The concept of SaaS has become an integral part of many modern companies’ operations. SaaS provides businesses with simple, accessible, and versatile solutions, taking them to the next level and leaving their competition behind.
But the SaaS market is only getting bigger and bigger. According to various sources, including Gartner, BetterCloud, and Zenoss, these are the figures we can expect:
- In 2019, SaaS delivery will grow 5 times faster than traditional software product delivery.
- By 2020, cloud apps will take up 90% of total mobile traffic.
- As much as 73% of all companies will be running solely on SaaS by 2020.
- In the same period, the expected growth of the SaaS market is $75 billion.
And like in every other industry, SaaS providers need to acquire a habit of continuous learning and constantly search for new ways to stand out from the rest in this dynamic and merciless market.
So, what are the latest trends in the SaaS field that businesses will have to follow if they want to become or remain key players in their niche?
AI on the Rise
The first of the seven trends is the rise of machines. If you want to grow in 2019, you will have to use artificial intelligence.
There is no doubt that the companies that use AI for business purposes have a much easier time optimizing business processes, automating repetitive tasks, and supporting human capabilities. Consequently, they increase productivity and efficiency.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help your business by taking your SaaS to the next level. When you integrate these two with your SaaS model, you will get better value from your data, improve security, automate and personalize services, and also supplement human capacities.
This is how AI is going to improve SaaS:
Machine learning can help automate responsiveness in SaaS onboarding processes, customer service reports, and applications like live chatbots.
Machines are incomparably faster than humans, so they accelerate internal processes and operations. By using them, you will get your answers fast, be able to make quick forecasts, and speed up your overall responsiveness level.
Natural Language Processing (NLP) automatically processes human speech patterns and voice control, which can enhance your customer service functionality by improving customization and better addressing your clients’ needs.
Last but definitely not least, thanks to automation and pattern recognition enabled by AI and Machine learning, built-in self-recovery can quickly identify and eliminate potential threats.
If you spend too much time contemplating whether to use AI, your competition will start using it first and outperform you really fast. However, do not rush things. It is important to always stay in control over the artificial intelligence you are using, getting the most out of it and yet keeping in mind that it is ‘just’ a machine.
Pro tip: AI’s power can be immense, so you need to be honest with yourself – Do you really know how to use it?
Before you go all in implementing AI into your SaaS business, bring in experts and set up a pilot project. Starting small, having clear and realistic goals, as well as being aware of your knowledge of AI and expanding it are all crucial for integrating AI the right way.
Migration to PaaS
The next prediction is that a number of SaaS businesses will try their luck in the world of PaaS (platform as a service). Hopefully, this will help them build custom apps and add-ons, and then add them to their original services and increase customer retention.
These are the three main advantages of entering the realm of PaaS development:
- Your overall business agility will be enhanced thanks to the improved features, functionality, and ability to customize. This, in turn, will give you more time for innovation and focusing on core commercial activities.
- You will be able to scale your business more easily because PaaS offerings are robust, flexible, and accessible.
- PaaS development regularly performs automatic updates, emphasizing overall security.
Pro tip: Don’t hesitate to switch to PaaS even if your development team has minimal coding experience in that field.
Low-code development platforms have gained popularity in recent years because they simplify the development process and provide managed backend services, so migrating from SaaS to PaaS won’t be as difficult as it may seem at first.
Mobile Comes First
Did you know that, according to a study by Intuit, nearly half of small business owners use their smartphones as the primary devices to run their business? Moreover, according to Statista, 52.2% of the overall web traffic in 2018 was generated on mobile devices.
More and more businesses are starting to use Skype and Slack, as well as various productivity apps, to communicate and check off tasks. And since a number of SaaS providers started as web or native apps, delivering a mobile experience is becoming one of the priorities.
Everything is becoming mobilized, so to speak, and that is why you need to carefully consider app development. And not just any kind of app development – you need to focus on quality and innovation. Apart from providing a great customer experience on mobile devices, you also need to get your mobile app do everything your web app does, and even more.
Pro tip: Even though there are plugins to convert your desktop app or website and adapt it to mobile devices, this is no longer enough. Instead, you need to identify all the tasks before developing a mobile app. Mobile users have different needs which require quick in and out times. So, do your research first.
Vertical vs. Horizontal
More and more companies are choosing vertical SaaS, leaving the companies that use horizontal model far behind. The vertical model allows businesses to focus on delivering vertical-specific applications for target niches, leaving the old-fashioned one-size-fits-all approach.
In addition, the vertical SaaS model enables you to get to the root of the problem at hand and increase customer loyalty. Such platforms ensure customer success by developing a product which effectively addresses the market’s pain points.
You can benefit from vertical SaaS in the following ways:
The vertical model allows companies to acquire industry-specific customer data and intelligence.
If software is designed to meet industry requirements, it will provide better business value for company operations and performance.
Pre-defined metrics and KPIs
Vertical SaaS model is integrated with pre-defined metrics, KPIs, as well as analytics that your business can use for assessment and addressing both daily and long-term processes and performance.
Enhanced data governance
Vertical SaaS uses the inclusion of industry-specific compliance capabilities to address data governance procedures. This, in turn, provides increased transparency.
An improved standard
Each developer will strive to offer a higher-quality service than their competitors, leading to the appearance of a number of industry-specific vertical SaaS providers.
Also, consider implementing knowledge base software if you have a lot of documentation. This element can significantly improve your customer support standard by allowing for better customer self-service.
Pro tip: When it comes to vertical SaaS, it is crucial that you understand the business specificities of your target niche. Knowing the differences between the needs of restaurant owners and digital marketing companies means being able to meet their specific requirements. If you want to become a go-to SaaS company for a specific niche, you need to be an expert.
All Lights on Brand
Since companies have been pouring incredible amounts of money into paid lead generation channels, this type of marketing is slowly decreasing in effectiveness.
As a consequence, the pendulum has started to shift and the number of companies investing in their brand is only increasing. This means that appearing first in search engines or creating a feature war with competition will no longer be enough.
Your prospective customers want to know what you stand for as a brand, and for this, you need to come up with a solid digital marketing plan.
This will help you enhance brand awareness, tell your story, and build your brand community, as well as add value and authenticity to communication with your audience. In a nutshell, you should focus on podcasts, video content, emails, and social platforms, as they will help you build a stronger bond with your audience.
Pro tip #1: Start with your name. Your brand’s name is what customers will remember for a long time, so you want to be known for having a catchy name that inspires trust.
Pro tip #2: Use real testimonials to give your brand credibility. Let people see how you solved their peers’ problems and they will connect with you on a deeper level.
Product and Engineering Teams Will Focus on Data
For a long time, sales and marketing teams had a lot of freedom and were not as accountable as some other departments in companies. However, with the adoption of CRMs for small business goals, everything sales and marketing teams do is becoming measurable. From ramp times and quota attainment to customer satisfaction and finance, there’s not as much opportunity to hide for these teams anymore.
And now product and engineering are about to walk the same path. Since they are among the teams with the largest expenses for SaaS businesses, they are the ones that need to manage data more effectively.
While product managers rely too much on anecdotes and intuition, engineering managers follow ‘story points’ or their gut feeling when managing teams. As a result, predicting the time, cost, adoption, and ROI associated with building new products is incredibly difficult.
However, this is about to change thanks to solutions like Pendo, Intercom, Appcues, and Aptrincsic. Thanks to them, it is now much easier to analyze user activity within a product, drive feature adoption, as well as capture in-app feedback.
Therefore, measuring your product and engineering performance will become necessary in order for you to be able to manage it successfully. Also, this will help your team learn how to be more productive.
Pro tip: Measure every step of your customer’s data and make changes accordingly. Update your product on a regular basis based on the data you receive from your logs before your customers start complaining about it.
Pricing Becomes Serious
Last year, companies that changed their pricing had a significant revenue growth as a result. Logically, when this trend becomes obvious, more and more companies will start adopting it.
Some companies will double down on pricing successes, while later stage companies will probably hire people to manage their pricing and packaging strategy. In addition, pricing monitoring and implementing changes will play a major role.
What you could do is to form a pricing committee which will be cross-functional and include people across various departments (product, finance, marketing, sales, etc.).
Then, organize monthly or quarterly committee meetings with the following agenda:
- Reviewing pricing KPIs
- Monitoring competitors
- Making pricing decisions
Pro tip: The biggest mistake you can make regarding your pricing is to have one plan for all your customers. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, try to optimize your pricing.
To do this, you need to fully understand how your customers use your product, supported by objective and subjective data. Then, use this data to create various pricing plans that have the exact features that your customers need.
Can You Keep Up?
Every experienced SaaS developer will tell you this industry is not going to slow down any time soon. And they’re right. As the matter of fact, the SaaS industry is one of the fastest growing at the moment, with new businesses emerging each month.
In 2019, as competition is only getting tougher, those who follow the latest, innovative trends will outperform their competitors. The trends listed in this article can help you be the one to lead other brands in your industry.
From AI and migration to PaaS to brand promotion and pricing strategy, you will need to be fast and smart when introducing changes in order to effectively scale your SaaS business. If you succeed, then yours may be the business others admire.
The only question is: Can you keep up?