2 days ago I stumbled across a great article by Derek Singleton an ERP Market Analyst at Software Advice, at syscon.com. The article, entitled "Cloud Computing: It’s Not About the Web Browser", discusses the new class of SaaS (or Cloud) application vendors and why they are racing ahead at great speed while the rest of the enterprise apps market ambles along with limited growth.
The author covers many of the common benefits of a SaaS solution, including multi-tenant architecture and the ability to be able to scale easily, the positive changes in which software is now evaluated and purchased (e.g. transparent pricing, free trials, flexible licensing etc.) and better UIs and UXs (user interfaces and user experiences).
But the points which caught my eye the most, and which are less commonly identified in typical "Benefits of SaaS" articles, were the ones concerning the typical SaaS company workforce.
It's simple: the Internet generation simply gets the web
"Most of the people working for SaaS companies are children of the web". Basically, employees in SaaS companies are often from the generation that grew up with the Internet - they understand it, they are comfortable using it, and for them, how best to leverage it in order to build a successful app and company is simply common knowledge.
We notice this trend at Bime HQ - the average age of the team is under 30, everyone has grown up with and has a natural fluency with the online world, and we all want to create the best Cloud BI app in the world. I am sure a lot of SaaS start ups could say the same thing.
In our specific industry (SaaS Business Intelligence) we try to have the best of both worlds on our team. :)
Let me explain more fully:
- 2 co-founders: aged 32. These guys come from the first generation of modern Internet users, and have a wealth of experience and knowledge in business intelligence. Mix these together, and we have a great compromise - extensive BI expertise supported by a modern and collaborative delivery model (SaaS) which gives users a better data analysis experience.
- Managers: aged 40. Bringing both sales and management experience to the table, we wanted to incorporate young senior managers in key positions.
- Sales: Bime and many other SaaS apps are being sold to new types of consumers, and therefore require a new way of selling. The tools we use to give demos of Bime require a hands-on knowledge of the web (e.g. Web Conferencing software) and the product itself is so new, that the team need to be very comfortable with such innovative technology. As a result, the average age of our sales team is around 28.
- Web marketing: a relatively new discipline which has become a core activity of any SaaS organization. There are no geographic barriers in online marketing, and therefore no barriers to communicating with the world. As the job type is relatively new, and the mode of communication must be reinvented each day, the average age of our web marketing team is 22. Thanks to growing up alongside modern technology, these guys can easily master various online tools which are indispensable to their everyday job.
- Dev team: these guys have studied the newest technologies, know the latest programming languages and understand how to use these to deliver the best user experience possible. Some of the technologies they used to build Bime from scratch are so new they are not even being taught in classes yet! The engineers are a mix of ages, each one bringing something different but equally valuable to the table: at the younger end of the scale we have engineers with an average age of around 24, and at the older end we have Nicolas (co-founder) and our PhD Mathias who together average just over 30.
As Derek identifies, SaaS companies often recruit exceptionally bright, young talent, and it's partly the culture of innovation and being able to contribute to the success of the app that attracts these types. The satisfaction of using new technologies to create even newer and better ones is more than enough to attract this web-savvy talent.
The way SaaS companies are structured is yet another testament to the strength of the apps they produce - who better to create the software you need than those who have native experience with the industry? This kind of experience is not particularly teachable - and this is exactly what Derek identifies as the thing, beyond the web browser, that makes SaaS companies a disruptive force in enterprise software.
Without a doubt, the younger generations have a more natural ability to quickly master new technologies. We have arrived at the point now where those who are highly proficient in all things web, Internet, SaaS and Cloud are joining the workforce, and we are excited to be a part of this.
Of course, this is our organization and our opinion. What do you think? Have you had the same experience in your SaaS company? Let us know in the comments.