SaaScon, the software-as-a-service conference wrapped up yesterday, and bloggers have contributed several interesting posts. SaaSWeek noted that industry experts estimated the SaaS market would grow an average of 20 percent per year until at least 2010—while quoting Bill McNee, founder and chief executive officer for Saugatuck Technology, as saying. “On the one hand, that is a $20-25 billion market. But on a relative scale, our large enterprise software vendors are not going to go away and are not intimidated with this stuff.” Amy Wohl cites IBM VP of SaaS Rick McGee’s comment that “SaaS gained irrevocable prominence in the marketplace, based in part on the support for SaaS by important vendors like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft, all of whom have SaaS initiatives now and are expected to have more in the future.”
But perhaps most interesting was ZDNet blogger Phil Wainewright’s post about a session entitled “The Skeptical CIO.” According to Wainewright, the CIOs participating in the session “agree that most of the claims vendors make for SaaS are outlandish”—the claims being ease of implementation, ability to switch vendors, lower costs, and the idea that SaaS vendors are “partners in achieving business results.”
I, for one, am glad not all CIOs are this skeptical. Otherwise SaaS, which I believe will eventually be the dominate software delivery model, wouldn’t have a chance, nor would hosted, on-demand infrastructure (disclosure: Eastwick has several clients with hosted services). Besides, if it were left to the skeptics, computers themselves would have been an interesting experiment but more trouble than they were worth.
Still, developing trust is key to the relationship between sellers and buyers, and to move new technologies beyond early adopters and overcome the skeptics, smart organizations must turn claims into reality through the constant application of customer applications stories—as is the case now with SaaS and on-demand infrastructure. Is it possible for vendors to withhold every “outlandish” claim until a customer can validate it? No, otherwise those early adopters would be hard to come by. But it may be possible for the claims not to gain the frequency and volume of seeming truth without this validation, which would build confidence and make the truth easier to discern.