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COVID-19 drives Microsoft NZ's new-model SaaS partners to the cloud

COVID-19 drives Microsoft NZ's new-model SaaS partners to the cloud

SaaS companies come out of all sorts of organisations, not just the start-up community

Andrew Taylor (Theta)

Andrew Taylor (Theta)

Credit: Supplied

Queensland Rugby is one major customer, using Eva's geofencing capability which can allow people to get checked in by location, without going to a gate. 

That's is great in time of pandemic, but also useful to understand how many people are turning up for a game on a Saturday.

While consultative sales are the mode for enterprises, especially in relation to addressing questions around cyber security and privacy, for everyone else, SaaS helps overcome the tyranny of distance by allowing potential customers to discover the app, sign up cheaply for a trial and go.

Bostwick said Microsoft is seeing a lot of organisations that had developed traditional on-premises software and now wanted to turn that into a SaaS product, to go global and to be able to scale without increasing costs. 

So does that require a complete rebuild? That depends.

"Microsoft has a team of experts who will work with partners that come into our SaaS partner programme to evaluate that," Bostwick said. 

"It could be anything from a small project to quite a significant one. A lot comes down to how much technical debt there is in the software, architecture, dependencies on third-party integrations and software elements, and what type of technologies they used to build the software."

It was about sitting down, working it out and creating a plan.

Theta was going through that process with one of its other products, a classic on-premises style, bringing it through and trying to "SaaSify" it and change its architecture, Taylor said. 

"There’s a bit of a journey there. We can see there is likely an intermediate state and then a final state that will be better from a cost management perspective."

With the advent of COVID-19, a lot of organisations were now looking at SaaS as part of their go-to-market strategy, answering concerns around how they can deal with large organisations in the US and elsewhere when they can’t be there personally.

"That's part of what the Microsoft programme offers," Bostwick said. 

"Any large organisation around the world will have a Microsoft connection. There will be an account team or they might have some element of the Microsoft stack.

"We often have connections into those potential customers and we can help SaaS partners, like Theta or Eva, to make connections whether it's working with our sales teams in Australia or the US or UK or elsewhere or using our Marketplace as a starting point to get a bit of visibility."

The days when the CEOs and sales leaders would jump on NZ8 to San Francisco and be on the ground in the US to do the calls, the demonstrations and to sign the the deals are, effectively, over.

"You can’t do that any more," Bostwick said. "It's very hard to sell a piece of on premise software when you can’t be there. 

"It's much easier to scale through things like marketplaces as and give customers a chance to discover it explore it and test it when they can access it as a SaaS product."

But what happens when, or if, the pandemic ends?

Some of the new normal is becoming locked in, Bostwick said and we will be working "hybrid" for the foreseeable future. 

There was an acceptance of that when selling Eva, Taylor said. 

"The barrier to entry is lower, They may be working from anywhere and you could be from anywhere too. That hopefully will persist."

It’s an 'and' world now, said Bostwick, with multiple modes of engagement becoming acceptable or even preferable.

"The travel we saw will take a while to come back and a lot of people asking whether that is sustainable and the right way to do things," he said. 


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