The Top 10 SaaS trends of 2021 and into the future
The growth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry has been unrivaled in recent years, as developers continue to innovate and offer more varied and tailored solutions to business problems. There’s a SaaS product for almost every industry and role, and SaaS is big business. These recent SaaS trends are a testament to the industry and how quickly it has grown.
- Artificial Intelligence
Right now, AI is one of the biggest developments disrupting the SaaS industry. Artificial Intelligence enables companies to offer hyper-personalization. This is increasingly important to B2B customers, who expect suppliers to predict and pre-empt their needs.
AI enables increased personalization through powerful pattern recognition and predictive analysis: it learns from users’ previous interactions and configures interfaces to cater specifically to the individual. Every user will interact with SaaS products differently, and as SaaS brands expand to offer more features and products, without AI personalization, the interface risks becoming crammed and confusing.
- Machine Learning
Machine learning comes hand in hand with AI, predicting user preferences and behaviour and triggering automated responses. Automation can save companies huge amounts of time, money and human resources, improving efficiency and reducing costs. The most frequent applications of machine learning in SaaS today are automating time-consuming processes.
However, AI and machine learning are not infallible, and a big issue many tech companies have discovered when developing this technology is AI bias. Teaching a machine to learn for itself comes with the risk that, while processing large amounts of data, it picks up bias which the human eye might not. Human bias is one thing, but machine bias is even more risky, as machines lack critical thinking and this could lead to skewed results.
- Vertical SaaS
Forget offering a generalised SaaS product and expecting companies in diverse industries to bend their processes around it – vertical SaaS creates solutions that are tailored to specific niche industries. Targeting clients within specific industries and supply chains means that you can create a bespoke SaaS product which serves their needs perfectly, making it a much more attractive option than more general “horizontal SaaS” offerings.
- Micro SaaS
In the same vein as vertical SaaS, Micro SaaS is the term for software tailored for and targeting smaller organisations. While SMEs and start-ups might not have as much budget available for software products as the larger firms, they are increasingly looking to SaaS for solutions to their business problems. Smaller companies are often more fluid, more adaptable, and more open to using technology to streamline their offerings, save money and ease the load on their small teams. Micro SaaS can help with all of this, and opens SaaS to a whole new market of small businesses.
- Mobile optimisation & mobile-first approach
If we’ve learnt anything from a year of lockdown and working from home, it’s that having not only the right technology available, but being able to use it remotely, is hugely valuable for businesses. SaaS brands are increasingly realising this and making their software available across-devices and on the go. Being able to access and use software in the office, at home and on the go will be a necessity in an increasingly remote-working world.
- Platform as a Service – or “PaaS”
Many SaaS firms are moving beyond simply offering software to Platform as a Service, aka PaaS. PaaS empowers clients and businesses to develop custom applications as integral add-ons to their unique services.
PaaS is even more personalised than Vertical SaaS and Micro SaaS, because the customers buy the platform itself in order to build their own dedicated software. They could even use it to develop their own SaaS product to sell on. But this trend has a name of it’s own…
- White-label SaaS
White-label SaaS products are a combination of software and supporting services which can be rebranded for specific companies. By adding a customer’s brand elements and tailoring the package to their specific needs, the SaaS product feels more personalised and polished. White-label SaaS is essentially selling solutions developed by a different company but customised to your branding, and it’s rising in popularity among firms which have the know-how to use it and sell it, but not necessarily to build it themselves.
- Low-code or no-code SaaS
These out-of-the-box style SaaS platforms allow startups and smaller businesses to bring SaaS-based products to life with less technical know-how. Using a low-code SaaS platform, businesses can build applications with modern interfaces, integrations, data, workflows and more to deliver business results quickly and efficiently. Low-code platforms also lower the initial cost of setup, training, and maintenance, however they also mean there isn’t a dedicated team to call if something goes wrong. Any bugs or other issues might be difficult to fix without the technical know-how.
- API connectivity and integration
Businesses are looking for SaaS solutions that work with the tools they already use and integrate cloud solutions into systems. This is where API connectivity comes in. A public or open API-based SaaS product allows third-party developers to use the code and data from the software to integrate it with other programs used by the company and their network. No matter how innovative your SaaS offering, if it doesn’t integrate with the software a company is already using, it might create more problems than it solves.
The SaaS “giants” out there might offer every feature and program under the sun, but the chances are most companies simply won’t use most of the functionalities available in the software. This is where unbundling comes in. Breaking down core features of services to meet customer needs and offering them individually or in packages makes your SaaS product simpler, more affordable, and more attractive to many smaller companies.
These SaaS trends show how far the software as a service industry has come, and how much more we can expect to see it develop in the coming years. As SaaS begins to mature and better understand its customers’ needs, the future of SaaS will be faster, more tailored, adaptable, blended and cross-channel.