SAAS, or cloud business in general, is profoundly changing business dynamics. I won’t go into details as these changes are really well documented.
The one element, though, that I haven’t see mentioned so far is that it’s interesting to see how all the traditional business functions have all evolved from discrete time and objectives-bounded activities (with a clear start and finish) to more continuous ones.
Engineering, sales and marketing all have embraced models where their core business processes (product development, marketing campaigns, sales engagement) are now continuing much farther than what used to be their end point.
In product development, it’s well known that Amazon engineers are on pager duty to be able to jump on and fix the code they write if an issue is reported. On the other side of Lake Washington, under Satya Nadella, Microsoft has eliminated its 30 years old model of the Developer-Test-Program Manager trio for a dual Dev/PM one where engineers are responsible to code and fix their features (vs. throwing it to test/QA for them to see if it was working correctly).
Similarly, sales for cloud solutions now involve moving from mostly hunting, to hunting and nurturing deals. This is necessary to ensure that, once deployed, customers are fully satisfied and continue (and hopefully increase) usage of the service vs. cancelling their subscription after only 3, 6 or 12 months. My good friend Jacco van der Kooij just published a great book going through the best practices relative to how to design your sales teams for a SAAS world so I won’t elaborate further. If you are interested in sales-related aspects for SAAS businesses I advise you read it’s fascinating book “Blueprints for a SaaS Sales Organization”.
Finally, Marketing has slowly evolved in this direction of continuous campaigns as well. From a classic prepare-launch-move to the next product launch, marketing has evolved to a continuous process too. Now, campaigns never end but go up and down in intensity (you never want to let the wheel stop spinning), where people move from product launches, to regular content publication, to social engagement, to the next minor or major upgrade of the product, etc. Maybe the term “Go To Market” is not the more aft to describe what’s happening anymore. Maybe Go and Grow To Market? (GGTM).
Either way, this also has, similarly to what’s happening in the sales and engineering organizations, impacts on roles, organizations and metrics. How are you adapting your metrics to these changes? In particular when a particular one (say webpage impression, app downloads or service trials) is a combination of a business as usual result with several marketing activities running in parallel.
To conclude on these parallel changes, an amusing analogy is that all the core business processes, as we moved from installed software to cloud based one, have on their end evolved from discrete digital-like activities (1,2,3…) to more analog-like continuous ones. Or from distinct Qantas to everlasting Waves, for the physics geeks amongst us.