I’ve been watching for some time the growth of cloud computing, and particularly the model of delivering software as a service (SaaS). But despite the name, in reality it is not software that is being delivered at all, but a business service. Unfortunately ‘service-as-a-service’ doesn’t really make that much sense …
If you look at what SaaS customers are buying, it is not software. Salesforce.com customers are buying a better way to manage their customers. NetSuite clients are buying a better way to manage their overall organisations. And so on, right down the line of SaaS companies. Very few purchasers have any desire to buy software at all – indeed, that is one of the benefits of the ( unfortunately named) SaaS model.
For services businesses then, it is important that they start looking at what they really offer, and which components can be delivered in a SaaS model. Because if they don’t, someone else will. In many cases of course a service still requires a physical delivery – waiters that bring your food in a catering service, etc. But for many others, like call centres, the real value is in the underlying systems that make them work – everything else is just a matter of training and monitoring. Even a catering firm these days is reliant on software systems for customer management, staffing, ordering, invoicing etc.
This is what IPscape realised when it developed its SaaS-based call centre application. It delivers the call centre across the Internet – all its clients need is a web connection and a trained call centre agent.
The beauty of the model is that it is easy to sell and support into foreign markets. There is no product to ship, and as the software is centrally hosted it is easy to maintain. Indeed, the cloud model is a service exporter’s dream.
The model is especially relevant in fast-growing Asian markets, where there is less baggage to be overcome in terms of client’s familiarity with older models of computing. As Internet speeds across Asia improve it is likely that many companies will leapfrog a generation of technology and go straight to the cloud.
That presents a massive opportunity for companies like IPscape, or any service provider which realises that its future lies in the cloud. IPScape has also chosen to work with Telstra to accelerate its Asian strategy, as I described in this story for The Australian published late last year.