Software-as-a-Service is Changing
SaaS is changing, and it was inevitable. There’s only so many SaaS apps that a person can use before they start to see diminishing returns from having to jump from app to app and not having the data from one app flow seamlessly into another. We’ve seen temporary solutions to this issue with SaaS apps like Tableau, which integrate data, workflow, analytics, and user experience across multiple apps.
However, the real solutions to SaaS overload include:
- Consolidation and aggregation of some functionality: Some SaaS apps will become a feature or function in other apps. This is likely to happen to those apps that don’t have a critical mass of functionality or usage. For instance, think about how online cloud storage integrated itself into productivity apps like Google Drive and OneDrive, or how turn by turn directions were incorporated into Google Maps.
- Emergence of SaaS APIs: Some SaaS apps will need to become “headless APIs”. It’s a better way to be integrated into existing, widely-used experiences and workflows. There are already several examples of successful SaaS APIs. This is a more flexible experience for users as they can impose their own structure, custom design the output, dashboards, etc., and they are not limited by the functionality of the SaaS app.
- SaaS plus Data-as-a-Service: SaaS apps that include deep and rich data will become more valuable over time. The availability of very large data sets in SaaS apps will help take advantage of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics to help accelerate and make better business decisions. This scenario combines the best of all worlds. It comes with built-in value and then grows that value over time as the data and intelligence grow. Unwieldy data from various sources is brought together and provided with a structure.
As the SaaS market matures and consolidates, keep an eye out for these transitions.