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Types of SaaS Products

Software as a service, (SaaS) is an online software delivery business model in which software products are accessed by the customer through the cloud rather than by downloading the software products they need. For example, with an SaaS word processor, you would open your browser and navigate to the site where the software is located or access it through a specific portal. Then you would log in using your ID and password to log in. Clients must pay for access to the service and the vendor provides data storage for the client’s work and stores the program itself, as is common in cloud computing. The vendor owns the machine/s on which the program is loaded and running as well as any documents created using the program.

The most important advantage of SaaS for the customer is the ability to forgo downloading and storing a program or the data from projects created using the service. By accessing SaaS products, the customer can potentially do much more with any given machine or network of machines. This is because the burden of downloading and storage is handled by the vendor.

Some simple SaaS examples include:

  • Dropbox: A popular collaborative office document creation platform
  • Lumen5: A video creation service with a user-friendly interface
  • FutureFuel: A student debt management application
  • Squibler: A creativity app for writers
  • Buffer: A social media management and scheduling tool

Types of SaaS Products

There are many types of SaaS products. That is part of what makes the concept so valuable because a user does not have to dedicate a given device or network to one or a limited number of functions. The types of SaaS include:

Packaged software: By far the largest part of the SaaS market, packaged software comes in many different forms including supply chain management, customer relation management, human resources, and financial management just to name a few of the most popular types. The idea behind packaged software is to provide a full turnkey solution to a complex need and to deliver it in one cohesive bundle. 

Collaborative software: This type of SaaS lets members of a team to work on a common document, product, or project from any location online. Dropbox or Google Docs are likely the most well known services of this kind. 

Management and Enabling Tools: These types of SaaS products provide metrics for a wide range of different things such as monitoring the behavior of users on a given website, monitoring activity on a network, testing a system or asset, and much more.

SaaS Examples

There are as many SaaS companies out there as there are things to do online. There are small, medium sized, and billion dollar SaaS companies out there. Some of the largest include Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Google G Suite, and many more. We mentioned a few of the most prominent niche SaaS companies above, but there are thousands doing business online right now, if not more.

List of SaaS Categories

SaaS can technically fall into any category of software product. Any complete list of SaaS categories would be massive. Some of the most popular and useful categories include:

  • Web Hosting and E-Commerce: These include content management systems, message boards, shopping carts, web hosting, and much more. SaaS services of this kind make online business possible and vastly improve the experience for both the customer and the vendor. 
  • Communication Platforms: File sharing, instant messaging, and other functions of this kind improve collaboration and enable teams in disparate locations anywhere on Earth to work together on a common goal.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Key to any public facing business, CRM helps businesses to track sales, automate marketing tasks, manage customer information, and much more.
  • Accounting: Every business needs accounting services. Only now with SaaS accounting services is it possible for anyone to perform accounting functions themselves. No matter what the size of your business, SaaS accounting services can be a real game-changer.
  • Payment Gateways: This type of SaaS service provider delivers secure and convenient online payment systems. These are used for taking credit card payments, running offers and rewards, processing bank transfers, publishing and tracking coupons, and more.
  • Human Resources: Track employee work hours, schedule interviews, automate payroll functions, and streamline hiring processes with Human Resources SaaS services. This is one of the most popular types of SaaS and is used all over the world by all types of employers.
  • Project Management: End to end project management solutions provide turnkey toolsets for tracking progress, drafting plans, listing requirements, and many other complex aspects of managing a project.

The Top 5 Fastest-Growing SaaS Companies 2020

  • Cisco: A global leader in IT, Cisco provides a host of hardware and software tools, including SaaS portals that help their customers find the best IT products and services Cisco offers.
  • Google: Likely the biggest and most powerful SaaS company, Google provides the most widely used web browser. They are so well known that their name is most often used as a verb. “Google it.”
  • Slack: Founded in 2009, Slack is one of the newest of the heavy hitters in SaaS. Slack is a business chatroom with workspaces to organize communications into distinct channels.
  • Adobe: A multinational company with the ubiquitous Flash Web ecosystem, Adobe is best known for its creativity software and has expanded into digital marketing.
  • Microsoft: This leading global software company delivers some of the most popular productivity software in the world such as Excel and Word.

B2C vs. B2B SaaS

The two types of SaaS companies are those that provide software as a service to individual user-customers, or members of the general public; and those who provide SaaS to a business for use in their commercial functions. These are known as B2C and B2B.

A B2C company can be purely for entertainment, productivity, access to products and services, or it can enable an individual to perform business functions.

A B2B company can sell its services to individuals, but their primary customer base is enterprise-level organizations. These can be accounting tools, human resources management, payroll utilities, and many more.

Some of the fastest growing B2B companies include:

  • Google: The ubiquitous first name in SaaS
  • Troop Messenger: A productivity messaging tool
  • Hiver: A lead generation service for sales
  • Atlassian: A productivity products vendor
  • PieSync: A data synchronization service

While there is a great deal of overlap between these two categories of SaaS, the most important distinction between them is their customer base. A B2C company has much more complex public relations needs as it is a public facing entity. That being the case, many B2C companies will work with a B2B SaaS provider for public relations SaaS capabilities.

PaaS

Web development is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As such, companies need a way to streamline their development processes. Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers make this possible by enabling developers to move software development and deployment functions into the cloud. PaaS providers allow a developer to move software, hardware, and data to a host location. The advantage of this is the developer no longer needs to buy, build, and manage their own infrastructure. Rather, they can do everything they need to do online.

While PaaS and SaaS are both applications of cloud computing as a business model, the key difference is SaaS offers a software asset list, such as an office suite whereas a PaaS offers the capabilities of a physical asset. 

Prominent PaaS examples include:

  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Google Cloud
  • IBM Cloud
  • Oracle Cloud Infrastructure

IaaS

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service through which an organization obtains an instant It infrastructure which is managed and provisioned through the Internet. In short, it is a model of computing in which computing resources are hosted via the cloud.

IaaS vs PaaS

While these two types of SaaS are quite similar, there are a few key differences. An IaaS delivers fully cloud-hosted servers and operating systems with which the client can do whatever they like. Conversely, a PaaS gives an organization a full-featured platform in which to develop, test, and distribute applications through the cloud. Essentially, with PaaS, a developer only needs their own original coding. The coding can be created in a number of popular programming languages. The networking, hardware, and security will all be handled by the PaaS vendor.

With all of these powerful tools and solutions available through the cloud, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are making it possible for more companies to do business and be more productive than ever before. Where companies used to have to store all of their own software assets, manage ans secure their own computing infrastructure, and source and manage their own professional teams, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS are rapidly removing barriers to doing business.

These capabilities are making it possible for more people to start businesses, grow their businesses, and to be successful.

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