Ramana Mulpury writes: “A few years ago, if you asked anyone at an emerging software company whether ASP/SaaS/On-Demand (referred to as ASP) solutions were for real, you would probably get a 50/50 response. Over the last year or so, Ive been seeing a completely different scale of adoption of ASP solutions. This scale of adoption can only mean one thing SaaS is here to stay. Not only that, small, mid-sized businesses, departments of large enterprises, and to some extent entire enterprises, are clearly embracing ASP solutions today.”

Enterprise Software Mirroring Home Usage

Barrons’s writes: “Ted Schlein was making the point that enterprise software will increasingly look like what consumers do at home. He notes that the two enterprise applications he uses the most are e-mail and Google. Look for examples of software that mimic what consumers do at home and do it within the enterprise, he says. Corporate directories of the future will look like MySpace. College grads of the future, he says, are not going to want to use the dull enterprise applications now is use.”

Community 2.0

John Hagel writes about communities, ten years after he wrote “Net Gain.”

In reflecting on the experiences accumulated to date by companies seeking to build virtual communities, Id like to focus on four challenges:
1. Language
2. Integrating diverse skill sets
3. Shifting mindsets
4. Organizational barriers

Companies need virtual communities in order to successfully respond to growing pressure on performance coming from two directions simultaneously customers and talent.

SAP and SaaS

ZDNet writes:

[Hasso] Plattner’s description of the next-generation, on demand business suite was similar in many ways to what has developed over the last eight years with its applications, platform and ecosystem, and what PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield is creating at Workday.

SAP is late to the on demand game, but has been working over the last three years on A1S to catch up. Plattner said that SAP’s A1S on demand offering will be broader than or Workday, covering the entire business suite and different industries. In that context it sounds closer to NetSuite in covering the entire spectrum of core business applications, but SAP has the advantage of deep expertise across industry verticals, a set of more than 2000 enterprise services and a large war chest for marketing the products and services. Plattner views SAP’s role as spawning an ecosystem of innovation and serving as the primary trusted partner to customers.

Software 2007

Tali Aben writes about the recently concluded conference:

SAP: Hasso Plattners key message: not only small companies can innovate. As he presented SAPs new offering for SMBs, what I heard was not innovation but rather catch-up. Sorry however, its still impressive (since often, large companies cant do that either), but SOA, On-Demand, Collaboration, Community, Standards, etc. are themes weve been hearing about for quite some time. Marc Benioff is a great presenter. During his session, I kept thinking of my Israeli entrepreneurs why cant they speak like him! He reminded all of us that was a catalyst for change in the software industry. Very true. Initially, the users were SMBs, but now, thats not the case anymore. Marc then went to pitch a new platform that will allow anybody to create and then run new applications on top of this platform, empowering users and ISVs to build next generation apps. This company is moving beyond just being a single application, to providing a platform, with multiple applications. Sounds like a familiar strategy. perhaps, they should rethink the name of the company

Web-based Collaboration Tools

Forbes writes about nine such tools, and adds a cautionary note: “Bear in mind before you jump in that you’re giving information to a third-party company to store. If you’re not in IT, you should talk to the IT department to be sure you’re not violating company policy by using these services. And, even if you’re in IT, before you use these services, you should talk to your company’s legal and compliance offices to be sure you’re obeying the law and regulations with regard to managing company’s information.”

Google Apps

The New York Times writes:

On Thursday, Google, the Internet search giant, will unveil a package of communications and productivity software aimed at businesses, which overwhelmingly rely on Microsoft products for those functions.

The package, called Google Apps, combines two sets of previously available software bundles. One included programs for e-mail, instant messaging, calendars and Web page creation; the other, called Docs and Spreadsheets, included programs to read and edit documents created with Microsoft Word and Excel, the mainstays of Microsoft Office, an $11 billion annual franchise.

The e-mail and messaging package, which is based on products like Gmail, Googles e-mail service, has been available in a free trial since August and is supported by advertising. It has been used by thousands of businesses, educational institutions and other organizations, Google said.

SaaS Opportunity

Sramana Mitra writes:

Last Fall, I wrote a widely read piece called Venture Capital in India, in which I pegged the Indian venture boom to be largely in Real Estate, Retail, and to an extent in Consumer Internet, not much in actual technology.

Last week, Sujai Karampuri made a well researched case for technology product companies in India.

In the recently concluded Philippe Courtot interview series, we discussed at length the various ways in which India and China could undercut US companies, and Philippe acknowledged that in his business (Qualys is an outsourced managed security service provider, a SaaS play), it is quite possible that an Indian company could come up with a vastly lower cost structure, and customers would switch immediately, if they are convinced about the reliability of the service.

Just to set the economics in perspective, Qualys has invested $65 Million to build an infrastructure that “is at the scale of the planet” to monitor, audit and report network security problems.

Let me throw a challenge in the direction of the Indian entrepreneurs: Go figure out how to build this same business for $30 Million, and I can tell you, you will have an absolute winner in your hands.

ps. You can read the Courtot interview here:

[Part 1]
[Part 2]
[Part 3]
[Part 4]
[Part 5]
[Part 6]
[Part 7]
[Part 8]
[Part 9]
[Part 10]
[Part 11]

Social Enterprise

Bambi Francisco discusses the future of the workplace in the context of the MySpace generation:

I imagine that this college student’s future corporate life will be as Web 2.0 as his consumer life is now — an egalitarian world in which everyone contributes, opines, votes, connects, shares and collaborates instantly.

For instance, by the time he starts receiving corporate memos, he may feel it’s his right to immediately post a comment or edit every one he reads, even if it’s an internal memo to employees from his CEO. He may also think that he has a say in voting on whether the memo should receive a thumbs up or thumbs down. Imagine a note to employees from future CEOs with links at the bottom that says “comments” and “ratings,” and, dare I say, “edit.” Talk about making higher-ups feel accountable, and out of control.

Need for SaaS Platform

Will Price writes:

One can only hope some form of platform infrastructure emerges to accelerate SaaS companies development. If not, the merits of SaaS will be challenged by the time, capital intensity, and delayed profitability of the model. Platform companies Powersoft/Sybase, ORCL, MSFT drove down the costs of building client/server application companies. The industry needs the SaaS analogs to unleash the power of the model at the cost optimal level.

A simple analysis holds that Fixed Costs/Gross Margin = breakeven revenue. While for SaaS this is a somewhat circular calculation (as in SaaS fixed costs are amortized into COGS), the rise of platforms will drive down fixed and allow SaaS companies to reduce capital required to get to scale. Fixed costs must be reduced in order to unleash the full power of the model and the rise of platforms will reduce the bespoke investments historically required to build SaaS companies.