The key words in that last sentence are “good, reliable services”. Those words apply to every industry right now. Your customers have to trust you, and in turn you can’t abuse them.
Another interesting aspect of last week’s conversations are the ethics and motivation of this new generation of entrepreneurs.
Rather than seeing their business as a way of writing off European cars and expensive properties, these folk want to deliver good products that have real benefits to their customers and society as whole.
That’s a refreshing change from the old way of doing business and the cultures of executive entitlement that have developed as a result.
We can only hope our governments help these entrepreneurs build the future with the same determination they seem to have on propping up the tired old industries of the past.
The days of being able to hide in a corporate campus or a city skyscraper and fob your customers off with poor service are over. All businesses, not just software companies, need to realise that service, trust and keeping your promises is the key to survival.