SaaS, otherwise known as Software as a Service, is a popular business model in which companies host and license their software from a cloud-based server on a subscription basis. It’s currently in a boom period, but actually dates back to the 1960s. Sixty years ago, very few businesses could afford to buy and maintain computers and servers. Instead, they would connect their monitors to a centralized server where they could subscribe to the services they needed. Now, all users have to do is connect to the internet, open their web browser and then type in the software application’s URL. Upon logging in, they will have full access to all its features and any stored data. No wonder it’s proven so popular.
As SaaS continues to help businesses and individuals work more efficiently, the world has taken notice. By 2022, the SaaS market is expected to reach $164.29 billion, according to Transparency Market Research. Emerging SaaS-funding companies are also indicative of this rapidly growing market. To help underscore the rush, I’ve broken down some of the key innovations that have made SaaS such an attractive option.
Thanks to SaaS’s remote accessibility, you no longer have to purchase an application from a retail store, download it on your electronic device and then install it. With SaaS, you can have full access to the software’s features whenever you want it. Business owners, entrepreneurs and other individuals can easily collaborate through the software and be fully aware of what’s going on. If they have access to the internet, they can get to work.
Since SaaS providers are the ones maintaining and servicing their software (lest they churn subscribers), users no longer have to worry about keeping their applications up to date. Many software companies would have achieved this previously by releasing new versions of their software, on CD, every year or so. Now, everyone gets their updates at the same time.
Although one must be on the lookout for hidden costs when starting a SaaS subscription, you are likely to save money by never having to pay for installation fees or fix bugs. You’re also likely to have more options for the type of features and packages you would sign up for. Upgrades are simple and can be initiated at any time, so you can always make use of them later.
One of the greatest benefits of SaaS is that it’s easy to use. For any SaaS software to be widely adopted, it has to have a short learning curve and a well-designed interface. To be more specific, the interface, features and all other components need to be clearly mapped out for a novice to be able to learn quickly, either by intuition or ollowing clear guides and tutorials. This all stems from the subscription-based model. If a SaaS business wants to keep you as a subscriber, they will have to impress you far quicker than a business selling traditional software packages.
Cloud computing offers better communications, training and project management throughout a typical business. Senior management can now manage projects in a transparent manner while being able to communicate effectively with both local and remote employees. This in turn allows companies to look further afield when finding new talent.
SaaS has helped proliferate automated marketing software. Even the smallest of startups can now utilize free trials of SaaS products to help optimize their marketing efforts (although some people warn against using cheaper plans). Not only can businesses automate their marketing campaigns, but they can also plan, execute and track their campaigns from an accessible interface. The different subscription plans offered by many marketing applications have made this kind of software more affordable because marketing SaaS applications now hope to scale their subscriptions as you scale your company.
SaaS vs. PaaS
The key difference between SaaS and PaaS — or Platform as a Service — is that SaaS provides already developed software for users to use via an outside provider, whereas PaaS vendors provide hardware and software tools for developers to use. With PaaS, developers can use the available tools to develop new software and applications. They can fully customize their software without having to start from scratch and write code. Although both PaaS and SaaS are accessed via the internet, PaaS providers will give developers access to the software-creation platform. On the other hand, SaaS users will have access to all the software’s features via a web browser. Prime examples of PaaS companies include AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Google App Engine and OpenShift.
SaaS is continuing to evolve, and will continue to have an impact on how the average business operates. The notion of subscription-based, cloud-accessible applications is unlikely to vanish anytime soon. As SaaS businesses begin to solve the problems they have with fragmentation and difficulties with integration, the market for these tools will only widen, as will their impact on our work.