A couple of posts in the last day or two got me thinking of some added value for SaaS. Over at the unreasonablemen they discuss the differences between ASPs of old and SaaS of today – the premise being that SaaS is differentiated and add more value than ASPs did.
Bob at Smoothspan started talking about vertical benchmarking for SaaS customers and this led me to a whole new value proposition for SaaS that I hadn’t given much thought to (and a question or two that raises).
If I look at my own businesses, I can think of a few times in the past where some benchmarking would have been really valuable – metrics like marketing spend as a percentage of revenue, remuneration rates, travel costings, minute production rates etc etc. This information is vaguely available but from diverse sources, generally out of date and not overly specific (not to mention at a significant cost given the hassle involved in mining that data.
SaaS obviates all of these issues – if I’m using Xero, at the back end Xero can do some simple querying to mine some comparative data that gives me some averages I’m interested in (although Xero is probably a bad example given the sensitivity around financial metrics). Similarly Salesforce can allow me to compare pipeline timings with others in the same or different industries.
Like all of these things however there is a but, and that big but is privacy – where does the line get drawn between general, non-specific data and something sensitive – as we’ve seen of late around the Beacon debacle – privacy is a big issue for consumer users, it’s significantly bigger for business users.
It is however a worthwhile value-add and one that SaaS is uniquely placed to deliver upon.