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Interview: Marc Lehmann from Saasu.com

You may or may not have heard about a little conference we are putting on in a couple of weeks. We are particularly excited by the speakers that we have coming over. I was luckily enough to catch up with one of them: Marc Lehmann from Saasu.com for a quick chat about SaaS.

ME: Briefly explain what it is that your company does.

ML: Saasu provides secure and reliable online accounting software via the web so businesses can concentrate on financial success. In a practical sense you can create invoices, manage inventory, do the payroll and pay bills using a web browser in a synchronised way.

ME: You have been in SaaS, back when is was called ASP (Application Service Providers), how has the landscape changed?

ML: We used to call this a shared application back in 2000 before terms like Multi-Tennant and SaaS came along. The uptake was slow until eventually Salesforce.com educated the corporate market enough that they got traction in 2005. At the same time the consumer was falling more and more in love with having their stuff online. It was almost a barbelled acceptance by consumers and enterprises in 2006 and 2007. Small business and their advisers were probably the last to start the move and that was partly caused by the lack of applications targeting them. Now it mainstream with more than 20% of consumers who use computers using SaaS applications of one kind or another. I think 2010 will be the crossover year where software losses it’s grip.

ME: If you were back working for a corporation, how would you convince your manager to adopt SaaS systems?

ML: Getting people to accept they are already SaaS converts is the best way. They probably already use web based gmail, hotmail or online banking as examples. I’d then hammer it home by getting the P&L out and putting some big chunky black lines through the hardware, depreciation, software and servicing costs. Then add $20 to $200 per month for online accounting. Demonstrating the financial difference is very effective in larger companies.

ME: What are some of the challenges faced by SaaS providers, and how do you see companies like yours overcoming them?

ML: By far the biggest challenge is convincing people to kick their software habit. Fortunately they only have to try SaaS once before they realise it’s a much more powerful drug. They tend to flip the SaaS Utility switch on so they can have their business life online. Shifting their data to a high-end data centre with all it automated backups and high level of security becomes a whole new peace of mind addiction they didn’t know about. And at the same time it’s not ripping a hole in their pocket.

ME: Your background is in finance, so I’m sure you have an opinion on how SaaS will fair during this current climate – how do you see it affecting the uptake of SaaS services, and why?

ML: The low capital, fast implementation cycle for SaaS suits this financial crisis and economic slowdown very well. If you are looking to cut hardware, software and HR costs then invariably people keep coming back to SaaS as the answer. It is a user pays system that scales with business, saves capital expenditure and simplifies deployment and training.

ME: Thanks Marc!

If you want to hear more about SaaS, then head over to the Edge of the Web website and register your tickets!

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