Impact on business and society

Enterprise Software will experience dramatic changes ahead. SaaS is the primary driver for those change. It is not the new delivery model, but three key elements: Benchmarking, User Experience and Reach and Cost & Efficiency advantages.

The 2006 Enterprise Software Summit http://www.enterprisesoftwaresummit.com/agenda.htm circles around those themes. I look forward to it.

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When I initiated the development for a first “software service” based application in 1997 using ColdFusion 1.5, I had no idea of the development of this industry. It was just ment to interact with our 4,000 resellers in 20 countries and client/server software was obviously not the right way to go.

In 2001 I founded BlueRoads, one of the early Software as a Service companies and the first with an enterprise class architecture in mind. The company experienced great success, grew in market awareness, customerbase and usage. Many other Software as a Service companies where founded in the meantime. I watch over 200 today.

Now – I’m working with some very interesting people (also SaaS pioneers) on a next generation Software as a Service solution and will continue to help this new business to grow fast.

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Change is probably the only constant in our universe. I truly enjoyed my 4 years at BR and especially the personal relationships I developed. Now I decided this is a good time for me to transition to the next phase of my life. I look forward to seeing BR achieve great success!

With Software as a Service gaining great momentum, our industry is changing radically. As Microsoft is joining the market with Dynamics CRM 3.0, the SaaS World will not only develop further but that development will accelerate. The top 6 SaaS CRM Players today in accordance to Forrester Research: Salesforce.com, Siebel CRM OnDemand, RightNow, BlueRoads, NetSuite and Salesnet are leading the trend.

As one of the pioneers of the SaaS industry I see the biggest change not because of the new technology or delivery model, but the explosive usage. While CRM was an elite software for the Fortune 5,000 now 10 Million US or 65 Million world wide business can afford to better manage their customers. ERP is no longer a solution for the Fortune 500 but 10 Million world wide producers of any goods. Software as a Service will bring more change to our industry than PC software did when IBM and Microsoft introduced their solutions in 1982 and disrupted the Mini and Mainframe world. Roughly a billion PCs will use Software as a Service in the next 10 years one way or the other, partly or solely. This development requires massive change in the way we think about software.

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We hear it all over the place – the enterprise software market is dead. With two players left: Oracle and SAP, nobody will want to compete with them. So, bad times for enterprises, if you don’t want to choose between those two. Well – there is a new world how ever: OnDemand Software Service (OSS) or “Software as a Service” (SaaS). Is it like the 70’s where IBM, Bull, DEC, Amdahl… ruled the world until the PC came out?

SaaS for the enterprise is on it’s way – simply because enterprise users like anybody else want the simplicity, the fresh way of how developers look at software, the ease of update, functionality selection and also the omni presence of such software. And as the enterprise doesn’t go away Enterprise Software will be redefined.

SaaS for the Enterprise means that application structures, security requirements, integration aspects and interaction model need to be taken care of. BlueRoads for instance was the first company working on those questions. “APN” the Active Participation Network Architecture was the first step to answer questions around structure and architecture. The VSI Technology (Virtual Single Instance) was a first step to answer the security requirements. APN enabled APIs was the first step to think of large scale integration technologies. And the “Zero Training UI” was answering the user interaction model questions. At least there is a beginning.

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BlueRoads achievements so far:
– Attracted a top executive team who in turn hired an exceptional team under them
– Successfully raised 3 rounds of funding, in rather tough times.
– Delivered a robust and very highly regarded product suite
– Received a lot of respect from customers, analysts including Gartner, partners and other players in the market
– Grew one of the most attractive venture backed SaaS companies
– Introduced a company culture of engagement, openness, team spirit and respect
– Delivered quarter over quarter growth in bookings and about 100% growth year over year with a shoe string budget
– Grew subscriber base (number of partner companies) from about 120 in 2003 to 1,000 in 2004 to 12,000 in 2005.
– Won blue chip customers including Avaya, CheckPoint, Hitachi, HP, Juniper, Nortel and others
– Engaged in technology partnerships with companies like Salesforce.com and Webex
– Maintained consistent vision and strategy
– Introduced disrupting innovations for lead management, deal registration and contract renewal management
– Managed to compete successfully against Siebel and other enterprise class software players
– Managed to win 65% of all channel management deals in the high tech industry in the last 2 years
– Lead the company against major competition to the #1 position in Channel CRM

Anmd the year is not over!

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Software as a Service is one of those innovations (see my post below). It wasn’t meant to be a better way of delivering software. The SaaS movement is about a whole new information technology experience. Some other interesting insight can be read at Sam’s blog, one of the Microsoft people who are driving SaaS. I met Sam at a recent SaaS meeting, hosted by Microsoft with other executives from BeVocal, Blue Roads, Echopass, Ellie Mae, Five9, Intacct, Newsgator and OpSource. Clearly all of us, the early pioneers of the SaaS World, will help shape this new industry segment to a whole new dimension of software innovation.

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Innovation has always fascinated me – it is something that keeps me going. There is one particular aspect about “innovation” that keeps thinking: the difference between Innovation and Improvement (making great things better). Innovators don’t think about  improving an existing solution. Innovation is about understanding a problem from a high level and then diving deep into all necessary details, then creating a holistic view of the situation and dismissing all existing solutions.

From that point on, innovation is creating a whole new and disruptive solution, methodology or process which wouldn’t be created otherwise.

If I would have simply built what our customers told me in regards to lead management – the PULL methodology would have never been invented. If I would have listed to friends and industry leaders how to build a successful whole sale distribution company, Computer 2000, which was the largest European computer distributor would have never been built. If Gottlieb Daimler would have built what friends told him to do, he stated once “It would be an automatic feeding machine for horses instead of creating an Automobile”.

Innovation is more than out of the box thinking. Innovation requires a deep understanding of a given problem, ignorance in regards to existing solutions, abstract thinking and dealing with complexity – then patience to create an end-to-end solution.

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