One major trick to SaaS is making it applicable. Startups can offer the most intuitive user experience *evar*. In fact, they can offer the most incredible service this side of Timbuktu. Without relevancy, though, it is usually dead in the water.
In the realm of B2B this means personnel. Great sales software is useless without sales guys. Ditto for finance software and finance guys, marketing software and marketing guys, etc. Of course, most startups lack the proverbial “full hand.”
Typically this is related to finances or opportunity cost. Most organizations opt for developing a nifty feature rather assume the burden of a full time employee. This is why Agile development can be so crucial -many minds assume a role to the best of their ability.
And yes, skills rise with experience. Without someone to assume that role, however, there is less chance for quality or consistency. This, in fact, has been a major criticism of Agile development going way back. Input is great. Competing agendas or perspectives? Not so much…or at least not all the time.
The result is an interesting hybrid: Marketplace-oriented SaaS. Now that may seem like a misnomer. SaaS is already a service! It’s in the damn acronym, for crying out loud! But availability nor quality is a garunter of success.
So what’s the solution? Bringing experts to the client. There are a load of freelance sites available. Some are broad -just look at Upwork. And while useful for general stuff, many professions are beginning to branch out. Take UpCounsel, for instance.
Maybe it exists because law is too esteemed for generic freelance sites…or because sites like Upwork are too broad…or because differentiation is better for attracting customers. Whatever the reason, UpCounsel is a roaring success.
The real twist? UpCounsel’s solution is not for lawyers themselves. Rather, it’s for people looking for lawyers. Through it, executives no longer need to bother with esoteric terms -at least not as much. It’s far simpler than going through a law firm -which, in turn, often cost 60% in overhead…at least according to UpCounsel. Accessibility is as much at a premium as effectiveness.
Other services, meanwhile, are empowering clients even more. Research is probably the best example. Going through a research firm is can also costly. New solutions are bypassing this divide. They offer specialized tools that enable laymen to gather insight.
Not that the quality is guaranteed to be on par with those run by a professional. Rather, it’s a question of enablement. Organizations that cannot afford a professional can at least conduct the research themselves. In the case that they can’t? There’s an option for that!
Funnily enough, available expertise is becoming the new standard for SaaS. Not that software solutions will cease offering advanced options for professionals. Rather, SaaS creators are finding new ways to incentivize use of their software. Where this trend goes will be interesting. It cuts out organizations that, through collective clout, were able to charge exorbitant fees. The end result, ideally, is greater access to expertise that startups can put to good use.
Picture courtesy of Maciej Latałło via Creative Commons