Customer Support and SaaS

Customer Support and SaaS

Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:00 Written by
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SaaS will disrupt the conventional software business model in many ways but the most profound change is already unfolding in the way implementation and support is addressed by the leading pure-play SaaS vendors. It marks the end of the era of expensive and lengthy implementations and prohibitive recurring support/AMCs.

For decades the software product business has been a three player game. The ISV or the software vendor, the implementation and support partner and the hardware and Middleware vendors. It is a symbiotic relationship in which the customer has been squeezed by each player with little choices. Each owes its business to the other and when one releases a new product, the other work in tandem to force the customer to spend again and again on costly upgrades.

The other dimension of this is the large "services" component required in making an enterprise business application work for a customer. Armies of expensive resources from business analysts to functional consultants and solution architects get involved in installing and making the solution to work for the customer. But skilled people are always in short supply and come at rising costs. This only ensures that there is at least one significant element of the technology solution whose cost curve moves up unlike the conventional downward cost curve of hardware and software.

 

Complexity = Expensive

This complexity and need for services is the reason implementation and support vendors love big ERPs (can you imagine how much commercial interest a one week one person project would elicit in an Accenture or an Infosys!!). This ensures that software vendors have very little incentive to change things. But the fallout of this is that enterprise applications remain complex and expensive and so out of reach of most SMBs.

At EmployWise we see an opportunity to change this with our SaaS business model. We have taken the hardware, middleware and implementation vendor out of the equation for our customers. There is no hardware and middleware involved at all. We also have very little interest in creating complexity so someone else can charge to make it work for our customer.

Killing the Golden Goose!

We decided to commit what to most appears a financial "harakiri" by considering support as a cost rather than a revenue activity. After all as much as 60% of a typical on-premise software vendor's revenues come from services.

Usability, not Training

At EmployWise we believe that products should be engineered with usability at the core. Our challenge in product development is to make EmployWise a product so easy, so simple that a customer should not hesitate to set it up and use it without the help of any "specialist". After all we all buy a car and drive it away in spite of the huge technological complexity of its engineering and the huge number of features it has.

Are we there with the product? perhaps not. Admittedly it is also a moving target. But we decided to put our money behind what we believe and therefore we provide an optional implementation that is a nominal fixed charge and a customer support that is completely free of charge. After all no customer wants to waste their time in taking support. They only ask for support when they need it and it is our job to make sure we give them a product they can use without needing any support.

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