TWIS#14- This Week In SaaS- Videos and Decks from SaaS and the Cloud 2010
Last weeks Rackspace SaaS and the Cloud 2010 event went really well- my presentation is getting a great reaction online so I thought I’d share it with you.
For those of you that can’t be bothered to sit through half an hour of me… I’ve done a slideshare version with the key points extracted:
And if you prefer a high res PDF of the slides- they’re here.
I also thought the VC panel was excellent- thanks to Ivan Farneti for bringing them together. I thought there were some brilliant insights into SaaS- especially if you’re looking for funding!
In case you were interested- the rest of the day’s videos and slides are here.
I’d been thinking about that presentation all week, and on Wednesday my thoughts came out quickly in Don’t Kid Yourself- SaaS is F***ing Hard! in which I said:
Too often SaaS is seen as a technical problem.
In fact, the technical part is the easiest part of the equation to solve in SaaS as it’s the only part truly in your control.
Markets with Invention Risk are those where it’s questionable whether the technology can ever be made to work – but if it does customers will beat a path to the company’s door.
Markets with Customer/Market Risk are those where the unknown is whether customers will adopt the product.
It’s critical to realise SaaS isn’t a technical problem- it’s a Marketing and Product problem. Once we get to grips with that as an industry, I think we’ll see big jumps forward in our ability to acquire customers and profitability as a result.
So the big news last week apart from SAP beheading, was Google Buzz. If you’ve read blogs this week- my apologies- but Buzz has created a furore on the blogosphere over privacy and usability. Mike Arrington covered it with the usual restraint in Google Buzz Warning – Force Feeding Users Can Result in Vomiting:
It’s been a rough week since then. Both for the Google Buzz team, and those 175 million Gmail users.
Google continues to tweak the product almost daily to deal with the incredible backlash.
This is a brilliant opportunity for SaaS vendors to learn how not to introduce network effects- arguably the most important differentiator for SaaS from Legacy software.
Companies have done it right, like Freshbooks, Mint, Concur and Spiceworks, yet Google has done it completely wrong here. I think they should have made it much clearer to users what the implications were, before automatically adding people as connections. Perhaps a clever use of game mechanics to drive adoption, but certainly not the wholesale, automatic approach they took.
The question remains- does Google acutally understand enough about how people work in order to create a social graph? Facebook and Twitter seem to have it in their DNA, but that’s outside the scope of TWIS I think.
This week, the Mobile World Conference was held at Barcelona and there has been lots of mobile related news, such as Microsoft launching their new mobile OS, “Windows Phone“.
What’s more interesting to TWIS however, is the business opportunity for apps- Windows Phone Apps are going to be natively Silverlight- but there’s a bigger problem at play in the apps sector which Mark Suster highlights brilliantly:
I would argue that if Apple’s app model continues to succeed it is bad for your health. You – being members of the technology community. I know that I’m into FanBoy territory and am ready to be attacked. Before you let me have it let me say I am a FanBoy of Apple products. I am typing this on my brand new 15″ MacBook Pro. I ran this morning with my iPod in tow. I own an iPod Touch (not an iPhone – my house in Brentwood gets literally ZERO AT&T bars). I buy all my music through iTunes and even buy some videos there. I can’t be more of a FanBay of their products. But I’m with Jason Calacanis. I think Apple has become corrupted and its dominance in mobile is not good for the industry.
Which is why I think one of the most interesting announcements this week is from Adobe on AIR:
The bane of all mobile app developers is the need to rewrite the same app over and over again for different devices: the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Nokia, Windows Mobile. Adobe is positioning its Flash platform (which includes the Flash player, AIR, developer tools, and media servers) as the write-once, deploy-anywhere solution for both the mobile Web and apps. Today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, it will announce plans to bring Adobe AIR to mobile devices, starting with Android and Blackberry phones.
Wrote Techcrunch. They went on:
AIR is currently used to create desktop applications, but it will soon be used to create Android and Blackberry apps as well. These mobile AIR apps will be able store data locally on the phone, access other data on the phones such as photos, and be distributed as regular apps in the Android and Blackberry app stores. Not only that, but the same apps created with Flash developer tools will be exportable as iPhone apps. Adobe wants developers to create their apps using its developer tools and then output them as AIR apps for Android and Blackberry phones, native iPhone apps, or Flash apps on the Web.
This is great news for SaaS- you won’t have to pick one or maintain many phone platforms, one app instead of many and get reach across many platforms. Imagine instant deployment and upgrades across all the mobile platforms! You could also reuse that same code to produce a RIA desktop client (like tweetdeck) without a major effort.
Of course, the face-off with Apple continues over Flash on the iPhone, even though last December, 7 million iPhone users attempted to download the Flash player from adobe.com through their mobile browsers, up from 3 million requests in July, 2009. Apple might eventually have to cave if Flash becomes a standard feature of all other smartphones. Adobe execs cite numbers by Strategy Analytics which estimate more than half of all smartphones will support Flash by 2012.
I think this move by Adobe is going to be particularly good for consumers, as Apple’s seemingly unbreakable hold on apps can now be broken and other phone platforms have a chance of succeeding on merit- like WebOS, not on the app monopoly.
If you’re thinking of going mobile or RIA for SaaS- I think AIR is a very strong contender now.
Finally- as I know we’ve got many people who read this who are transitioning from legacy to SaaS, Phil Waignright’s post on his conversation with SAP’s CTO Vishal Sikka was interesting:
Two themes dominated the conversation, and together they embody the dilemma that SAP and every other established enterprise software vendor confronts today:
- Cloud brings a disruptive opportunity to do things differently
- Customers have massive investments in on-premise IT
SAP’s challenge is to embrace the first without trashing the second. And to do that even though customers are moving at an enormously diverse range of velocities, with some eager to embrace the leading edge of opportunity while others want to preserve their existing infrastructure and avoid unnecessary change for as long as possible. Accommodating those different rates of change across the installed base while still moving forwards is, concluded Sikka, “the biggest challenge we have.” Perhaps it was the need to better address that challenge that led to last week’s management shake-up. (Emphasis- Ed.)
At the core of the strategy, inevitably, is an assumption that cloud and on-premise will continue to co-exist. “The landscape of existing customers is still highly heterogenous,” said Sikka. Therefore the various on-demand offerings being developed under John Wookey’s direction, he explained, are “designed around this heterogeneity.” The key to co-existence of cloud services with each other and with on-premise assets, he went on, is to introduce some kind of hub or aggregation mechanism that lets customers run services in the cloud while still preserving the integrity of their master data. Determining which instance is the master in any transaction is a critical problem that needs to be addressed in the cloud environment, he said. It’s characteristic of SAP to focus on this issue — more than anything else, its reputation rests on helping customers assure the integrity of core transactional data. It’s right also to focus on this as a special challenge in the highly dispersed, location-independent environment of cloud computing. SAP will likely bring something to market to meet that challenge, said Sikka, without going into details, except to say that “in most cases, that aggregation mechanism is best run in the cloud.”
How public companies migrate without trashing their income is creating fantastic opportunities for pure-play SaaS companies to eat their lunch while they appease their various stakeholders at the detriment to their customers.
In other news:
- Backupify launches their Backup of your online data- is this a solution to putting your data in the cloud and could this mark the end of cloud data worries?
- Hubspot launches their Channel program- detailed coverage to come in the week (make sure you subscribe to this post).
- Robert Johnson on what he learnt at SaaS University- pass won from TWIS- thanks to Rick Chapman for donating.
- Reuven Cohen on why the local datacenter isn’t dead- if only they can organise themselves into a marketplace.
- Hubspot does multi-times-a-day deployments- do you do continuous deployment yet?
- No idea how to write a sales proposal? Nice SaaS app Proposable launches this week.
- SaaS Accounting is the #3 desired app to be moved to the cloud, according to Goldman- proving how wrong listening to Analysts too closely can be…
- PBworks launches conference calling within their collaboration app bringing voice into the equation. Nice- I hate waiting to dial in bridges that seemingly never work properly…
Don’t forget- if you’ve got any news, tips or anything else- don’t be afraid to share them with me- firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great weekend.