The Top 10 SaaS Platforms Powering Businesses Today
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a software distribution model, which uses a third-party provider to host applications and make them available to users over the internet on a subscription basis.
The software is located on external servers instead of in-house servers and requires users to log in with a username and password to gain access.
It is one of the three main categories of cloud computing and works alongside platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).
SaaS platforms help to distribute data online as they are accessible from any device or browser, and do not need users to download any applications onto their PCs or laptops. This quality enables businesses to enjoy greater location-independent collaboration and increased network security as they get constant IT support and hosting from their SaaS providers.
The SaaS business model is changing the way businesses operate because it has a whole host of relevant applications. Some notable ones include:
- File sharing and document management
- Customer retention management (CRM)
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
- Automated products and services sign-ups
- Project management
- Human resource management
- Shared communications and calendars
Businesses big and small are adopting SaaS as an alternative to on-site hardware and software solutions. For the period 2019-2023, experts predict the global SaaS market to be worth $60.36 billion, with a registered growth of 9% CAGR.
So, what are the top SaaS platforms available in the market today, and can they help your business? Before you consider adopting SaaS into your business, here’s everything that you need to know.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of SaaS
In 2020, 83% of business workloads are expected to be entirely cloud-based, with 66% of businesses already having a cloud center of excellence.
This increase in adoption is due to businesses utilizing the cloud platform for nearly all processes and systems. But, as with any product or service, there are definite benefits and drawbacks to consider before adoption.
For SaaS platforms these include:
Lighter, Cheaper Operations:
SaaS eliminates the need for businesses to install and run hardware and software on their computers and premises. The hassle and costs of acquiring and maintaining hardware, as well as installing, licensing, and procuring IT support for the software is passed on to others, leaving your business to concentrate on what it does best.
Should a significant disruption or service outage occur, your business can get back up and running quickly because the IT infrastructure and its maintenance are at the service provider’s data center.
Efficient Use of IT Staff:
SaaS enables businesses to utilize their IT human resource more effectively. In-house IT staffers no longer perform tedious tasks associated with on-site hardware and software troubleshooting, allowing them to tackle projects more in line with the business’ core industry and future growth.
Businesses pay for SaaS using a monthly subscription, keeping costs down, cash flow up, and budgeting predictable. Users can also choose to terminate SaaS products and services at any time without penalty, which keeps expenditure flexible and in tune with the immediate needs of the business.
Automatic Patches and Updates:
Any updates to new software come from the SaaS provider and are not incumbent on the SaaS user. The provider automatically performs updates and patch management, reducing the burden on in-house IT staff.
SaaS platforms offer high vertical scalability. This quality gives customers the option to access more or fewer products and services on-demand.
Since vendors deliver SaaS applications over the internet, users can access the software at all times and on any device. All they need is an internet connection and personalized logins according to their access permissions and security levels.
Limited Security and Compliance:
Businesses that use SaaS products and services effectively surrender control to a third-party provider to furnish the software, keep that software operating, and track and report accurate billing.
They also rely on these third-party providers to ensure a secure environment for their sensitive data. This external control is risky should any breaches or disruptions around identity and access management occur. Businesses must also consider the government compliance regulations they must adhere to when storing customer data at remote data centers.
Although SaaS services offer ready-made IT solutions, customizing the solutions to suit individual business is challenging compared to in-house options, which could affect the brand and how customers perceive the company.
Unexpected Service Disruptions or Changes:
SaaS providers can impose changes to their product or service offerings at short notice.
This factor can have a profound impact on the user and their daily business operations. To minimize this inconvenience, users should understand their SaaS provider’s service-level agreement and read any terms and conditions carefully. This action enables them to adapt accordingly.
Limited Integration Support:
Many organizations require deep integrations with their on-site data, apps, products, or services. SaaS providers may not be able to meet these custom requirements offering limited integration support and forcing these businesses to invest in extra resources to design and manage any required integrations.
The Top 10 SaaS Products on the Market Today
Still not sure about whether buying into a SaaS product or service is worth it?
Read on to understand a little bit more about the biggest SaaS companies on the market today, and to examine how their products and services impact business operations.
Slack is a real-time search, messaging, and archiving solution that has redefined business communications.
Users get to organize team conversations in open all-hands channels, discuss specific topics in limited, invite-only channels, and carry out sensitive conversations using private one-on-one direct messaging.
Slack also allows users to share files, PDFs, documents, and spreadsheets with the option to add comments or highlight specific features for future reference. All messages, data files, and notifications are automatically indexed and archived for easy access.
Microsoft defined the original workplace and is also carving its space in the 21st Century work environment. With applications like Word, Excel, Database, and PowerPoint being longtime office stapes, Office 365 has expanded its product offering into the cloud.
Users can now create, edit, and share content from any device and in any location in real-time.
Staffers can also connect with both colleagues and customers via videoconferencing and other collaborative technologies that support secure interactions both within and without the business.
Salesforce is the big daddy of SaaS products and remains at the top of the cloud computing revolution.
It is a customer relations management tool that enables businesses to collect all the information it needs on its leads, potential clients, and current customers all on a single online platform. Staffers can also access essential data on any connected device, anytime, anywhere.
Salesforce has helped businesses boost average customer sales, increase repeat sales, and cement client satisfaction and loyalty.
Zoom Video Communications provides communications software that encompasses online meetings, remote video conferencing, chat, and collaboration.
Users join conferences from any location and using any device. They can also use calendar apps to sync Zoom meetings and conduct high-definition video conferencing. Users can store meetings on their devices or the cloud with searchable transcripts for easy access at a later point.
What’s exciting about Zoom is that 1,000 video participants using 49 videos on one screen can operate in one meeting! This high level of collaboration allows multiple participants to share their screens at the same time, saving much time as well as money by eliminating business travel expenses.
For added security, Zoom provides end-to-end encryption for all meetings, as well as user access permissions and password protection features.
NetSuite, by Oracle, was one of the earliest SaaS providers. Its cloud computing services encompass enterprise resource planning (ERP) to include:
- Financial planning
- Accounting and billing management
- Reporting and analytics
- Revenue recognition management
- Global accounting and consolidation
- Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC)
NetSuite also offers order management that accelerates the order-to-cash process. This software also helps companies to get products to market more efficiently by enhancing processes like production management, supply chain management, and distribution management.
Coupled with ERP, NetSuite also offers global business management, HR management, customer relationship management (CRM), and professional services automation. This software also provides useful insights into business analytics and intelligence and is the perfect solution to streamline all aspects of business operations for SMEs and big business.
Dropbox has it nailed when it comes to documents and file storage, organization, access, and security.
Anything added to Dropbox automatically shows up across all devices and enables staffers to work on the go. You can begin a project on a work PC in the office, make edits on a smartphone on your way home, and finish off the details on a laptop at home.
Users can also invite teammates to access any folder or document or send files and images accessible through encrypted and password-protected links.
Google, along with Microsoft, quickly recognized the importance of cloud computing applications and expanded its products and services beyond search and advertising.
Google Cloud developed the G Suite platform in 2006 to allow for a whole host of business applications to include:
- Gmail, Hangouts, Calendar, and Currents for communication
- Drive for file and documents storage and collaboration
- Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Forms, and Sites for productivity and collaboration
- Jamboard – a digital interactive whiteboard
- App Maker – an app developing platform
- Admin Panel and Vault for managing users and the services
While these services are free, G Suite adds paid enterprise features like options for unlimited cloud storage, custom email addresses with a domain (@yourcompany.com), and additional administrative tools and advanced settings all supported via email or phone 24 hours a day.
This cloud-based customer service platform enables business owners, freelancers, and employees to efficiently handle inbound client requests from across any communications channel, be it web, email, social media, chat, or phone.
Zendesk features an AI-powered tool for interpreting and solving customer requests known as Automated Answers and Zendesk Voice, a cloud-based phone support solution.
Zopim, a real-time online chat service, answers customers’ queries immediately they come in via chat on your business website. This software has helped businesses improve their customer interactions, which improves the way customers perceive their services.
Electronic signature technology and DocuSign enables the exchange of e-signed documents and digital contracts as a transaction management services platform.
Users can access, sign, and send business documents from their office or any location. This cloud-based software helps to guarantee agreements and approvals in minutes, a process that earlier needed the expensive, time-consuming services of couriers and postal services.
DocuSign e-signatures are legally binding. This essential feature has allowed millions of individuals and businesses to effect personal transactions and agreements irrespective of territory. The app currently has over 85 million users in 188 countries.
Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon, is a cloud-based platform that offers more than 175 services from global data centers. It helps lower business costs by assisting businesses to respond to events and innovate faster.
As a SaaS service provider, AWS provides businesses with completely-managed solutions that cover the maintenance of their essential infrastructure and services. The company offers cloud-based networking services via a virtual private cloud that uses web APIs for on-site connectivity. A cross-section of their services includes:
- Amazon EC2: which helps businesses secure and resizable their computation capacity in the cloud, enabling them to launch applications when needed without upfront commitments
- AWS Backup: allows users to manage and automate backups across all AWS services centrally
- AWS Elasticsearch: makes it easier for businesses to deploy, secure, and effectively scale their applications
- Amazon CloudWatch: collects monitoring and operational data in the form of logs, events, and metrics, providing a unified view of all AWS applications, resources, and services that run on AWS
- Identity and Access Management: allows users to manage access to AWS services and resources securely
- Amazon Kinesis: enables users to get real-time analytics on video and data streams.
According to data collected by Computer World, SaaS businesses that switch from capital-heavy on-site IT solutions enjoy an IT budget expenditure reduction of over 15 percent.
While this service is far from perfect, there’s no doubt that it has completely revolutionized how businesses run today, making IT services location-independent and freeing up staffers to work more with higher collaboration and increased security.
We hope to have enlightened you on SaaS products and services. If you wish to learn more about how to invest in or use SaaS models in your business, feel free to set up a call with one of our business analysts to discuss your buying requirements. We can guide you through the process to ensure that you make the right investment for your needs.
You can view the SaaS businesses for sale currently by viewing our marketplace.
As you can tell, there are many different parts to a SaaS company. This is what makes valuing them tricky. Our SaaS valuations article goes in-depth on the process that should be used.
If you want to get an idea of the valuation of your business then give our valuation tool a try.
Already have a business generating income and looking for the best way to optimize your current operations to make a profitable exit in the near future? Call one of our analysts to set up an exit planning call here, and take the next step to getting the best possible ROI from your exit today.