Having been at the forefront of the SaaS explosion, we believed early on that there had to be a better way to deliver software than traditional on-premise deployments. No one, not even the analysts, knew what to call SaaS back then, but everyone knew that “less expensive” was better, “faster” was better, “configuration” was easier than writing code, and “the cloud” was changing the way we would connect apps to people. SaaS, like all successful software advancements, followed the pattern of removing complexity from software and allowing less experienced resources to more effectively deploy and use applications.
Traditional SaaS: Fast, Comprehensive and Custom….Pick Two
Traditionally, software choices have been bound by three parameters: Speed of deployment, comprehensiveness of functionality, and customization of user experiences. The problem is that you could only pick two of those parameters. SaaS is comprehensive and fast, but you forego customization. On-premise is comprehensive and can be customized, but it’s not fast to deploy. And you can build a custom app fast, but it won’t be comprehensive.
Our experience has taught us that SaaS is a great way to deliver comprehensive, highly verticalized user experiences and do it fast. That’s why SaaS is such a great model and why most software is moving there today. But what if you could take all the great benefits of SaaS and somehow add customization? We started asking ourselves that question about three years ago. If you could do that, you could break the bonds of traditional software and obtain speed, comprehensiveness, AND customization simultaneously. Answering that question is what led us to our commerce platform Four51 OrderCloud. Similar thinking by other platform companies like Twillio in telecom, Contentful in CMS, and Clearbit in business intelligence are beginning to redefine how apps are delivered and are ushering in a new generation of custom SaaS applications.
The Future of SaaS: Fast, Comprehensive AND Custom
Much like the early days of SaaS, no one knows what to call this next generation of software. Some call it “API-First” or “PaaS” or “Headless Platforms” or “API-Based SaaS”. No matter what name it’s ultimately given, it is characterized by allowing the creation of custom SaaS applications at a fraction of the time and cost of any previous method. It provides speed AND comprehensiveness AND customization. And when packaged with its own starter applications, built-in toolsets, and open source component libraries, it makes software more accessible, easier to deploy, and easier to customize than ever before. It’s the future of SaaS. And it’s here today.