This Is How SaaS Will Get Disrupted In 2021: 5 Emerging Trends for SaaS
This is an authored article by Mr. Anurag Singh, Managing Director India for Clearwater Analytics
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) has been the largest market segment when it comes to public cloud end-user spending as per the recent Gartner report.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further triggered strategic disruptions around digital transformation. Enterprises have accelerated the adoption of public cloud for their existing or new SaaS offerings. With this immense focus on digitization and the need to reduce the time to market, organizations are innovating at a much faster pace.
As we start this new year, let us look at some emerging trends for SaaS that will further disrupt this ever-growing space of SaaS-based solutions.
As per the State-Of-AI-Global-Survey by McKinsey, AI adoption in 2020 has been highest in product/service development and service operations. As per report, organizations are going to invest even more in upcoming months in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
AI and cloud are becoming the most talked about aspect of SaaS businesses. SaaS products are adding AI-driven personalized experiences. As the AI offerings from all major public cloud vendors get deep and mature with new features, so is its adoption of SaaS products. For example, Clearwater Analytics, (a global SaaS solution provider for automated investment data aggregation, reconciliation, accounting, and reporting), we launched our AI powered Data extraction service in August 2020 to identify key data elements in a variety of document types then extracts this data and feeds it into Clearwater’s data aggregation engine. Like Clearwater, many other organizations are adopting AI in different categories of solutions.
One category that stands out is Predictive Analysis which in simple terms means that we take large historical data and apply predictive algorithms to generate models. These models are then applied to the incoming new data to yield predictions.
Looking at a few top disruptive AI startups of 2020, most of them are building some sort of predictive models. This adoption is observed across various domains to solve specific use cases ranging from wholesale market goods prediction to catastrophe risk prediction by Zesty.ai.
AI will continue to see this traction and be a major trend in 2021 as SaaS providers bring more ultra-personalized recommendations and better predictive forecasting services in upcoming months.
2020 has not only witnessed an accelerated growth in digitization, but also in threats around data leakage and misuse. In fact, one of the major concerns for digital transformation has been security.
We have already seen in February 2020 one of the largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attacks in the history of the internet. It was peaking at 2.3 tbps (TeraBytes per second) but fortunately mitigated by the targeted cloud provider. Apart from this, there had been many data breaches that happened across different organizations in 2020.
SaaS offerings have been at greater risk given their online operating model. Whether it is the data at rest or data in transit via these APIs, everyone wants to make it as secure as possible.
SaaS providers’ top priority has been to detect security vulnerabilities as soon as possible. This detection is followed by immediate and automated (if possible) remediation to strengthen their products with multi-layered protection.
2021 is going to witness a huge focus on AI-based vulnerability detection and quick mitigation to avoid any intentional or accidental data breaches. This is more evident from the fact that security detection is going to be one of the topmost trends in cybersecurity according to techhq.
With the increased cloud adoption throughout the year, two major trends under data analytics that are worth mentioning are SaaS-based Business Intelligence (BI) and real-time analytics.
As many companies realized the importance of data they collect on daily basis, they wanted tools to harvest value out of this data and present it too, whether internally or externally. Many SaaS Providers had realized this opportunity and had been building robust tools already. In 2020, we have seen its growth further. Almost all major cloud providers now have mature offerings for BI tools. Amazon Web Services (who publicizes their product roadmaps to be heavily driven by customer needs) had added 20+ new features in their BI tool offering called Amazon QuickSight just in 2020, including the QuickSight Launch in the Mumbai region. Many other SaaS-based BI tools are innovating at a similar pace.
Also, this is going to be backed by the need and evolution of real-time data analysis. The rapid change in business during the pandemic has also resulted in need for more real-time insights across data.
In 2021, this is going to be a major focus area for all SaaS businesses where they are going to provide more streaming based analytical services there by adding real-time insights to their offerings. According to Global Streaming Analytics research by VMR, the Streaming Analytics Market, which was valued at USD 10.10 Billion in 2020, is projected to reach USD 78.44 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 34.03% from 2021 to 2027.
Customer Centric SaaS
The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has shown us how swiftly customer needs and their interactions with various systems can change. The technology world has responded well to this. Many startups, SMBs, and enterprises have enriched their products and services to fulfill this sudden rise in customer requirements.
SaaS businesses, being the backbone for every other product, have had to innovate at even greater pace to match these demands. For example, looking at the EdTech needs, Microsoft quickly pivoted their Microsoft Teams offering by adding many “Teams for Education” features for better remote learning.
As we enter 2021, these SaaS providers must bring customers or end-users to the center of every single requirement. This is going to be the one of the biggest trends around building more customer centric SaaS offerings. For some this could also mean breaking the end-to-end SaaS products into more concise and focused services based on the need of a particular segment of customers.
Integrations and Self-Service Models in SaaS
SaaS has been around for over a decade now. As more and more systems have been building around these SaaS offerings, one of the key differentiators for these providers against their competitors is seamless integrations.
SaaS providers need to provide relevant and easy integration points for their customers to consume their APIs. If there is a popular platform out there for a respective business domain, the provider needs to enable applicable integrations to reach a wider customer base. For example, a SaaS provider in the eCommerce domain might want to integrate with the two fastest growing platforms in this domain — Shopify and WooCommerce.
The Self-Service model is another such aspect which is going to provide a competitive edge. Big players like Google and Microsoft had realized that much earlier. Their SaaS offerings come with a very smooth onboarding process without any manual interaction with the provider. SMBs are catching up on this and trying to move towards complete self-service model wherever possible.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, this has become even more relevant and important because everyone is remote now and visiting a customer to onboard them onto your platform is not possible.
In 2021, easier integrations and self-service model are going to be one of the top charters for SaaS providers. We will see an upward trend around adoption of newer integration platforms, better SDKs and enhanced self-service developer portals for APIs.
As the entire world witnessed a pandemic, the year 2020 has also surfaced the need for faster digitization and innovation around us. While the technological world responded strongly, it has set a solid foundation for many trends discussed above to be witnessed in 2021. It will be interesting to see how various SaaS businesses outperform each other around each of these trends and build better offerings for their customers.