Others who post here espouse the value of having real-time access to information and the potential for collaboration. Stefan talks about the value of having the accounting app at the centre of a suite of applications all designed to provide VSBs with an easy way of get going in business. Winweb distinguishes itself by offering Virtual Assistants. This is a significant investment in people who provide front line support for the business and not simply the application. But the value of such services pales into insignificance when compared with the potential for delivering professional practice intelligence.
SaaS providers are unique in the current applications landscape because they know every single user. But they know a lot more than who they are, where they are and the industries they represent. SaaS vendors can monitor functionality to discover what works and what doesn't. Which pices of functionality are useful to customers and which are not being used. The value of this information should not be under-estimated.
Over time, I expect that SaaS vendors will become a prime source of competitive intelligence in certain markets. They will be able to give practitioners trend data so they can see how they are performing relative to others. This will help practitioners think about how they organise their audits, which customer groups are most likely to be attracted to their services. The list is endless. Some might see this as a form of 'Big Brother' intelligence gathering. I don't. Instead, I see it as a valuable resource that helps practitioners figure out how they can improve service to clients.
Yet another and unexpected value nugget from the SaaS goody bag.