Selling Saas

By Subraya Mallya - September 2008 | Topics - Cloud Computing, SaaS

As SaaS makes good ground in US and expands in the broader software spectrum beyond CRM, HCM and Document Management, it still remains relatively a theortical concept in other parts of the world, all the pervasiveness of online banking and online brokerage notwithstanding.

I just returned back from a extended business trip to India, doing business development, to promote our SaaS application for managing Capital Programs in the Telecom, Retail, Wind and Hospitality industries. Barring an executive or two in some multinational companies, who had some exposure to SaaS (probably in US), SaaS did not seem to make an impact. Despite mentions of it being a hosted application that customers would have to lease I kept getting requests for CDs to install the software and guidelines for hardware requirements. In most cases, I felt they assumed it to be a architectural choice and would be no different from any other on-premise app that their IT manages.

Given this scenario, I changed my strategy a little bit.

  1. I started talking to prospects about our solution as more of a managed services play where the customer just has to pay a usage fee and we would manage everything for them (running, backups and upgrades).
  2. I also started sharing a spreadsheet with all the savings they would derive, with SaaS model, in terms of
    • –Software License Costs
    • –Loaded employee costs to manage the infrastructure
    • –Redundant DR site
    • –Backup & Recovery Processes
    • –Upgrade Costs
  3. Also started talking to a few local companies to provide local managed services.

The one thing surprisingly that did that not come up was the issue of data security. I guess since we are in the early stages of SaaS introduction, it is not surprising that whole single tenancy and multi-tenancy issue did not come up.

While the mindset might change, the biggest operational hurdle, I see in having SaaS adopted in emerging economies is the pervasiveness (and predicitability) of the connectivity. In India, connectivity was highly unpredictable.

Don’t know if others have had any different experiences. Would love to compare notes

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