Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

or 'How to aSaaSinate your Business' (part 1)

BizEye Technologies, the well-recognized leader in enterprise Business Intelligence software, has been considering developing an on-demand version of its application. Software-as-a-service is recognized as the latest and most disruptive industry trend; BizEye feared that if they were not involved in its adoption, they could become irrelevant.

Diane, the VP Product Marketing took a special interest in this new area, especially after many customers started inquiring about a SaaS offering by BizEye. After reading a number of articles and attending two conferences, Diane became a champion of SaaS within the company and assigned Curt, Director of Product Marketing to explore this opportunity and evaluate the marketplace and the costs & opportunities associated with developing the SaaS application. The initial evaluation looked good and Curt quickly became an advocate himself of the on-demand model. There were interested customers and a whole new market of SMBs to target. A simple calculation indicated that the operation will break even on the fifteenth customer.

Diane presented the business case to Sanjib, founder and CEO of BizEye. Snajib knew that sooner or later BizEye would need to face the question of SaaS. He therefore approved a small budget for an on-demand pilot project. Curt was assigned to lead this initiative. He assembled a task force of professionals from IT, Customer Service and R&D. They selected one of company’s products, the Analytics and Reporting tool, as a pilot project; a proof of concept.

As the software was not built on a multi-tenant architecture, and did not recognize a ‘Customer’ entity, the pilot was built as a dedicated architecture solution. This was not viewed as a problem, since there were only six customers that signed up, and it was a temporary solution anyway. The customers were extremely happy: Time-to-value was reduced from many months to a couple of weeks, and each customer was assigned a named account manager that was pouring love and attention on them. Every need was immediately handled, and all one had to do to add more users or tweak a report, was to call the account manager and the task was taken care of within the day.
Diane reported to Sanjib that the pilot was going fine and the customers are ecstatic about the service. She managed to secure another budget to build a small operations team to support the solution and the customers.

As “temporary” solutions go, a business was growing around this offering. More customers were added, as word-of-mouth spread on the first-class service they were getting. Curt, now Director of SaaS Operations, was eager to add more clients as the concept was proving to be a successful one, though not quite yet profitable. The future looked sweet.

To be continued...

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