What are SaaS companies and how do they work?
SaaS, or ‘Software as a Service’, is a means of software delivery where companies host and maintain the servers, databases and code that make up an application. SaaS companies are those that provide this hosting service, delivering their software applications via the cloud.
Generally, SaaS platforms are designed with the intention of making things quicker and easier, whether it’s for their clients, the customers of their clients, or both. An innovative design is key - to stay ahead of competitors, and to actually provide a service which makes a difference to clients in terms of time, energy, and results - greater footfall, more sales, etc.
The top 10 innovative SaaS
With that in mind, let’s look at 10 of the most innovative SaaS companies and the kind of services they deliver.
LinkedIn is a business and employment-focused social networking site mainly used for professional networking. Its revenue comes from three main strands of subscription services: Talent Solutions for recruiters and corporations, Marketing Solutions for advertisers, and Premium Subscriptions for more specialized advanced features.
To get an idea of how widely used LinkedIn now is, in the most recently reported quarter, the site had 467 million members. Its many innovations include redeveloping their app to mirror the mobile interface (50% of its usage is on mobile) and creating a powerful search engine that filters against dozens of fields in their database.
Providing services such as Gmail, Drive, Photos and Docs, Google Apps is a hugely popular SaaS. These apps are free to use up to a point - for example, if you want more than 15 GB of memory on your Google Drive, you can pay a subscription fee to increase it. Google Docs meanwhile removes the need for a Word programme on your computer - all you need is an internet connection.
Slack is an acronym, standing for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge. It’s designed to make work easier, enabling you to create specific message threads for different teams in your business. You can also send direct messages, make voice and video calls, share files, connect all the apps you use so that you can receive all notifications in one place, and search your entire archive of data. This means you can search through PDFs, word documents, Google docs, everything - all with one search box.
Intercom is a customer messaging platform created to make communicating with your customers an easier, more enjoyable experience. This SaaS allows you to communicate with customers on your website in real-time, and then follow up with them via email. You can also create a Knowledge Base of information so that your customers can discover answers for themselves more quickly. The Helpdesk meanwhile allows you to deal with all inquiries in one place. AI-powered ‘smart suggestions’ moreover help to save time by providing canned responses to frequently asked questions - and it learns the more you use it, becoming increasingly effective and efficient over time.
Mailchimp is the world’s leading email marketing platform, with 15 million customers. This email marketing service makes it easy to send email newsletters, manage subscriber lists, and track the performance of your marketing campaign. You can also integrate your marketing platform with e-commerce providers such as Shopify and Magento.
Regarded as the founder of the SaaS industry, Salesforce is famous for its innovative and award-winning CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software that is fully cloud-based and scalable, enabling you to collate all customer information and have a better understanding of your customers’ needs without the need for hardware or physical upgrades. They also offer services such as PaaS (Platform as a Service) and Work.com – a social performance management platform.
This multinational corporation specializes in marketing database software, providing services such as CRM, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and SCM (supply chain management) software. Their innovations center around their ability to offer high flexibility and product depth to their customers – information management tends to become trickier once a business has reached a certain size, but Oracle provide a whole spectrum of services to enable easy managing and monitoring of all company data, regardless of how large it gets.
This file-hosting SaaS offers features such as cloud storage, file synchronization, personal cloud (digital content accessible from any device), and client software. The standard service is free, while the paid subscription service Dropbox Pro provides greater storage capacity and other features such as Remote Wipe and advanced sharing controls. One of its main attractions is that you can access files from any device connected to the internet, removing the need for data storage devices. Recently, Dropbox has designed its own machine to handle file storage, holding as much as a million gigabytes of data – just 50 of these could store every single thing human beings have ever written.
Shopify is an e-commerce platform designed for selling goods online. Evidence of its success can be seen in the fact that vendors on Facebook and Amazon are allowed to use Shopify as a platform, the two companies reportedly giving up on developing their own software.
This is an older company that has recently transitioned into being a SaaS. Best known for its Photoshop software, Adobe’s position as a giant in design looks set to continue as visual communication becomes ever more crucial – particularly with new mediums such as virtual reality.
How BRIDGE can help
BRIDGE is a SaaS marketing solution for brands and retail networks, designed to facilitate O2O (online-to-offline) commerce – converting online traffic into in-store footfall with platforms such as store locators and more.
This is different from the on-site software delivery model, where companies have to buy a considerable amount of hardware in order to host the software. If a company invests in a SaaS platform, most of the IT responsibilities necessary for maintaining and troubleshooting the software are taken care of by the SaaS vendor.
SaaS is also different from on-premise software with regards to its pricing. While on-premise software is usually paid for via a license fee plus maintenance/support costs, SaaS companies allow customers to pay a subscription fee, which is normally all-inclusive.
BRIDGE offers features such as a store locator, local pages, online listings and a centralized platform through which you can easily update content and optimize your brand’s marketing strategy.
For more information about what a SaaS like BRIDGE can offer you, read our Saas vs Custom Build ebook.