The Future of SaaS: Web Products

Software-as-a-Service has been around for a while now.  Some would say it emerged as a technology around 2000, but I’d point out this is only when the term “SaaS” started getting widespread usage.  The concepts of renting software predate any discussions using the “SaaS” acronym, with Application Service Provider business models in the 90’s, and timesharing before that.  We love to create new buzzwords in IT, don’t we?  But how often do we really create something new?

I think the core element of SaaS–what makes SaaS, well, SaaS–is the license model, but again, selling a term license to use a product is nothing new.  But in the future, what if the license model were to evolve from a term license–“You will be permitted to use our software for 1 year”–such as is prevalent in SaaS today, to an event license?  This isn’t really new either–you pay for a job listing event, basically; are, CareerBuilder, and the like “SaaS”?  I would say they fall into a separate category altogether, which I call a “web product”.

Is this the natural evolution for SaaS products today?  Is this the future of SaaS?  Well from my own experience, I am inclined to say quite possibly.  Our own onboarding system can be purchased through a pretty simple and straightforward event-consumption model: you pay for the number of hires you conduct in our system (we have other license models, but this is our most active model).  If you think about it, even products that at first don’t seem to lend themselves well to the “web product” model can be delivered in that model.  An accounting system, for example, in conventional SaaS sense is termed, usually for annual periods; what if you were charged instead by the number of invoices you send to your customers, or a percentage of those invoices, or the number or amount of payables you processed?

Dont’ think that this is too far fetched; what, after all, is the value proposition of cloud computing?  Completely on-demand computing power, i.e. the ability to dial up, or dial down, our infrastructure investments, right?  If you think of your operational software systems the same way, doesn’t this mean we’re evolving toward the web product model?


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