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What the SaaS industry needs to turn itself around
The first SaaStock Remote, a virtual conference for software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, took place on June 10-11 and featured over 150 speakers and 3000 attendees discussing the changing SaaS landscape in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The conference was hosted via online events platform Hopin, and crossed 900 attendees within a few hours of launch.
The three-day virtual event featured an online partner expo, live networking, a live chat box for participants, and a live virtual stage in addition to several back-to-back discussions, pitch competitions, workshops, DJ breaks, polls, and yoga sessions.
“By moving online, we now have a more accessible, sustainable, and safer SaaStock. We’ll be back in person for SaaStock ’21 in October 2021,” CEO of SaaStock Alexander Theuma said in his opening address.
One of the more influential speakers at the event was Co-Founder and CTO of Basecamp David Heinemeier Hansson. Hansson spoke about correcting Silicon Valley’s ‘hustle culture’, and addressing the drive to build unicorns rather than companies that deliver value.
The event also featured Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Intercom Des Traynor. Traynor discussed product-market fit in the new normal, believing the best way to do it is for companies to find something essential and be good at delivering it.
Another featured talk by CMO of Drift Tricia Gellman discussed how the digital transformation is no longer a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have.
Gellman highlighted that websites are the storefronts of the new normal. Businesses need to create frictionless digital human-to-human interactions and for consumers to engage with audiences meaningfully.
From themes revolving around revenue and growth, to workplace culture and technology, and response measures for the impact of Covid-19 impact, here are our key highlights from SaaStock Remote 2020.
‘Revenue growth through recession’
CEO of Paddle Christian Owens said in his keynote that it was imperative for businesses to audit their churn reduction strategies, and understand what the gaps were.
Cancellation offers (such as allowing customers to pause campaigns instead of permanent cancellations), dunning campaigns, and user activation campaigns were some of the top churn reduction strategies he recommended, based on annual recurring revenue.
He also pointed out that customers react differently to SaaS trends based on geography, recommending Europe as a good testing ground to get more of the ‘low-hanging fruit’.
Owens also highlighted Asia as a lucrative opportunity for SaaS companies, with higher SaaS spends coming from Asian markets, and a strong post-Covid-19 recovery outlook for the region.
For companies to grow, they need to focus on retention, diversify customer acquisition, and improve their monetization strategies, he concluded.
‘ABCs of Growth’
In his talk, Co-Founder Mailshake and VoilaNorbert Sujan Patel recommended a series of short-term strategies to help companies focus on customer-driven growth.
Using the right onboarding strategies, such as customer-centric content, handwritten thank you cards or educational content as an after-sales or support tool, can help to turn around the customer experience, Patel said.
He added that search engine optimization (SEO) tools such as secondary SEO for third-party articles, or link building routes such as mining competitor backlinks, writing guest posts or creating linkable assets (whitepapers, for example), helps to increase brand visibility.
Additionally, while he mentioned that companies should work on turning competitors’ weaknesses into their strengths to differentiate themselves, companies should also focus on co-marketing opportunities with reputable companies to grow their customer base.
‘The future is here: How humans and AI will propel the hybrid workforce’
Co-Founder and CEO Unbabel Vasco Pedro started his talk by pointing out that artificial intelligence (AI) is now a day-to-day tool, and is only going to be more present.
But rather than taking away jobs, Pedro noted that AI has the potential to make jobs more fulfilling, by automating tasks such as customer support for instance.
AI augments the capabilities for human-to-human interactions by automating human-to-machine interactions and routine tasks, Pedro said.
He added that the difference between what the human brain can process in a certain amount of time is much more than what they are enabled to do in that time. AI can help close that gap in allowing people to deal with more complex tasks by addressing the mechanical ones.
Finally, he pointed out that by processing information on a long term scale, AI enhances transparent and effective decision-making by mitigating scope for human ignorance.
‘Finding ‘go to market fit’’
Managing Director of Storm Ventures Tae Hea Nahm discussed routes to achieving go-to-market (GTM) fit, and how companies can sustain their GTM strategy.
After identifying the company’s ideal customer profile and understanding their urgent pain points based on data, companies need to develop a customer-centric GTM playbook that documents tested strategies that the company’s sales team can rely on repeatedly, he said.
Along with listing the dos and says at each stage of the acquisition process, Nahm noted that having a ‘wow factor’ such as a demo as part of the playbook helps to create a lasting impact in the mind of potential customers and lock in conversions.
‘The war is over and the cloud won. What comes next?’
Partner at Scale Venture Partners Rory O’Driscoll discussed the future of cloud in his keynote, noting that despite slower growth, cloud stocks have performed well in the market, and are up 30% year-to-date.
O’Driscoll attributed this to three reasons: the market is delusional, a lot of latent liquidity is being channeled to tech as the best bet, and that cloud is an “unbeatable megatrend”.
As cloud eats up a higher percentage of the software market, the conversation no longer is cloud vs. on-premises, but cloud vs. cloud, O’Driscoll noted.
He also said that with the way the trend is moving, if companies have not taken a decision to migrate to cloud yet, they are very likely to do so in the next two years.
O’Driscoll recommended that cloud-focused startups should try to (a) compete with and replace a current leading cloud services provider; (b) find and enter a market vertical where cloud penetration is low; (c) take on the “intelligent connected world” by building tech that sits on cloud, such as AI, sensor technology, or app-based connectivity.
After clocking in over 60 hours of content, the first SaaStock Remote culminated on June 11, with workshops extending into June 12.
Users can expect a second conference next year. Theuma noted in an opening address that SaaStock online events and SaaStock Remote are “here to stay,” and that the remote conference will be back in June 2021.
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