Offshore Companies Can Launch Successful SAAS Products

In last 10 years, SAAS applications have disrupted traditional Enterprise Software Industry. It started with SalesForce, and the trend continues till this day. Here are some of the things that differentiate SAAS from Enterprise Software model:

  1. Variable Cost
  2. Efficiency with Scale
  3. Services (Instead of Product)

The list can go on-and-on. Numerous articles have been written about why SAAS works better than the traditional Enterprise Software. In this article, I would like to mention one aspect which is sometimes overlooked.

Traditional Enterprise Software companies require a large “Sales Force” to schmooze customers for annual license (and maintenance) contracts. Selling Enterprise software requires “connections” in the industry. This is a competitive advantage that deters most new entrants from launching their competitive Software products.

Alternatively, Most SAAS products acquire their customers using their online e-commerce portal. Since customer acquisition happens online, traditional competitive advantage (“connections in the industry”) does not work here. Instead, now the customers can try multiple products simultaneously and pick the best one that suits them the most. “Technical Prowess” and “Quality of Customer Support” become the new competitive advantages.

Since “Technical Prowess” and “Quality of Customer Support” become the key differentiating factors, any company that can provide high quality on these 2 parameters has a good chance of success. Interesting point is that these 2 parameters can be executed remotely! This brings Global teams into the picture. A team sitting in India or Philippines or Brazil can deliver high quality Technology and Customer support. They do not require Sales foot-soldiers in the US to gain US customers. More importantly, these teams can do it at a better RoI (Return on Investment).

We are seeing this trend at a fast pace. SalesForce is continuously challenged by their Indian competitor, Zoho. Zendesk is challenged by its Indian competitor, Freshdesk. Olark has a powerful competitor in ZopIM. Browserstack (based in India) is the best SAAS based testing platform.

The list goes on!


New features for Job-boards

Job-boards have made good changes in the past 5 years but still a lot can be done to improve the experience of recruiters and the users.

Here are 5 good-to-have features for current (or new) job-board companies:

1. Resume hosting service: This will be like data hosting service where the user’s resume will be viewable online. There can be 2 versions of it, leading to 2 revenue streams from this feature: (1) The company can hide “contact info” and therefore the recruiters will have to pay to view the contact info. (2) Users can pay some amount and make their complete resume “viewable”. Yes, LinkedIn has resume..but thats very “primitive”. Users should be able to upload the files, or use templates to change the display.

2. Ranking: User should be able to view his ranking vis-a-vis other applicants for the position. For example, if I apply for a job “A”, then I should be able to know how many other applicants have applied and where do I stand vis-a-vis them in experience, education, and other comparable attributes.

3. Feedback Box: As an applicant, I want to prepare myself for the upcoming interview. Feedback from other applicants who applied for the position(s) in the company would help me understand the recruitment process of the company. I will be able to identify beforehand what qualities are being sought for that position…and this in turn will enable me display my best qualities during the interview. Feedback could be kept anonymous..or it could be paid service..but it depends on the implementation.

4. Connections: I have friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, Orkut, Email-addressbook. When I am looking for a job, I need help from anywhere. LinkedIn does a good job of “referral”. But the same concept can be extended to Email, Facebook etc. Job-boards should be able to find which people can refer to me in a company based on my email connections and facebook connections.

5. Preemptive recommendation:  Job-boards should reach out to users who are currently “employed” and are “not actively looking” with suggestive new positions that enhances their career growth. This is different from simple email that currently companies do. They should be like online “career consultants” who keep track of my career and give me timely suggestions about what skills I should acquire to grow in next few months.


Next innovation in Group buying

Groupon is the undisputed king of group buying wave that has hit the internet recently. A lot o clones have popped up, including some aggregators, and I was thinking about some additional “group buying” ideas.

Lets do a quick SWOT analysis for Groupon:

Strengths: Brand, First-mover-advantage, Good financial backing, scale, good customer satisfaction

Weakness: Low barriers to entry, Low switching cost for users, Limited revenue (1 sale/day/city)

Opportunities: Build barriers to Entry, Make Groups, Develop features to increase the switching cost, Diversify into commenting (like Yelp), Diversify into Local advertising (or branding)

Threats: Multiple competitors, Niche competitors, Yelp could be a competitor (with groupon type feature), Expansion beyond a threshhold is not scalable

I am looking at opportunities, and it leads me to think about a new product/website/feature:

1. Let people start making groups around local businesses

2. If the group reaches a limit, then the local business gives discount (50%)

3. It will be time bound-as well as-number bound (maximum 50)

4. Multiple groups can be formed at the same time.

So, this will be a pull-based mechanism rather than groupon’s push-based sale. It could be quickly implemented as a Facebook app. Lets see how people react to this.

What do you think about this product? If interested, then let me know if you want to discuss more about it. There are some other salient features that will make it a compelling product.


New frontiers

Few days ago I was thinking about how the technology has evolved in the past several years. Maybe we are witnessing the fastest growth in innovation since the invention of wheel OR the discovery of gravity.

Focusing primarily on the technology sector, let us revisit the path that the industry (and its main players) have taken. History teaches a lot of lessons. So, the history of personal computing (technology) can throw some light about the current trends (and possibly future trends).

Lets start with the grand-daddy: IBM.

Several years ago (before I was born), there was a company named International Business Machine (IBM). They made big machines (mainframes) which were very succesful. The company kept on focusing on making bigger and more powerful machines. They closed themselves from the changing market dynamics and lost to the “new trends” (at that time): The PC revolution.

Enter Microsoft. The big 800 pound gorilla of the PC age was hugely succesful (and it still is, and so is IBM) in the 90s. It beat IBM hands on but (because History repeats itself) it made the same mistake as IBM did. It kept its focus on the PC (remember those attempts to make PC as the hub in peoples’ living rooms) and missed the Internet revolution. Yes, I know that they have Hotmail, MSN (and what not), but hey..they are not Google.

Enter Google. This one of the fastest growing company is the 800 pound gorilla of the Internet age. It weathered the DOT com burst, and has almost single handedly captured the most lucrative marketing/advertising business on Internet. But as we speak, history is repeating itself. Google is the master in searching information on the Internet and has pushed the envelope few times(remember indexing all books in the world), but it is missing the key changes that are happening outside of its domain. It is a very smart company (and so were IBM & Microsoft) but it is bound to make its own mistakes and has to give way to the new company that will ride the new trend.

So, what is the new trend that Google is missing and that will lead to some other company getting the crown?

Enter “Real time web”. Internet is changing very fast (exponentially). There is so much information out there that even big-monster companies like Google and Yahoo can not index all information every day/hour. And if you look closely, then this is the most important information (most of the times) for a lot of people. Does it matter what happened 10 years ago in my town? Ofcourse it does. But does it matter more what happened today in my town? Absolutely. Does it matter what “my friend” said to me 10 years ago? No (maybe yes sometimes). But does it matter what “my friend” said to me “today”. Absolutely. (Maybe no sometimes 🙂 But you got what I am trying to communicate. Its the realtime web that is gaining more and more traction (and importance), and Google (and Yahoo as well) are missing it. It is by virtue of their strength (Ability to search & index the whole internet) that they are missing out on the new trends.

Real time web is drawing new frontiers in the technology sector. Sooner or later, new companies (or solutions) are bound to come forward and take the lead. Only future will tell us the dimensions of that leader, but some core features could be: blogging, communities, communication, and openness. Some key players to watch might be: Twitter, Facebook, and Widget companies. It will be interesting to watch their revolution.