The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology


My Vision and Hope for SaaS

systematicHR Avatar

There’s a great opportunity that SaaS has. As I think about these vendors with applications hosting scores of medium and large clients on a single installation of an application, on a single (cluster of) box(es), I envision this incredible opportunity to mine the data for best, or at least common, practices.

Today, we count on consultants and analyst groups to aggregate industry data for us and provide best practices. They go out and spend lots and lots of money trying to identify what other similar (and sometimes dissimilar) organizations are doing. Known or not, the SaaS vendors are sitting on a veritable goldmine of consulting knowledge. The value that they have in their servers is completely untapped.

Take for example the top talent management vendors. Each of them probably have at least 100 performance management clients, all of which are larger than 5-10K employees. In some cases these organizations are going to be Fortume 500’s. While I’m not delusional and I understand the client confidentiality each vendor must uphold, the whole point of SaaS is to be able to transcend the gap between service provider and service partner.

If a SaaS vendor can go to a client and say “in general, our other pharmaceutical clients that are trending towards xyz performance plans, and their results have been 123” or “other clients who have tried the type of plan configuration you’re thinking of have not been successful because of abc” this is when they cross the line from provider to partner.

Today, SaaS vendors think that partnership is about inquiring with their client base, finding consensus where functionality should be built, and building it quickly. My message today is this: Functionality is only important in as much as it gets you to a business result. What is actually important is that you have the right approach to get to said result.

A SaaS vendor can’t always provide the best direction that a consultant can, there may be too much liability and it’s honestly outside of their current capabilities. However, I truly believe that they can provide some good education to clients about what’s going on in the industry and what the trends are. Hopefully, SaaS vendors will soon be mining the gold sitting in their databases and figure out how to interpret the data as usable analysis.

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7 responses to “My Vision and Hope for SaaS”

  1. […] systematicHR has touched on a topic I been thinking about for quite some time, multi-client vendors leveraging their clients combined experience and data to provide relevant consulting and analysis services.  A more concrete example on his site would help visitors to distinguish whether the specific database he is looking at (performance management) in reality contains the data necessary to analyze processes. […]

  2. David Johnston Avatar

    Your vision is excellent and I share the same vision, and look to apply it to my offerings. However, there is an important difference between the processes surrounding the software and the data stored within the software. My knowledge of HR systems is limited, but outside the scope of customer data, making meaningfull analysis of the data stored within database is difficult at best without access to underlying client financial and operating information.

    The information regarding the processes surrounding the software (“the right approach”) is not stored within a database but is stored within the minds of the clients and the people who get their feedback. Capturing this information, and/or making it availble via a consulting “agent”, is a supporting service these companies can and should offer.

    My link further expands my comments and includes an action list for the clients considering SaaS vendors and why they should expect the vendors to make this information available as well as how to successfully implement a software installation.

    Your point is sound but it applies to all software vendors, not just SaaS vendors, even if you can give a concrete example of how HR data sitting in a database can be used in this method. Traditional software vendors still have the ability to aggregate information if the value is present.

  3. Tom O'Brien Avatar
    Tom O’Brien

    This sounds a lot like what Hewitt was doing with their H&W Benefits offering for their smaller clients. I don’t remember the marketing name of the service/platform – but I do know that there were MAJOR issues with clients WRT data ownership and rights.

    Tom O’Brien

  4. […] systematicHR – Human Resources Strategy and Human Resources Technology » My Vision and Hope for SaaS Further thoughts on agreggated saas and demonstrating HR roi (tags: hr roi saas research metrics values collaboration hewitt) […]

  5. Erik Berggren Avatar

    When vision becomes reality… as a matter of fact this is happening today. I am heading up our Research Department with SuccessFactors the leading global provider of Performance and Talent Management. We have currently about 2 million users on a single platform.

    We are looking at aggregate data from that enormous resource of ours. To look at what works and not we use publicly available financial information and cross reference those two. The findings we make are very interesting and are being used to further push our thinking of leading practice in different areas.

    We are not that arrogant to believe that what seems to be working in one vertical or for a given situation so easily could be translated to universal success for someone else. All companies’ situations and abilities are not alike. What is our answer? Well exactly what you suggest… we offer research based consulting where this new knowledge is a great starting point for what seems to work and not.

    Erik Berggren
    Director of Customer Results

  6. The future…

    Another post from a few days back on SystematicHR (I just can’t keep up with the guy) in which Dubs hopes that the future of SaaS is a world in which vendors can use abstracted data from their systems to……

  7. […] Another post from a few days back on SystematicHR (I just can’t keep up with the guy) in which Dubs hopes that the future of SaaS is a world in which vendors can use abstracted data from their systems to help customers learn what’s working and what’s not for others in their business / industry. After all, across millions of users and hundreds of companies one could imagine all kinds of delicious data that, in anonymous and abstract ways, could be used to identify trends, successes and failures across all kinds of situations. […]