In 2019, SaaS applications continued to grow in popularity because of their scalability, ease-of-use, rich feature sets, and no need to rely on installing and running servers. When coupled with the fact that SaaS applications make it easier for employees to collaborate and do their jobs, it’s no wonder that the SaaS market is projected to be worth more than $120 billion in 2020.
After working closely throughout 2019 with customers across every industry and identifying their most pressing SaaS application management needs, here are four of my predictions for the world of SaaS applications in 2020.
100% SaaS companies will no longer be an outlier
In 2019, there are companies (primarily in the technology industry) that are already 100% SaaS. These companies were born in the cloud, and in many cases were built to displace legacy technologies, which informed their software purchasing decisions. For example, they selected G Suite because it was much easier to operate than traditional, on-premises office applications, or selected Box because collaborating was easier and more cost-effective than with an on-premises server.
In 2020, we will see more of this, especially as generational changes continue to transform the workplace with leaders who ‘grew up’ with SaaS or started their careers in SaaS-first companies. Additionally, with the rise in SaaS-only companies, we will see more of them looking at how their employees are using SaaS. Before, IT leaders just wanted to know if employees were using specific applications. In 2020, the conversation will shift more toward how they are using these applications to get their work done and how business technology leaders can replicate that productivity across their entire workplace.
Acceptance of app sprawl means the death of the spreadsheet
App sprawl has always been an issue, as there are constantly new applications popping up that solve new business problems. The SaaS go-to-market model, where vendors market directly to business units and even sometimes to individual employees has exacerbated this.
In 2020, enterprises will begin to think about solving the app sprawl problem organizationally vs. individually, looking at how the broader organization interacts with and uses SaaS applications. By analyzing employee engagement with applications, enterprises can identify cost savings, align the number of SaaS application licenses with the number of engaged users and optimize their application portfolio. This approach can save enterprises as much as 30% in costs – and that doesn’t even take into account the time otherwise spent managing perpetually incomplete spreadsheets and conducting surveys to measure application engagement and redundancy.
The new role of the CIO in the age of productivity
As more companies standardize on SaaS, IT will continue to evolve more into a proactive business partner vs. a reactive service provider. The IT organizations of yesterday weren’t called ‘help desks’ for no reason — IT was a place where people went when the software that they were provided wasn’t working. But the SaaS go-to-market model has upended this, and SaaS vendors now market directly to business units and end users. Because of this, when these business units or end users select SaaS applications, IT needs to partner with them to make sure that the SaaS application will work in the context of the business’ broader IT objectives and goals.
The employee experience will be as important as the customer experience
There’s been a rise in marketing owning the customer experience, but more businesses are starting to focus on the employee experience. In many organizations, the CIO owns the employee experience. In 2020, we’ll see more businesses placing the same focus that they put on their customer experience back on their employees — and this will foster collaboration and increase productivity. Progressive business technology leaders care about the employee experience, because they want to empower their employees with good technologies to help get the ‘lower level stuff’ done, freeing people to pursue more strategic business goals.