It’s been a rather productive week with three user meetings and lots of new information to dissect. Interesting that the three I attended — SAS, Sugar and NetSuite — all hung together thematically. All made announcements that were either social or SaaS related or both.
SAS introduced a hosted social media analytics application, which, I think will be valuable for its larger customers who have many products and many customers. Sugar, a SaaS open source CRM provider held its tenth and largest user meeting and showed that it is a viable competitor for conventional and SaaS solutions. And NetSuite showed that it is making headway bringing SaaS to the back office.
I’ve had my doubts about being able to crack the back office with SaaS because of entrenched attitudes about where data is stored and similar concerns. But my thinking is now more aligned with the idea that the back office’s trajectory is simply a couple of years behind the front office. The old arguments about SaaS that first surfaced in the front office and that were put down appear to have new life in the back office but I fully believe those old ideas will be overcome simply because SaaS really does provide a better solution.
In social analytics, SAS isn’t the first company to jump in but it does offer some advanced number crunching and in my view it’s the number crunching engine that matters, not the specific application. You can improve a UI or an application but without the engine you won’t be successful. SAS appears to have a good handle on how to how to make its customers successful and they will make it successful too.
Sugar is making progress and if it continues to execute it will do well. I get concerned though when I see hybrid products emerging that let users go with SaaS or stay with a conventional behind the wall approach. I’d like to think that this can be a halfway step that in time will let customers migrate to SaaS on their terms. The problem I see is that these hybrid systems will be modified by every customer and without a multi-tenant architecture, the migration to the cloud will never come. It remains to be seen how this will play out so Sugar will be on my watch list.
Many thanks to all who helped me along the way this week. Monday I will be back at the desk writing a book and other fun activities. Over and out.