Each year more and more businesses are moving their operations into the cloud. According to the SaaS Trends Report, companies spent 50% more on SaaS tools in 2020 than two years before. The COVID-19 crisis ramped up the SaaS industry making remote work the only way possible for a significant number of small businesses and large enterprises. And there is no reason to think the SaaS growth will slow down in upcoming years.
The 2020 year-end research revealed that out of 105 companies participating in a survey, most of them were using 26-75 different SaaS tools. Just think of this figure. That’s HUGE!
Along with the complexity of managing all these tools, it’s getting more challenging to figure out how to choose the right SaaS product for your business among thousands of offerings. We gathered the essential knowledge on actual SaaS types and trends in this article to shed light on this issue. Also, you’ll find some tips on how to build SaaS tools stack for your business and not become lost in cloud chaos.
SaaS tools types
To be on the same page, let’s clarify what we understand under the “SaaS tools” concept.
SaaS tools definition is straightforward. It stands for all cloud applications you use to perform various business processes. If to divide SaaS tools into groups, we’ll have the following split.
Vertical SaaS products are focused on a particular industry aiming to perform specific tasks. The applications for pharmaceutical, automotive, construction, property management industries belong to vertical SaaS. For example, Procore is a construction management software assisting in delivering projects on time.
On the contrary, horizontal SaaS applications serve general business needs regardless of the industry. The most notable example is Office 365, Microsoft productivity software you can use on a subscription basis.
Packaged SaaS solutions are created to automate and facilitate specific business processes like sales, marketing, and support. Hubspot, an all-in-one marketing, sales, and customer service software, would be the best example of packaged SaaS tool.
Organized teamwork is what collaborative SaaS products help with. Applications like Slack and Asana make the team’s cooperation more efficient, ensuring business goals achievement. If you are curious to know more about SaaS types, check our article dedicated to the most widely-used types of SaaS software.
Like all markets, a SaaS tools market has its mainstreams, which are worth being aware of to keep yourself up to date with the latest trends. This knowledge will help you understand whether you also need to implement tools that other market players use to improve your business performance.
SaaS tools trends
Here are the main 2021 SaaS trends, which are likely to keep growing in the next couple of years.
Collaboration, integrations, analytics
The world pandemic put on the table the necessity to arrange remote team collaboration to be a decent alternative to in-office work. Collaboration tools differ depending on the functionality they offer to users. For example, Slack focuses on communication and information sharing between the teams, whereas Figma enables joint work on visuals being a collaborative interface design tool. At Eleken, we use both tools to boost our effectiveness as speed and quality of work are our highest priority.
Smooth collaboration is impossible without the integrations of one tool with another. As Slack and Figma have become the heroes of this episode, let’s continue with their examples. Figma supports in-app commenting, so you can see comment threads in Slack. Also, Figma is fully integrated with Zeplin, a collaboration tool built specifically for UX designers and front-end developers to efficiently work on a project.
Slack integrates with a large number of apps providing its customers the most seamless experience possible.
However, the truth is that the bigger number of integrations an application supports, the more complicated it gets to maintain the stack.
Analytics tools adoption is one of the hottest SaaS trends. You will never know if your assumptions are valid unless you check them with unbiased data. Gartner analysts foresee companies will increase spending on business intelligence tools by 23% up to 2022.
To learn more about SaaS trends, check the article entirely devoted to SaaS trends 2021.
Building a “working” stack
Considering that SaaS companies use up to 70+ different SaaS tools, the need to make those tools seamlessly work together is steadily increasing. Ideally, the applications should be natively integrated one into another and have a two-way synchronization with iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) help.
To give businesses the ideas of tech stacks they can build, special events like MarTech are organized. During the conference, marketing teams compete for Stackie Awards demonstrating their tech ecosystems.
We’ve already got used to automated emails, and now automated processes are going beyond solely sales and marketing functions. They are penetrating into the accounting systems, customer relationships, satisfaction, and retention management.
For example, Gusto, an accounting and HR automation software, facilitates payroll and employee benefits calculations.
In a fast-paced environment, automation helps reduce time spent on the manual job and concentrate more on strategic steps.
Niche or Micro-SaaS
Micro-SaaS is focused on satisfying niche market needs. Actually, add-ons we are all accustomed to can be seen as micro-SaaS apps inside a bigger SaaS product. Grammarly for Google Docs would be the top-of-mind micro-SaaS example.
Usually, micro-SaaS business ideas are generated by small teams or even individual entrepreneurs and do not require significant product development investments.
If during the last decades companies fought for greater market share and broader market coverage, nowadays many SaaS businesses changed their focus to providing a valuable offering to the underserved market niches. They develop tailored solutions for particular industries with specific requirements. With small or no competition in the niche, vertical SaaS vendors feel free to set high prices for their products, being sure they have no analogs available on the market.
Battle for CX
In a saturated SaaS market, customer experience, or CX, becomes crucial as never before. You don’t have to put up anymore if a product doesn’t fully satisfy your needs or customer experience is frankly bad. You can always move to competitors searching for better price-quality options. The truth is, a SaaS product with a better customer experience may easily beat the one packed with robust functionality.
Whereas excellent user experience is taken for granted, SaaS companies are looking to expand their offerings with additional services like consulting, implementation, or adoption support.
According to analysts’ forecasts, this trend will keep increasing with the 28% growth rate by 2022.
Besides additional services, SaaS providers make efforts to prove their thought leadership and influence customer decisions through expert content.
Having the data scattered among dozens of applications, a company faces the risk of sensitive information leakage with every new app added. To protect customers’ private data, SaaS companies invest heavily in security and try consolidating their tech stack to ensure all the data is protected. Ability to keep customers’ personal information safe directly impacts the brand’s credibility and can be a factor that influences purchase decisions.
SaaS chaos and decision paralysis
Have you ever heard the saying “More doesn’t mean better”? These words apply to the SaaS industry as well. From one side, the market offers broad opportunities to choose from various tools, and that’s good. However, it becomes challenging for many businesses to find the right tools that would integrate the best into the company’s tech ecosystem.
Customers crave to focus on generating sales and profit rather than moving back and forth from one SaaS tool to another, desperately searching for the best fit.
One more problem in SaaS chaos is the subscription mess. Employees accountable for tracking subscriptions face difficulty managing the increasing number of tools and ensuring smooth services’ usage.
SaaS market experts predict the drastic growth of SaaS tools up to 50.000 in the upcoming years. And here, you may already have a logical question - how not to sink in the endless offerings ocean and select the very products you need to run your business successfully?
You’ll find some hints in the following lines.
“Must” SaaS tools for your stack
Here are the tools that are worth considering to include in your toolbox.
- Sales (SaaS tools for lead nurturing and deals closing)
- Marketing (the bunch of tools for email automation, social media marketing, and lead generation)
- Finance (payrolls, billing, and invoicing automated tools)
- Analytics and reporting tools
- Communication and VoIP
- Team collaboration
- Project management
- CRM and SaaS support tools
Typically many of these tools are multi-purpose. This will help you avoid functionality overlapping when purchasing separate applications for each business need. Though, think about all tools synchronization to control business entropy.
And now, when you have a basic idea of your hypothetical stack, here are some tips on...
How to choose SaaS tools for your business
First and foremost, think about your overall stack. Can all the tools be synced? Do they complement or overlap each other? And of course, what budget are you ready to spend on building your toolbox?
The pieces of advice below will help you make the right decisions during the selection process.
- Conduct research - customer reviews and analysts rankings are the sources you can be based on while weighing a SaaS tool pros and cons
- Ask for a demo - if you have to choose a tool for an enterprise, the smart decision would be asking for a sales call to view a detailed demo. It’s better to clarify all questions before the money will be charged from your credit card
- Take a free trial - God bless those people who created this pricing strategy! You can test and try a new tool and move back if you feel it’s not a good fit for you
- Think about integrations - it’s crucial to check whether a tool you’re going to add to a company’s toolbox can seamlessly integrate with the existing stack. You’ll avoid unnecessary headaches having thought beforehand if all your tools will play nicely together.
- Define the limits - there is absolutely no need to adopt twenty tools at once. Start from the most vital ones and expand the stack along with your business growth.
Working on building your business SaaS toolbox, it’s vital to remember that the best is the enemy of the good. Go only for those tools that are crucial for your business. For example, at Eleken, we focus solely on the tools helping create a user-centered design in the most effective way possible. By the way, if you’re wondering what the user-centered design is, read our article covering human-centered design examples.