@madpilot makes

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!

Why freelancers should go to conferences

Let me take my Event coordinator hat off for just one moment, and replace it with my “Hey, I’m a freelancer – why should I fork our hundreds of dollars to go to a conference” hat (I have a lot of very specific hats). Miles Burke recently wrote about why you should attend two conferences every year, but what about you, my fellow freelancers, who have to watch the pennies? I personally think freelancers have the most to gain from attending conferences – think about it:

  1. Learning new stuff. As a freelancer, every minute you aren’t working on a client project is money you aren’t making. When do you get a chance to find out about new stuff? It’s usually squeezed in around lunch time or after hours, which is cool but how can you moot the benefits of a new tech? Although things like twitter or forums fill the gap a little, nothing beats old school, real word face-to-face talks. There are lots of people at conferences who’s minds are focused purely on new stuff.
  2. Meet famous people. Conferences are really just an excuse for the organisers to fly over people they admire. The thing is, because these people are only really famous on the internet, they are still usually really down to earth and approachable and are more than happy to chew-the-fat over a beer or three.
  3. Inspiration.  Smart people hang out at conferences. Smart people talk about smart stuff at conferences. Smart ideas are inspirational. Every time I come back from a conference I have a head full of crazy ideas that I wish I had more time to implement.
  4. Networking. I don’t care what anyone says – the MOST important skill a freelancer can have is the ability to network. 90% of my freelance work comes through people I’ve met (And I’d put money on the fact that most freelancers are the same). Freelancers by definition won’t have a dedicated marketing person, or a huge marketing budget, so networking is really a cheap and easy way to meet new clients (and more importantly new friends). Conferences have many people in a small area who could potentially want to talk to you. (Don’t forget your business cards).
  5. Tax Deduction. ‘Nuff Said

Ok, ok talk is cheap (thank god, otherwise I’d be bankrupt) but there really isn’t a way to describe the experience of a conference – the only way you’ll understand is to go to one. Now, you sandgropers are lucky because we have Edge of the Web on our doorstep. I had to fly to Sydney and sleep on a mates floor to get my first conference experience, and it still cost me nearly $2000 (but it was freaking awesome). You can get the same experience for $495 – I’m no Dr. Maths, but that sounds a truck load better.

Seriously, if you are umming and ahhing, just do it. I’ll see you in November :)

WA Web Awards Finalist!

Well, the finalists for 2008 WA Web Awards have been announced and my silly little Super Mario Brothers JavaScript experiment is in the running in the Web Innovation category.

If you think that Mario Brothers is the awse, go and vote for it in the people’s choice award (You need OpenID). Apparently this blog got a highly commended too, which is kind of cool.

The Edge on the Web and the WA Web Awards are only one month away, which is rather exciting – you are going aren’t you?

Have a happy and safe conference season

We are about to head into my favourite times of the year – Australian web conference season! Ausralia’s biggest web conference – Web Directions South – is due to kick off on Thursday, and as usual the Perth Posse (sans Adrian and Rose) and heading over. There is even a few n00bs who have joined the clan, making for this years Port80 Sydney even bigger! As previously mentioned, I’m lucky enough to be speaking on OpenID, OAuth and Webservices on Friday. Not to mention always amazing WebJam 8 on Thursday night (Unfortunately a lack of rips in the time-space continuum has stopped me from presenting in that this year – I petition for a 30 hour day – whos with me?) and the always crazy post-conference drinks on the Friday. Let the games begin.

BUT! We can’t let the east coast have all the fun – don’t forget that Perth first major web conference is  happening in less than 6 weeks! Our little sub-committee has been toiling away for the past few months organising the very first Edge of the Web conference and fourth WA Web Awards. Tickets are on sale now for both events, being held on November 6 and 7. There are some awesome speakers coming from overseas and over-east. There is also a number of other soon-to-be announced activities, so what this space.


Ubiquity: Three types of awesome

A couple of days ago, Mozilla labs released Ubiquity 0.1, which is a browser-based natural language command helper. Sounds geeky – and it is, but oh-so hot. Basically it’s a Firefox plugin that allows you to perform actions and pull information from services without leaving the screen you are in. If a picture tells a thousand words, a video tells a thousand pictures (That’s 1000000 words according to the ubiquity calc command).

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

Being a command line junkie, this is FREAKING AWESOME. Not having to open up a new tab just to find a definition, or to post to twitter stops you from having to make a context switch and break your current thought process. What is even more awesome is that if you know JavaScript, you can really quickly write your own verbs. For example, I just wrote a quick verb called goto that opens a URL in a new tab [Get it here]. Think of the precious seconds I save by not having to move the mouse. It also allows you to annotate websites, and highlight text as well as colour code source that you might find, plus so much more. If you are a geek and you are on the web. Go and check it out.

The new office

When the Beachhouse closed a couple of months ago, I was back to working from home – which was fine. For a while. As much as our cat was keeping me company, it wasn’t really that good at pair programming, as it’s pads kept getting stuck on the keys, so I got off my arse and did what any other self respecting wog would do – asked my uncles (who are real estate agents) if they had any offices available – and they did – in the same building they were in! So just when you though one Eftos was enough, there is now three (sometimes four depending if my Dedo is in).

After 4 days of painting (when a painter quotes $1200 for three rooms, TAKE IT) the new offices are finally (almost) ready! Out of the three rooms that we have out the back of the Eftos Estates building, one still needs one coat of paint, but the other two are all done!Of course I don’t need three offices myself, so good buddies Grant, Alex, Ben and Gary have stepped up and taking up residency at 220s.

Here are some photos of the two finished offices:


So if you are in Leederville, drop in and say hi!

The address is 220 Carr Pl, Leederville (Just look for the Eftos Estates sign)

I took the A List Apart Survey

As is now becoming a tradition (can twice be a tradition?) I took the A List Apart survey for people who make websites. I see Eric Meyer tweeted that 11,000 people had filled it in just as I was filling it in. Not a bad effort for a couple of days :)

I took the Survey

Speaker Program and Workshops are now available

We are now three months out from Perth’s first ever Edge of the Web Conference, so what better time is there is announce the speaker program and workshops! There is come awesome topics there, and I’m really excited about the whole thing! Get the skinny here.

There is also now only a week and a half before entries for the WA Web Awards close, so if you are thinking of entering, hurry the hell up!

Did I mention I’m excited? :)

Edge of the Web and WA Web Awards tickets are onsale now!

Just a quick public service announcment – if you have been waiting to purchase your tickets to the Edge of the Web and WA Web Awards (November 6-7 at University Club in Crawley) then wait no longer! You can now head over and register online.

Ticket prices are a reasonable:

Non Member: $495 (Early bird before Sept 1: $450)

Member: $450 (Early bird before Sept 1: $395)

Student: $299

Workshops (to be announced soon):

Non Member: $225

Member: $200

WA Web Awards dinner:

Non Member: $145

Member: $125

You really should be and register now. Really.

The Original Social Network…

I just gave this presentation to the PRIA Young Guns –  a group for younf marketing and PR people, along with Justin Davies and Ronnie Duncan (from Meerkats – sorry, haven’t got a link).

As you all well know, I’m very much from the technical side of the web, and have been known to be a little critical of some of the more, let’s say, marketing focused people, so the focus of my talk was to show that social networking isn’t all about selling, it’s about interaction. At the end of the day, online social networks should be an extension (not a replacement) for real-life networks and should be treated as such. In real life, if you only call on friends when you want a favour, you aren’t going to have any friends left – and the same applied to online social networks.

I got asked a number of times “How many hours do you spend on social networks?”. It really is the wrong type of question to be asking, because I hang put on Twitter and the port 80 forums (Yes – forums are social networks too) because I have a genuine interest is what is going on with in these groups. It’s not about ROIs or won leads, it’s about conversation. If work comes out of that (and it does) – then fine.

So how was this relevant to a bunch of marketing kids? Well, the point I was trying to make was that interaction creates an association with your and your product, which encourages online “word of mouth” marketing. It’s less in your face and more targeting that whacking whopping great ads all over numerous sites. It’s probably a little harder to quantify, but it is still a solid methodology (says the man with the Computer Science degree).

It really enjoyed listening to Justin and Ronnie. Justin has a marketing degree, but is currently working heavily in the technical side of things, which acted as a great conduit between my talk and Ronnie’s. He made some really interesting points about the changing face of PR (So what would have happened if Apache Gas had a blog?). Ronnie comes from the old school of marketing and advertising (that is the creative, clever side), and although he admitted himself that he had a long way to go to fully grasp what can be done with Web 2.0, his attitude to what can be done was pretty refreshing.

My slides are here.

Previous Next