An interesting conference – somewhat competing with Saascon in San Francisco. While Saascon was directed to SaaS End Consumer and bringing SaaS closer to the broader public, “OnDemand” was a conference for industry leaders discussing the future of SaaS.

The first few presentations reflected the clear trends and expectations that SaaS is going mainstream and many speakers and panelists predicted that SaaS will replace many on premise applications in the next few years. However some on premise applications like global large scale ERP implementations will remain behind the firewall for quite some years. An analogy was drawn to the 80’s when PCs replaced terminals – yet today – 25 years later – mainframes and even terminals are still in business. The SaaS future seems to be in the hands of the new generation software companies who are built for SaaS from ground up. Discussions made obvious that companies who need to change from a license product business to an on-demand model will have a very hard time. While some predict that most license software companies will fail to make the move, others put the example of Concur up, who successfully made that transition in a two year effort.

An interestingly large portion of the conversation on the podium and on the floor was around indirect channels. While sales organizations are not large enough and marketing budgets are limited, SaaS vendors need to find ways to attract partners to spread the word and help implement their solutions. Some companies present their successes with channels.

Wow – 2 month through the US from coast to coast. Yes, this was a very educational, interesting and relaxing tour. Never in my live I had 2 month off – and yes it is hard to get back into business mode. On the other hand this was so helpful to better understand the country, the diverse cultures, peoples, challenges and opportunities. We came back thinking “California is an island”.

Software as a Service is big – in California. But in the rest of the US? We talked probably to more than 100 different folks in Bed & Breakfasts, Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, Gas Stations, Supermarkets, in Parks or elsewhere – not a single person had an idea what Software as a Service is. Hmmm – so how are we doing in terms of SaaS marketing?

We visited computer stores: “What is hot these days?” “Multimedia in any way or shape.” Videos, photos, MP3… Any business around Internet? Cable Modems, better screens, faster machines, a laptop for grandpa. On software? Antivirus programs. Microsoft? Hmm don’t know nothing hot.

Now we are back and totally recharged