Cloud

The state of SaaS in 2016: What a recent report means for your business and your staff

Software analysis firm Better Buys has released its state of SaaS report for 2016. It reveals a fast-growing industry that's also transforming into a vertical system all employees will need to know.

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Image: Better Buys

Software-as-a-service, or SaaS, is quickly replacing locally installed programs as the standard way of doing business. A new report from software analysis firm Better Buys sheds some light on how things are changing and how those changes will impact businesses and their teams.

SaaS: it's going vertical

Most organizations that have been around for a while have a server located somewhere in the office. It may be running their email service, handling program licenses, and maybe even operating the business software that their entire company relies on.

SEE: Taking the temperature of the SaaS market (Tech Pro Research)

That model is quickly disappearing as cloud-based SaaS platforms take over. Industry-agnostic software like Salesforce, QuickBooks Online, Workday, and Google Drive are becoming more and more common, but the statistics also show that they won't be the standard forever.

Better Buys' study found that most new SaaS development is moving toward vertically designed software. Verticals are specific to particular industries or needs, and companies designing them have been dominating the field since 2014.

Platforms that focus on marketing, business ops, CRM, data gathering, and ecommerce are leading the growth in SaaS development. It's completely reasonable to expect your company to use multiple vertical platforms for specific tasks, and that means you'll need employees who are trained to work with the ones that matter for their position.

SaaS: what does it mean for employees?

The report highlighted job postings that include SaaS skills, and the list only affirms the growing specificity of SaaS programs. The top of the list is dominated by postings for analysts who know platforms like Domo, Moz, and Stata.

SEE: Why the growth of SaaS means end users lose control (TechRepublic)

What may come as a surprise is the second ranked job title: administrative assistants. There are a number of SaaS platforms that are used in front office work, and knowing them is becoming necessary for professional administrators. Whether it's DocuSign to speed up contract paperwork, Cvent to manage and plan events, or Constant Contact to handle mass emails and newsletters, there's a lot of demand for SaaS proficiency in office staff.

The report rounds out the top five positions with project managers, sales development reps, and customer service reps. Of the 10 positions listed only a couple of them are tech-centered jobs, and that should be telling: SaaS platforms are quickly becoming a central part of business, and everyone is going to need to use some of them.

How should you plan for the future?

The central problem of computer use in business has always been data loss. Servers stored onsite only mitigate a certain degree of risk, but data sent away to the cloud is safely stored offsite and the risks are handled by another company.

There's no going back from the cloud, and as time goes on more and more of your businesses computing resources will be abstracted away. For new businesses this isn't as big a deal: they don't need to worry about transitioning from local hardware to the cloud when they can just buy into it from the beginning.

If you're facing an aging server or old tech that needs replacing now is your chance to ditch it for good. Find out what you need to do to transition that data somewhere safe and start living the SaaS life: you'll be glad you did.

SEE: Cloud: How to do SaaS right (ZDNet/TechRepublic)

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. SaaS platforms are becoming the norm for business. Virtualizing your business platform will save you time, money, and resources. It will also allow you to get more done outside of the office.
  2. Industry-agnostic platforms are losing ground to vertical systems. As time goes on apps are going to become more specialized and industry-specific. You may find yourself using apps for things you never thought you would need to.
  3. SaaS isn't just for tech workers: job postings indicate that non-tech employees need to use SaaS platforms just as much, if not more, than IT professionals. Knowing platforms common to your line of work can make you much more marketable.

Also see

About Brandon Vigliarolo

Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.

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