We’ve all grown leery of marketers who invent concepts seemingly out of thin air, then tell us we have to have it or something horrible will happen. “Adapt or die,” we are told. We hear claims like you should spend x% of your salary on an engagement ring (says the diamond company.) I am not sure what would happen if you spent less, but who would want to find out? Showing your infant certain DVDs could make her grow into a genius. If your daughter grows up to be merely “normal,” well, maybe you should have spent that $20 on the DVDs. That said, your company needs to think about and implement Software-as-a-Strategic-Weapon (SaaS-W), or your competitors will eat you alive (says the marketer from Appirio).
We came up with the term “SaaS-W” to describe a legitimate trend in the cloud and software world. My marketing colleagues and I have had a little fun with the idea of SaaS-W as an over-the-top marketing concept. We even started a tongue-in-cheek twitter hashtag on the topic. But behind the fun, here is what we have been seeing:
Read CIO Magazine’s 2014 State of the CIO article, which they sub-titled “The Great Schism.” The basic finding of their survey is that CIOs (and IT departments) are split into two camps: one an outward facing “game changer” that focuses on activities like driving innovation and developing business strategies, while the other camp is seen as a service provider, trying to smooth out operations and cut costs. The technology leaders that are focusing on strategic activities are the ones practicing SaaS-W.
Consider the recent report from Forrester Research titled “Software Must Enrich Your Brand” with the subtitle “Software Is A Critical Strategic Asset, Not An Operational Nice-To-Have.” Larry Dignan of ZDNet gave a nice summary of the report, saying “Every company is a software company—or at least aspiring to be one.”
And finally, we are increasingly having conversations with companies wanting to develop software that doesn’t just provide operational excellence, but propels them in the marketplace. One great example is the Social Intranet we created with Virgin America to increase cohesion and the effectiveness of their workforce.
Clearly, IT organizations around the world are splitting into those that are merely trying to keep operations going smoothly and cheaply, and those that are finding ways to use software as a strategy in the marketplace. Additionally, the expectations of customers, employees, and partners continue to be raised by an influx of beautiful and effective applications into their daily lives (think of applications like TripIt, Runkeeper, Uber). Also think about how retail banking has changed, and it is clear that IT departments that just keep the lights on are insufficient. If you imagine two otherwise indistinguishable firms selling the same product, the one that produces the best strategic software application will win.
So even though we have had fun with the term Software-as-a-Strategic-Weapon, it is clear that it is a serious metaphor for the current competitive landscape. We combined fun with a strategic concept in producing an eBook about Saas-W. In it we talk about the current enterprise software landscape, give some examples of our customers who have created SaaS-W, and give you some practical guidance on getting started. Let the revolution begin.