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SaaS and the Rise of Self-Serve Enterprise – A Mentza Session

Link to podcast: Listen here.

Rohit: Hi Achyuth, hi everybody, thanks for joining this live conversation. 

I want to give you a little bit of a quick introduction to myself and the channel.   

What we’re trying to do here, look, SaaS, everybody knows is Software As A Service. There is a new movement in the SaaS room called PLG which is product-led growth. And how companies want to grow the 1st $100 million of their funnel. There’s a different kind of thinking in enterprise software, in all kinds of software today, and our goal is to explore the trends and the things that you need to do to get that marketing right. So, thanks everybody for joining. That’s a quick context.  

Anurag, That goes to the question that you were asking about what this PLG thing is in terms of product-led growth.  

Anurag: Yes, absolutely. 

Rohit: Are there any SaaS speakers over here who run a SaaS company?  

I mean, I’m curious because if you want to come in and talk a little bit about what your product does and what kind of an onboarding or anything else you have in your company, I’d be curious to hear that.  

While you decide to join, the one topic, Anurag, that comes to me quite often is, hey! What is this Self-serve enterprise? What is going on in the self-serve world right?  

What I was going to talk about is how the world order in terms of self-service is increasing and the underlying trend that I see is more and more software is being offered in software as a service model. What do you think about this whole thing?  

Anurag: Absolutely I think SaaS and PaaS and everything else is the norm now, right? Nobody is investing in bottom-up or, you know, products and services. So yeah, happy to learn a lot more, so I’m not an expert on either of those things. I might be a user of those services but let’s learn from your end.  

Rohit: Yeah, the one thing that I want to talk about is, we’ve talked a lot about the evolution of SaaS. What I continue to see is how much of a revolution it has been, both as a business model and the way it has impacted marketing. When I say marketing because Sales and marketing are merging. Because of the way the software is being offered as a SaaS.  

The one thing is there’s a huge distribution of B2B software because of SaaS and the power of networks. That is one thing that I see as a huge change and what has happened to a modern enterprise company.  

So, everybody from the likes of the biggies like Oracle are repackaging all of their software for a cloud delivery model with a subscription model? They’re going away from the traditional package enterprise license model, right?  

So, if the Software can be delivered over the network. Can the sales and the marketing models change? And I think that is one of the evolutions that is also changing. 

(Aswani Katragadda is invited to speak)    

Aswani: Hey hi Rohit. A very good morning and very good morning to all the folks who all are there on the call. So, I just joined a bit late but however, I was just listening to how he was trying to tell how everybody is moving to software as a service model and it holds very true. Yes, absolutely true. You can see not just Oracle. This is happening with everyone. The trend started with Microsoft where Microsoft has started this particular thing. When it has moved, not just their cloud portion or Microsoft or the collaboration tools, but they’re also moving their entire system, including their Windows. Windows 10 is again a subscription-based model. You can buy it on a key or an email basis. Windows 11 is cloud-based, which is a SaaS model. Why? Because, instead of buying once, companies want you to buy or make a subscription year-on-year basis, and that’s how you keep your incremental sales keep flowing and that is the reason SaaS is going to be the next big thing. SaaS and Cloud are going to be the next big thing in this industry.   

Rohit: I agree with you. The one thing that I would like to add in all of this is with more and more software being delivered on the network, the biggest challenge happens to be onboarding. People don’t want to do the traditional onboarding.   

There are no more solutions. If you remember the traditional ERP days, basic implementation took about six months to 18 months and it took forever to get the software running because of the lack of apis. There were no generic integration systems that were available. The Middleware was all that we called more traditional like the tip goes of the world and people had to build these connectors now I think because of the rise of APIs, the power of networks the entire enterprise aspect of how a customer comes on board on the product is changing and Ashwani made a really good point about Microsoft, but honestly, I feel Microsoft is a late leader in this if you really think about it. Google with its GSuite and the mail services were quite early and the trendsetters were like Box.com and the Dropbox of the world.  

They really did everything there Box.com took to B2C SaaS and they did complete self-serve. The customer could onboard himself. Inviting his team members didn’t need a lot of coaching or hand-holding. He could administrate the entire product without too much of this thing and get to the value of the product quickly, but then those products were quite simple in terms of use cases also, so that definitely I think has changed quite a bit. 

And on the B2C side, I don’t know how prevalent music software is currently in different international markets. But out here Spotify, Apple Music subscription, Google Play Music. Those are good examples of B2C SaaS. So that has a different flavor when compared to B2B SaaS where different kinds of people come in and I think no longer do people believe in selling in an RFP-based process in the long run. Unless you’re buying big licensable software from the traditional oracles and the IBMs of the world. Today most of the software is quick onboarding with sales, so I think that is where I see a huge rise of self-serve that is coming in enterprise technology and even the likes of workday which claim to be self-serve or not yet self-serve but they’re all modifying fast.  

If any of you would like to contribute any of your thoughts. 

Satish: How do music services like Spotify and all classify as SaaS.  

It’s a very basic question.  

Rohit: It’s a simple sort of getting paid on the subscription model that they’re seeing they’re taking out. They have a per stream play model for their artists. What they do is they come and count the number of streams and pay them a royalty, but they have a predictive subscription service from the end-users.  

So, they still are charging about $9 or $5 a month, they have a huge funnel of freemium people who then convert so they have predictable revenues. They just have to make sure that they have more money left over from the license or mostly what he called royalties that they pay over to the likes of Spotify. So that’s consumer SaaS is how I would call it.  

Satish: Makes sense.  

Rohit: So, the one also, I think is no longer do enterprises now want to deliver self-service in terms of a traditional model.  

I was just wondering if such, Sat, did you have any points to talk about?   

I think Satish.  

I think you will invite yourself and contribute some thoughts on enterprise technology that you are seeing? I was just wondering what you think about enterprise technology and onboarding and how self-service is rising quite a bit.  

Satish: Yeah, I think. You’re right, a lot of companies, not just Oracle or ERP these days. With the advent of the cloud and especially the focus of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google at all to push a lot of SaaS offerings. Every product maker these days will try to leverage what these guys can offer on the cloud and try to push a lot of products through service layers and easy onboarding.   

That’s where essentially everybody is migrating towards as a lot of companies and industries try to move away from their traditional data center-based operations and server-based operations into serverless and microservices and micro-APIs, everything ruling everyone’s mind now, so nobody has the appetite to stick on to any traditional models.  

Rohit: Absolutely, but that still has not eliminated the need for the sales team. So even with all of this, the interesting thing is. There really is no elimination of sales. The sales have to adapt. The marketing has to adapt because of the self-serve aspect to it, but still, the selling and the salespeople have to adapt to the new model of selling because we still see vendors having enterprise sales schemes and I think it is essential because there’s a lot more value that needs to be communicated to the end customer. But the delivery mode has changed from licensable software to cloud delivery software.  

Satish: I think one thing to add Rohit is, basically when sales and marketing guys these days do offer their products on trial runs very easily, it’s very easy for them to just extend subscriptions or test credits and so on and so forth for their package software. So, a lot of ‘try before you buy’ models are there as well.  

Rohit: So that is actually, I think, that is a very interesting point. The reason is enterprise software used to be a very fearful aspect. What was the fearful aspect of the enterprise model? Oh! If you buy, you can’t take your decision back. I think the “try before you buy” model or the free credits model or book a demo and get a complete product without talking to the 25 sales guy model is a huge blessing in the enterprise.  

Satish: That’s true and then a lot of industries are taking a benefit from this and then you know with a lot of cloud adopters are essentially championing these models. Less so on the traditional style, offered models, though I think a lot of products nowadays are moving towards opening up their products for cloud enablement.   

Rohit: What do you think about this whole fear of cloud and data security happening? Because it was all again, these are some old topics. Don’t roll your eyes. The reason I say that is even still, there are some industries who still believe data has to be on their own premise, but the rest of the industry is moving forward and they and I understand there are some sensitive industries and legal requirements that make them do that. But I think people are moving away from those models, don’t you think? because there is no more of that fear.  

Satish: you’re right and I think a lot of people are overcoming that. It’s slow, the pace is still slower and again as you just highlighted and pointed out there are a lot of what enterprises deem as sensitive information or confidential information and you need exhaustive security covering and these days with a lot of breaches being reported every day in and day out and ransomware attacks and everything else looming so large on many industries.   

One thing on everyone’s mind is cyber–SEC OPS or cyber security operations. So, in every industry, when you get a try before you buy this kind of model everybody does undertake an exhaustive security review to the best of their abilities to try and understand how data is stored, where is it stored? What sort of encryption mechanisms are employed? Whatever be the encryptions that each of them each of the product makers make their product to cater to.  

Rohit: Right, and the majority of them are also dependent on the cloud this entire software is delivered right   

I’ve seen people come over and talk about how it’s important to show their security based on what Amazon claims.  

Yes, B2B and B2C SaaS what is the difference in that one question I will address. What I see in the B2C SaaS is it’s very clear it’s essentially, it is a consumer software, and that’s a definition. Consumer SaaS is actually a label that people understand.   

That is, you serve the end-user in the millions. Very good example. Netflix is consumer SaaS B2C SaaS, Spotify is B2C SaaS, Amazon Prime is B2C SaaS, Zee5 subscription is B2C SaaS. The software is the medium by which the media is delivered, but essentially, it’s all done through a subscription identified to a single subscriber. Whereas B2B SaaS is more of an enterprise base. A very good example is your email inbox from Microsoft 365. There are 20 or 30. There is a seat-based model. There is a usage memory-based model and then there is a different way but it is still sold to an organization. You don’t go and sell Gmail G suite to a single user, I mean that’s possible if it’s a single user company, but usually, it is sold in the likes of a perceived model.  

Achyuth, does that help you answer that question and let me know?  

There is a question about customer success and sales. I think customer success, sales, and marketing in the self-serve enterprise have to come together. Satish, you must have seen this what ends up happening is there’s a lot more hand-holding in terms of product education is needed if the product is complex, but I do believe customer success plays an important role after the onboarding is done and sales have to provide exhaustive education on what the software is all about.  

Satish: Yes, you’re right, and a lot of sales guys do have sales engineers and their teams who are technical enough to take and provide a technical demo to the IT community on the customer side and the sales guy is too often bundle it up with pretty effective packages usually.  

Anurag: Hey Rohit, we have two minutes to go,  And I wonder if you want to talk a little bit about it. how this channel is going to run, reconvene, whatever kind of topics you want to cover. And folks on this call you know you’ll get a notification to follow the channel. If you want to be notified every week, I do want to talk a little Bit about how you plan to spend this whole channel over the weeks.  

Rohit: Thanks for the quick remember on the housekeeping on this one. Hey!  guys the overall thinking is SaaS is a new delivery mechanism. It’s not new. It’s been there for 6-7 years, but it’s taking full momentum, robust momentum, and India is becoming a SaaS giant throughout the world. What I see is the sales tactics have to change. The marketing tactics have to change and the delivery and the rules are enhanced between sales and marketing and product. They’re all merging and the new momentum of PLG, which is a product-led growth where the product does a lot of selling, is also coming in, so we really want to talk more about these areas. We will subject all the topics on the topics of SaaS, SaaS marketing, growth, product-led growth. Explore the newest software trends and the use of AI in SaaS. These are some topics that I’d like to cover in the coming few weeks.  

Aswani: That’s great, Rohit. Even I wanted to hear a lot about things like the new age techniques from you, people as well and that’s what I’m looking out at Mentza to be very honest and I’m glad that I had a connection who’s really talking about SaaS and sales in technology stuff. I wish to listen to you more, participate in your conversations more and hear new techniques in terms of delivering better value and solving the problems to my customer as well, being a sales professional.  

Rohit: Super. 

Link to podcast: Listen here.

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