TWIS#16 Microsoft ALL IN, Netsuite and RightNow news


I had some great feedback this week from people who subscribe to this, that sometimes they find it hard to dig through all the content in TWIS, so a summary would be great. The irony is I’ve long given a summary to the Linkedin group, but never here- so starting today, you’ll both see the summary.

In TWIS this week:

  • Microsoft announces it’s “all in” for cloud, Ballmer emails every Microsoft employee and asks them to re-evaluate what they are doing and how it relates to the cloud.
  • Forrester shows it’s Cloud Privacy Map- be aware of other countries data laws.
  • “Local Cloud” adoption in Europe is slower than in the US according to ScaleUp
  • Channels in SaaS- Netsuite launches new 100% commission reseller program. What are the effects on their business?
  • RightNow aims to change the licensing practices of the “big boys”, accuses Salesforce of having “up to 30% shelfware”. Oh and some rather bad taste marketing to accompany it.
  • Topspin Media sharing their internal metrics and process for measuring success- very insightful
  • Mobile Roadie’s mobile app platform- now with Android and starting to be a competitor to Adobe?
  • And other SaaS news!

Like the summary here too? Email me your feedback-


I’ve long said, never underestimate Microsoft. Any company that can spend $9.5 billion dollars on R&D should never be sidelined. Yes, they’ve made some strategic errors in going to SaaS, but in a large corporation changing direction is like steering a container ship, slow and hard work. Their problem has been that they’re configured for the old world of enterprise software, long development cycles and big bang releases of installed software. The world has changed and finally it seems like Microsoft is changing too, Steve Ballmer said yesterday:

As I said today, when it comes to the cloud, we are all in. We are all in across every product line we have and across every dimension of the cloud.

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Onelogin- SaaS App review #1: The Good, Bad and Ugly- Nice SaaS SSO App

I’ve been getting feedback from people that know me well, that I don’t share enough of my core SaaS product expertise on the blog. This post is the first in a series of product reviews of SaaS applications- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

The first app I wanted to review was onelogin, a really nice SaaS password management tool for web applications.

Onelogin Home Page

Security is the number one concern of buyers of SaaS, yet because SaaS is so decentralised, security is democratised to each application unless each application integrates individually with your company directory.

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Every SaaS Company’s Nightmare- Channels!

Regular readers know that I think channels in SaaS are essential- but they’re very hard to get right. Too often I see people with a product that isn’t selling well on the web say “oh, we’re going to sell it through the channel“.

They’re in for a massive wake up call- don’t let that happen to you!

I wanted to kick start a discussion about channels in SaaS- so here is my stab at it- comments please!

#1 – Your primary channel is the web- If you can’t sell it on the web, you shouldn’t be in SaaS (or it’s not SaaS).

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TWIS#15 Salesforce on SaaS Network Effects and Ecosystem


We’ve got some Conference passes to give away for TWIS readers to the upcoming London Cloud Computing Congress.

It’s taking place on the 15/16 March at Olympia and there are some fantastic speakers attending- a lot from the “real world” so it’ll be a good opportunity to gather real data from real users. I’m particularly excited about meeting Dion Hinchliffe- esteemed blogger.

The passes are worth £195.00 each but the conference also has a free workshop track– so if you don’t win one of the passes you can still attend part.

As always, priority will be given to those that can actually attend- so please make that clear on your entry- with the subject “CCCL Draw” to be entered.


Sometimes I think we need a re-boot, a reminder of why we’re in SaaS and reinforce to ourselves why we’re not. It’s too hard to be successful not to think this about it sometimes.

Marc Benioff’s post this week on Techcrunch was one such reminder.

I quit my job at Oracle in 1999 because I couldn’t stop thinking about a simple question: “Why isn’t all enterprise software like” Why couldn’t applications be run from a simple website, without software or hardware to install, and pricy consultants to hire? Why couldn’t we just compute in the Internet, or the cloud, and get away from the data center and all its complexity. Simply put, I wanted to simplify the enterprise. It was a pretty straight-forward idea, but from the confines in which I sat, there wasn’t anything close to a straight-forward solution.

That vision led to the founding of But the enterprise world wasn’t ready for, or eBay, or Yahoo, or any of the innovative services that were changing the way consumers bought, sold, or communicated.

That was eleven years ago and most of us don’t have the luxury of burning through $13m a year for five years until you can file an IPO. Even if we did, the world has changed- Marc continues:

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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:

Don’t Kid Yourself- SaaS is F***ing hard!

I’ve been thinking about this post since doing my seminar last week for Rackspace.

Too often SaaS is seen as a technical problem.

It isn’t.

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.

Steve Blank said:

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.

And he gives us a really nice diagram to analyse with: Continue reading

Guest post- What I Learned at SaaS University by Robert C. Johnson

Hi, I’m Robert Johnson from– I won the competition for the pass to the SaaS University in Dallas last month and while I would have rather won a $100 million lottery, I didn’t complain… I promised Justin I’d write a lessons learned post, so I can share my learnings with you- and here it is….

Frankly, I would not have attended the seminar if I hadn’t won the ticket.  It was a significant time and money commitment (2 days and $1,000), but in retrospect I’m glad I was able to attend.

It was a jam packed two day session which started with a keynote presentation by Peter Coffee of SalesForce.  Obviously SalesForce is pro-SaaS and Peter enumerated the reasons we all know why SaaS is poised to take over the world.

Afterwards, Rick presenting some highlights from SoftLetter’s SaaS survey.  This survey was sent to a large number of SaaS companies, including mine, and ends up being a “best practices” guide that helps all SaaS companies measure against ourselves.  One of the most interesting things to me was on the marketing side – Apparently Webinars really work!  Of the various methods SaaS companies use to market themselves, the webinar method appears to be one of the best (note to self:  Set up a webinar program for TeamSupport…).

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Gartners “Magic” Quadrant- Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about Analysts and their role in SaaS for a while- my favourite VC blogger Mark Suster prodded me in to action this morning after reading his post 73.6% of all Statistics are Made Up:

The headlines in the media are filled with that latest stats.  Stats sell.  The stats are often quoted from the latest reports.  People then parrot them around like they’re fact when most of them are complete bullsh*t.  People throw them around at cocktail parties.  Often when they do I throw out my favorite statistic:  73.6% of  all statistics are made up.  I say it deadpanned.  Often I’ll get some people look at me like, “really?”  ”It’s true. Nielsen just released the number last month.”

No.  It’s irony.

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TWIS#13- This Week in SaaS – SAP CEO Resigns, Google Announces Buzz, Microsoft Profit Analysed

You’ll be please to know, as my wife predicted, my bout of man flu passed quickly 😉 and I’ve spent most of this week preparing for today’s Rackspace SaaS and the Cloud event. I’ll post the slides and hopefully a video next week- How to optimise your SaaS Revenue Streams. If you missed Lincolns webinar this week- the slides are here

So the big news this week has been that the SAP CEO “resigned” and been replaced by co-CEO’s

Jeff Kaplan said it better than anyone:

The significance of this event was clearly underlined by the role SAP’s Co-Founder and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Hasso Plattner, played as the primary company spokesperson during a corporate conference call this morning.

During the call, Plattner made an emotional defense of the company’s strategies and tactics in response to rising criticism in the face of SAP’s financial struggles. Plattner used the occasion to dispute claims that SAP isn’t moving fast enough to respond to changes in the market by proclaiming that SAP is well on its way to becoming a “multiple product company”. He gave Apotheker credit for “turning around” BusinessByDesign and said the rollout of the v2.5 of the on-demand solution is “close”.

The reality is that BusinessByDesign has only had isolated success in a handful of deployments in the field, and its scalability from a technological and go-to-market point of view is yet to be proven.

The truth is that BusinessByDesign’s lack of success is a reflection of SAP’s lack of commitment to the solution and an overall SaaS strategy.

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TWIS #12

TWIS Events

I’m delivering a Seminar in London on Friday- How to optimise your SaaS revenue streams at the Rackspace SaaS and the Cloud 2010 event.

There’s going to be a fantastic VC panel discussion afterwards, including Ivan Farneti and Saul Klein from Seedcamp/Index.

It’s free and there are a limited number of places left! If you’re in the UK- it would be criminal to miss it… 😉

My Interview with Lincoln has been my most popular post ever. I don’t normally promote webinars but he’s doing one next week on “Making channels work to grow your SaaS business“. It’ll be good.


I’m sat here embarking on TWIS #12 with a bout of man flu and 400 unread posts in my feed reader :(

Update- I’m down to 26- here goes…

Too often I think as an industry, we focus on the obvious benefits of SaaS- as outlined by Ray:

  1. Richer user experience – SaaS apps bring Web 2.0 usability to the enterprise world through rich internet applications using Adobe Air, HTML 5, Microsoft Silverlight, and other tools.
  2. Rapid implementation – SaaS applications focus on configuration and integration, not hard core implementation.  Users can be up in weeks, not months.
  3. Frequent cycles of innovation – At present, most vendors introduce new functionality, enhancements, and bug fixes on frequent refresh cycles.  Some vendors provide as frequent as weekly updates, others – seasonal.
  4. Minimal upgrade hassles – Users focus on minimal testing scenarios and receive updates all at once.  In applications with significant regulatory and tax updates, SaaS applications reduce the cost of compliance by as much as 77%.
  5. Always on deployment – Organizations can expect average up-time levels at 99.95% or higher for most applications.  These results often exceed existing on-premise performance.
  6. Subscription pricing – Subscription pricing reduces the capital burden of common on-premise payment models.
  7. Scalability – Organizations can add or subtract users as needed without worrying about procuring new hardware and other infrastructure.

Yet the real value in SaaS is not any of the above when compared to legacy software, but the network effects generated by having multi-tenant systems. Ray Goes on: Continue reading