IBM To Help Vendors Transform Software Into Services For SMBs

SaS offers small businesses a number of advantages, according to Dave Mitchell, IBM's program director, SaS. Chief among them are speed to deployment, time to value, reduced risk, and lower initial cost. IDC has predicted that the SaS market will reach $10 billion by 2009; AMI-Partners recently forecasted SMB demand for SaS growing at a 40 percent annual rate over the next four years.

"Accountability is a major issue," said Mitchell. "SaS vendors really have to earn their customers' satisfaction if they want to keep their business. The balance of power has moved to the customer: if they aren't getting what they need, they terminate the service and go elsewhere."

SaS is especially relevant in the SMB space, said Mitchell, because that market is so underserved by many types of business applications. "Many of the application packages available today are too all-encompassing, and too expensive, for SMBs," he said. "With SaS, what you see is the ability of the small and mid-sized customers to acquire this functionality with very limited upfront costs."

The SaS resources for vendors that IBM unveiled include:

Sponsored post

--The Software as Services Showcase, which is an online directory that allows customers to search for software that is available as a service. The directory is divided by subject area, such as compliance, human resources, and CRM, as well as by industry, such as retail and insurance. "What we're trying to do is provide customers with a portfolio of SaS products they can choose from," said Mitchell, who added that IBM is facilitating collaboration between SaS vendors to integrate their offerings with each other. "The real growth in this area will not be point solutions but integrated solutions."

--Technical workshops, including the Software as Services Financial Modeling Tool Workshop, which will help vendors explore which hosting and SaS scenarios are right for their company; and the Software as Services Transformation Workshop, which provides guidance on how to deliver a SaS.

--SaS sales and marketing assistance, which includes access to analyst reports, networking and collaboration tools, discounted advertising in industry publications, and lead generation services.