Buying vs usage: I read a mention of usage rather than just purchase and it is a very valuable distinction. Let’s focus on that and go deeper in it.
Buying does not necessarily lead to usage and I’m being generic here, spanning genres of products. Let’s look at a simple and very common example of a purchase that seldom leads to usage. It is the vacuum cleaner at residences. All of us have a desire to keep our homes clean and so when we see an ad or see a demo of how this gadget can contribute to a clean house, we buy it. Touch your heart and answer “How many times have we used it during its lifetime?”. We in fact have two, one local and another of foreign origin bought when we were abroad. Both of them are gathering dust (pun intended) in the loft.
Let’s look at another purchase of running shoes, bought with a very good intention of staying fit and healthy. Branded ones like Reebok or Nike cost quite a bomb but we do not pay much attention to it. To buy it is very easy but to use it calls for getting up early in the morning, cleaning up, wearing a suitable attire, wear the shoes and go for a jog or for a run, all of which is quite tiresome even to think of, leave alone doing consistently.
Human beings are a creature of habit and we carry our personal tastes and preferences to our work as well. So when we read about a productivity enhancement tool that appears relevant to us, we jump in anticipation of lesser work and more results. Then we go in for a CRM or SFA with mobile modules as well in addition to other bells and whistles. Mind you, I’m not talking of SaaS or non-SaaS in this context.
And then reality sinks in. Most of us do not even have a decent database of our customers or an established sales process and so it takes a while to get them on and map them to the software. Assuming, we do that diligently, it calls for Management focus and emphasis to keep it going on a daily basis. I’ve worked with bosses for whom reviews mean only one thing: chewing up people whenever they feel like and I’m sure each one of us have had such superiors who had their own whims and fancies. People need to be trained and re-trained. And when it is month-end or quarter-end, all hell breaks loose and everything is given a go-by including the systems. And by this time, the champion of the application would have left or moved elsewhere and then it dies a slow death.
Vendors like us have a big role to play in getting our products used regularly and that starts with the ease of use within the application, training, support and hand-holding in the initial phases, regular follow-up, introduction of new facilities to name a few. Now the SaaS lobby will cry in joy and say that all that is inbuilt n SaaS and more so because our existence depends on people using our apps regularly. While there is some merit in that argument, it presupposes that people stop subscribing if they do not use regularly, which is flawed inherently.
Look at the newspapers that we subscribe at home or office, the post paid connections for mobiles, broadband, cable TV or DTH connections for example. If we look at the usage (which incidentally we never do), we would find that it is probably 10% or even worse but still we continue to subscribe to them, with a hope that we will do so sometime in the future, when we have the time and leisure (which we will never have). And let us remember that it is our personal money that we are being so casual with. What to say about spending organizational resources which are anyway budgeted for?
There would be a review only when there is a calamity or a huge resource crunch and even then the cuts would be symbolic like replacing clean towels in the wash rooms with low quality unbranded tissues, reducing the number of coffee / tea per employee per day or downgrading the transport facility from cabs to mini vans. Rarely would someone do an audit of the usage of the on-demand apps and demand that the subscriptions be stopped.
So let us not be under the illusion that in-premise software is merely a sales or purchase transaction whereas the SaaS model is relationship-driven. The converse is also true because it is about the philosophy of the vendor not the delivery model.
I’ve worn my pads and abdomen guards in anticipation of a mounted attack!!
Post Contributed by Badri Narayanan V S, NRich Software