What is a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)?
A SaaS (software-as-a-service) means software as a service. It's basically a software often distributed as a web platform and hosted by the publisher. Unlike applications and softwares that require installation on a computer and a licence key to operate, SaaS is instantly accessible online with a simple registration.
SaaS is therefore part of a specific commercial strategy and distribution model. Most often, the business model for a SaaS is a freemium model or a monthly or annual subscription model.
Is distributing a SaaS or a web platform necessary for your business growth?
Asking this question is the first thing to do. What will I offer my customers' end users with my software? What are my goals with this software? What is the return on investment for my company and my customers?
There are several types of platform/SaaS :
- Services: Offering a specific type of service to your customers, for example a digitisation of a service that you offer in a material way and that can be transformed into a virtual process. (Example: Netflix started by sending DVDs by mail and then they virtualised the service by offering a video-on-demand platform with a subscription).
- Utilities: A SaaS utility for your customers can be the acceleration or automation of complex processes with industry-specific data processing and display. (Example: SpaceiD, a Belgian company, hired Quop to speed up the process of creating reports that display data to assist in decision-making for their customers).
If you offer a service that proves to be virtually possible or a utility product whose added value lies in speeding up processes or automating tasks for your customers, developing and distributing a SaaS or web platform may prove to be an significant asset to the digitisation of your company.
What are the benefits of distributing a SaaS for your company and your customers?
The benefits are distinguishable between your users or customers and the direct and indirect contribution to your business.
Benefits for your customers' users
SaaS customers are very open to the use of SaaS instead of a permanent acquisition of a software.
The direct benefits for your customers:
- Features determined by the subscription plan;
- Instant access to the platform and use without installation for the end user;
- Software constantly updated without waiting for an annual product version;
- Shifting the cost of support to the SaaS vendor;
Benefits for your company
If the answer to "Distributing SaaS is necessary for your growth" is yes, then all the benefits below are valid:
- Accelerated time to market: by distributing a SaaS, you ensure that you have short development cycles and therefore a much faster time to market for a higher version of your software;
- Rapid revenue increase: once SaaS and major functionalities are in place, revenues increase proportionally to the acquisition of your customers.
- Continuous improvement: regular user testing allows you to detect flaws or particular expectations of your SaaS users. You continuously improve your software while increasing customer satisfaction;
- Retention and loyalty: by offering the right business model and continuously improving your software, you offer an experience that refines over time and increases in quality. You build customer loyalty and your customers will attend and participate in the product improvement;
- Acquisition: the right business model (freemium or subscription at the right price) favours the acquisition of new users and therefore potential customers;
The benefits of distributing a SaaS to your customers gives a real strategic advantage to the company (SME or large company) that can be summarised as follows: Increase awareness, better target niches, generate quick revenue by attracting the audience, reduce costs by eliminating intermediaries. It is also an excellent way to foster collaboration and innovation within company teams.
10 examples of SaaS or European platforms
SaaS are numerous today and are products that offer more and more to facilitate the operations of certain niches:
- Slite: Slite is a SaaS offering a shared space for documentation and collaboration between teams.
- CitizenLab: With the idea of a more direct democracy, CitizenLab, a Brussels startup in civic tech, offers a platform for citizen participation and consultation.
- iBanFirst: Platform offers various financial services to companies.
- Apicbase.com: SaaS that allows restaurant owners to centralise recipes, menus, food costs, stocks, orders and sales analysis in a single dashboard.
- Realo: Marketplace in real estate. The platform offers properties to buy or rent, providing access to ads enriched with local data and social content.
- Influo: An intermediation platform that allows brands and agencies to find influencers and creatives.
- CentralApp: A platform that offers local companies the opportunity to take back control of their online referencing, their e-reputation and to put a website online.
- Workero: Workero is a platform that enables mobility and interaction between companies and workers.
- Skwarel: Skwarel is a SaaS that facilitates exchanges and collaboration with the accountants' clients. The platform enables the harmonisation and automation of processes and certain tasks.
The platforms and the SaaS are now on the market and offer many services and allow an acceleration or rationalisation of certain processes that have become complex.
The opportunity that SaaS gives to companies and their customers today allows an acceleration of the digital transformation with benefits of growth, acquisition of new customers and retention of your existing customers.