Software as a Service (or SaaS), or the concept of delivering applications over the Internet (think Gmail, Dropbox, and Salesforce) has been with us for almost a decade now, and the market has continued to grow aggressively.
Gartner projects SaaS to reach 37.7 billion in 2016, indicating that many companies globally are finding freedom from the burden of complex software and hardware management.
The benefits of SaaS should be obvious. Consider the potential time, labor, and costs savings across the organization. One source well summarizes it this way:
“With SaaS software you can use everything through a web browser, there is no server room, mainframe, or desktop software to install. This is all seamlessly managed and taken care of remotely by the software provider.”
The cost benefit analysis of SaaS is simple: Success in today’s fast-paced technology market is vitally linked to how fast a company can integrate new business applications into their infrastructure. And the magic of SaaS is that onboarding can be made almost effortlessly by a click of a few buttons to sign up with a credit card, and then downloading the API keys.
But at the same time, SaaS integrations, or the process of allowing new applications to communicate with each other, has not always been an easy nut to crack. There are the obvious concerns about security, backup and storage, and how to fit these apps into existing legacy systems, to name a few.
But at the end of the day, SaaS integrations are powerful differentiators in today’s market. And the faster and easier the integrations are, the better! As George Reese, founder and CTO of enStratius Inc. has well stated,:
“Integration with SalesForce is what 90% of the world cares about.”
In looking ahead to 2017, there are some key trends and challenges that companies should be paying attention to as they build out their SaaS integration strategy. In this first part, we look at several major SaaS integration trends that CIOs and other business leaders should have on their radar in the year ahead.
iPaaS Markets Will Continue to Grow Rapidly
iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) is an acronym in the cloud lectionary that may not be as familiar as the more conventional terms like SaaS, but it’s every bit as powerful. iPaaS tools are cloud-based platforms that provide integration support for application and data projects that involve both cloud and on-premise resources.
The market is growing by leaps and bounds. Gartner states that the market expanded more than 50% in 2015 and all indications are that it will soon become an enterprise wide movement.
Make sure to keep an eye on top vendors of iPaaS solutions during 2017.
Read more on each solution
Internet of Things Everything
IoT has certainly garnered lots of attention (and perhaps a fair amount of hype!) over the past several years, taking the place even of Big Data for the most talked about trend in IT. But there’s an even bigger component to this movement than many realize. Here’s what Steve Case says in his recent book, The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future:
The Third Wave of the Internet will be defined not by the Internet of Things; it will be defined by the Internet of Everything . . . . where the Internet will be fully integrated into every part of our lives—how we learn, how we heal, how we manage our finances, how we get around, how we work, even what we eat.
The upshot of IoE is services – lots of them! Another source captures the essential point this way: “As IoT manufacturers seek ways to deepen their relationships with customers, a key goal will to become more strategic and provide ongoing solutions tailored to evolving customer needs. Services will be a critical element to selling solutions.”
In 2017 we should expect to see the growing IoT/IoE trend of turning objects into services, or what is popularly called the “Everything as a Service.
The real takeaway for CIOs and CEOs is to decide how to leverage the latest trends in IoE cloud-based applications and bring these all together in a seamless manner. Integration is a critical part of this process. Having proper strategies in place will be critical for determining the speed at which companies can analyze and mine data from so many new cloud-based apps and devices.
Software AI & Automation
Ever since IBM’s supercomputer “Watson” beat the best human champions on Jeopardy, artificial intelligence has become a hot topic – along with supporting technologies like machine learning and robotics. The benefits of AI are particularly apparent in the new wave of smart assistants like Siri, Facebook Messenger, or “Slackbots” which can do everything from scheduling appointments to helping complete your profile to answering questions.
Another form of AI that is becoming pervasive across industries is software bots. These are software applications that run automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet and are usually good at performing repetitive tasks at very high speeds. Software bots can now be found everywhere, from food ordering to online trading to website monitoring.
It’s only a matter of time before AI becomes mainstream in SaaS products. In the year ahead, we can expect to see an increase in more “out of the box” APIs that developers can use to make messaging and integration between various devices and applications more streamlined.
A good example of these technologies at work are found in web monitoring solutions like Monitis, which integrates with other SaaS alerting platforms like OpsGenie and VictorOps to ensure that clients are notified anywhere and anytime about critical performance issues.
Rise of the Micro SaaS Business
The irony is that while it’s becoming more difficult to build a scalable SaaS business (due to customer base and tech infrastructure), there is a perfect opportunity for what has become known as the “Micro SaaS Business.” This is a small SaaS business usually owned and bootstrapped by one person with 2-3 freelancers on the team and little or no desire for VC capital.
A micro SaaS will often sell a niche product for very specific needs not covered by bigger enterprise solutions, or that fills a gap not provided by an existing platform. A good example of this is Storemapper, which is an app that simply locates stores and now garners revenue of over $250K per year.
Emergence of DaaS
The big challenge of SaaS integration today is how to seamlessly incorporate massive amounts of data, change that data into marketable insights, and then distribute it across increasingly complicated supply chains.
Enter the Data-as-a-Service company. According to this article, “The basic idea of DaaS is to provide companies with a large volume and wide-variety cloud based data at a fraction of the cost to enable smarter day-to-day and overall strategic choices.”
The big data and technology services market is forecast to gain 23.1% annual growth over the next several years, and will fill a major gap for companies looking to streamline operations with more economical ways to analyze customer trends and activities. One provider in this growing market is Sisense, which provides data brokerage services to businesses by “simplifying business intelligence for complex data.”