Where is SaaS heading in 2016? While there’s no app, platform, or data crunch that can give us a totally accurate read on the next twelve months, we’ve got the next best thing: sharp insights from some of the most respected minds in the industry. When it comes to trends, it’s better to join them, then beat them (and not the other way around), so listen up and let the trendsetting begin.
The Practical: You Suspected It Was Going to Happen--And It Definitely Is
When you see a trend headed your way like a runaway train, it’s time to step off the tracks or hop on board. The internet is a-buzz with conversation about automation, mobile, and changing labor laws, all of which collide head-on with SaaS. Early in the year though it may be, it’s never too soon to start prepping for the changes ahead.
Rising minimum wages means an increase in automation across enterprises.
Hiring expenses are a major pain point for businesses large and small, which leaves one viable alternative for companies looking to tighten their belts: subscribe, don’t hire. SaaS companies providing viable alternatives to excess headcount will be very busy keeping up with demand in 2016. Like the self checkouts at grocery stores that we’ve all loathed and loved, SaaS that allows one employee to do the job of several will be widely embraced, especially by small businesses.
Mobile isn’t going anywhere.
The gold rush that is mobile shows no sign of stopping--but the most successful companies are learning how to stake their claim before somebody jumps it. Per Medium, the most successful SaaS companies cater to:
- Enterprises where the workforce doesn’t orbit the headquarters (think retail)
- Productivity tools
Mobile-first companies that compete in neither of these categories have traditionally struggled, but the times, they are a-changing. Apps like WhatsApp and Hipchat have morphed into full-fledged platforms, giving them a powerful advantage in their arena.
IT departments will undergo a reboot.
Remember when it used to take an in-house team of ten to solve the tech conundrum du jour? In a matter of months, you might not. According to Sonian, there are well over a thousand SaaS applications that can all be handled without having to ring the IT office downstairs. While IT isn’t going away any time soon, it is becoming leaner and more efficiency focused.
The Probable: Get Ready, Folks--It’s Coming Our Way
It’s hard to be a mover and shaker in the SaaS world without causing a little commotion in your commercial sphere. If these companies are any indication of what’s to come, exciting changes are ahead. Whether it’s how we view our relationship with customers (not to mention their data) or how the small guys are starting to respond to industry giants, there will be no resting on your laurels in 2016.
“Unbundled” products will sweep business from under the feet of traditional sales models.
When more becomes too much, the bottom line starts to sag. That’s why innovative SaaS companies like Clearbit are empowering customers to cherry-pick only what they need--and charging them accordingly. As the demand for solo products and add-ons increases, SaaS companies will have to adapt, or suffer the consequences.
Major SaaS successes will be displaced by small, hyper-specific ones.
Similar to the unbundling trend, SaaS products for ultra-niche businesses are growing (think Storemapper, for example), skirting competition with monoliths by tailoring their product to their customers’ exact needs. These “micro businesses” run lean and mean, flying under the radar and, when done well, turn an impressive profit.
Customer success will replace customer education.
Those with purchasing power don’t need convincing that SaaS is preferable to the alternative--so how do you market your product to an educated consumer base that already knows your features and selling points? All indicators point towards “customer success”--moving past awareness into the retention phase of the sales cycle--as the new sales weapon of choice.
The Prescient: Why Think About 2016 When You Should Be Thinking About 2026?
In tech, we constantly strive against a “faster horses” mentality, which is why it’s imperative to look at trends that will likely extend well beyond this year. (Maybe even this decade.) We might not know exactly what the future of SaaS holds, but we have a feeling it may look something like this.
Intuitive design will be crucially important.
In our increasingly app-driven world, there is little more important than the accessibility, utility, and intuitiveness of our products. SaaS is making its way well past corporate enterprises, right into the hands of a wealth of small and mid-sized business owners. Outstanding UI and UX design is more than a competitive edge--it’s a necessity.
SaaS companies must continue to disrupt, or die.
Let’s face it: the competition out there is tough. The good news is that forward-thinking and the ability to disrupt will always topple the big guys. If your business name isn’t the industry standard in your category, either invent a new category--or aim to solve the problems your customer base isn’t yet aware of.
Human connections will always trump internet connections.
As Business News Daily aptly observes, there is simply no business value greater than the human and emotive connections formed between company and consumer. The “human factor” is going to weigh heavily on tech businesses in 2016 with no signs of receding in the years to come. As SaaS works to make enterprises more efficient, safer, and more powerful, it’s the people behind the platform who are a company’s most important investment.
Keep up with upcoming SaaS trends by signing up for our podcast, The No SaaSHoles Show. New topics, upcoming trends, lesser-known SaaS hacks... All in one place. Subscirbe today!