Some years ago, SaaS brought in a wave of new cloud services, which effectively took small slices of existing enterprise solutions and moved them to the cloud, moved them to a subscription model etc. Some people refer to this as the “gold rush” of the SaaS world, with little innovation required in the actual solution (other than moving it to the cloud). Easy money, right? Well, not exactly… there’s no such thing as “easy money” when you’re building a business, but you could certainly argue that many businesses at this time weren’t really thinking about the core problem their product was solving.
Now today we live in this space with a LOT of these small, tailored SaaS solutions which each solve a very specific problem. Each of them is valuable in their own right, but they do present a few problems when you look at the whole picture:
- I have to maintain accounts in a large number of different services, and give my data to a wide range of different businesses, which is likely hosted all across the world
- These separate systems don’t really talk to each other, and it’s difficult to provide a higher-level optimization and intelligence to the solutions, because they don’t have the whole picture.
Based on this there’s talk of moving towards a more “consolidated” world, with a new era of one-stop-shop SaaS products emerging which solve most problems within a space, all under one roof. For example, what if I had just ONE marketing tool to manage all of my marketing activities? The thing is, this consolidated world hasn’t appeared yet, and there’s no sign of it really arriving any time soon.
What I think we’re more likely to see (and there is plenty of evidence of this) is SaaS solutions which still offer a fairly narrow solution themselves, but at the same time offer a level of “platform” functionality that we haven’t seen in the past. Integrations, APIs and plugins are a huge part of this shift, and we’re seeing plenty of SaaS products offering such features. This means that products can talk to each other, build on the existing data and be intelligently automated and proactive.
Products like Clearbit (which we use at ChartMogul) effectively offer a building block that you can integrate and use in a wider solution. Clearbit by itself offers little value as a standalone product — it’s API-only, and the value is in its data. But when integrated into a platform, it can revolutionize the way you leverage data for your users.
At ChartMogul, we understand that a large part of the future of SaaS is in open, extensible platforms — and for this reason we’ve launched a set of APIs, integrations and developer libraries to make it as easy as possible for others to build on and extend our product.
Continue reading this (and input from SaaS thought leaders) at Prowly.