SaaSing Back — Maybe it should be Service as a Software.

Sometimes I struggle to explain what exactly we do at Snapdocs. There is the literal answer. And while that lays out the specifics, where I struggle is in describing what type of company we are.

The reflexive answer would be to say that we do SaaS (i.e. Software as a Service). I suspect that this is shallow pattern-matching. We code & design & host software, our customers pay us more-or-less monthly, thus SaaS.

The simplest definition of SaaS, I think, is the on-going payment of ever-improving software. You pay Salesforce to use their software to track sales leads. You pay Google so that your employees can use white-labeled gmail. To oversimplify, you pay X company for the unique way in which they manipulate Y bits of data.

Doing this as an ongoing arrangement instead of a one-off purchase has benefits. For users, bugs get fixed and vulnerabilities get patched. For software companies, it’s paychecks for days.

However, what if software is coupled with a real world service? What if the line between “software” and a “non-software service” is increasingly blurred?

The other night a Lyft driver said something clarifying.

“I have no manager,” he told me. “No boss. No scheduler. It’s software.”

And so I wondered, what if the driver and I were both participating in a variation of a SaaS model? In the same way that I might use Photoshop to manipulate a photo, I’m using Lyft to summon a driver.

I use the vernacular of an app (“I’m paying Lyft for a ride home”) to describe what could just as accurately be described in SaaS terms, (“I’m paying a 20% licensing fee to use this software to find a driver.”)

My working theory is that any company with a sufficiently automated internal process could be described as SaaS, which is to say, Service as a Software.

But so… what do you do with this knowledge? My thought is that it should help set product direction. Rather than asking how to improve our software, we should focus on how to improve service.

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