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Enterprise Software as a Service Market Forecast: The Future is Already Here – It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed

The prescient quote by William Gibson aptly describes the worldwide Software as a Service (SaaS) market today, especially in the enterprise.

Global adoption and growth of SaaS within enterprises is unevenly distributed yet growing rapidly.  One of the primary catalysts moving this forward are Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and other platform providers lowering the barriers to creating new applications, continually investing in security technologies, and streamlining rapid prototyping, testing, and release of SaaS applications.

This week Salesforce showed how extensive the momentum is in their global base of developers during Dreamforce ’11.  The Developer Zone had the most innovation per square foot of any venue at this conference.  Insights gained from visiting the sessions at Dreamforce, speaking with Force evangelists and tech staff, and also with attendees form the basis of the following analysis and insights.  On Friday of last week Gartner also released the report, Forecast: Software as a Service, All Regions, 2010-2015 by Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Yanna Dharmasthira, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster, Tsuyoshi Ebina, Hai Hong Swinehart, which validated several of the trends seen in the Developer Zone at Dreamforce ’11.

Forecasting the Growth of SaaS in the Enterprise, 2015

In speaking with developers, vendors and after reviewing the Gartner report, here are several insights gained that illustrate how SaaS adoption will vary by region over the next four years:

  • APIs are getting more adept at managing multi-party transactions across all platforms.  Marc Benioff and Chuck Phillips alluded to this when Infor announced Inforce this week at Dreamforce.  It was also evident in how partners in the Developer Zone were demonstrating frameworks for supporting more advanced enterprise software application development.  These included supply chain management, the ability to manage complex project plans more effectively using apps based on these APIs, and greater control over collaboration development.  Gartner published their total software revenue forecast for SaaS delivery, 2007 – 2015 back in June, and a table from that analysis is shown below.  Their forecast reflects in large part depth of REST APIs which are part of Web Services.   This table is from the report, Forecast: Software as a Service, Worldwide, 2010-2015, 1H11 Update, 22 June 2011, ID:G00213816, Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster.
  • Graphical interface flexibility, usability options, localization, and local language support dominate EMEA concerns about SaaS.  In Dreamforce sessions attended and in the Gartner report, it’s clear Salesforce is struggling to make localization work more effectively via their programming platforms and tools in EMEA.  This came out during many of the discussions in the Developer Zone as well.  All platform providers are facing this challenge, yet the pace of new API enhancements shows significant potential.  As a result the forecast for SaaS revenue in Western Europe is forecasted to be $2.66B in 2011 growing to $4.8B in 2015, achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% according to Gartner.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is aggressively pushed by Salesforce in the U.S. yet is most effective in EMEA.  This became evident in discussions and presentations, and also was validated by the recent Gartner report.  Salesforce also has extensive TCO calculators on its Force developer sites for the U.S. yet ironically they are finding they are most effective in EMEA sales cycles.
  • Based on my informal poll 20% of iPad-to-Salesforce account demos failed at Dreamforce.    Dozens of companies were hyping their iPad clients at Dreamforce, yet I found nearly one in five failed to deliver reliable performance. While the sample is hardly scientific, it does show that the iPad to Salesforce integration so heavily hyped by so many vendors is still nascent.  It’s as if these companies invested so much on iPad clients they ran out of time to make the back-end integrations work reliably.  Gartner found that lack of integration is the single greatest inhibitor to SaaS growth in North America.
  • Ease of speed and deployment, limited capital expense, and lower TCO are the most critical factors driving SaaS growth in U.S. enterprises today.  This became evident from listening to customer testimonials during the many vendor sessions in Moscone West, in addition to discussions with developers.  The impact of these factors is also evident in the total software revenue forecast for SaaS delivery within enterprise application software markets by region, 2008 – 2015.   This is from the Gartner report, Forecast: Software as a Service, All Regions, 2010-2015. Sharon A. Mertz, Chad Eschinger, Tom Eid, Yanna Dharmasthira, Chris Pang, Laurie F. Wurster, Tsuyoshi Ebina, Hai Hong Swinehart.

  • CRM continues to dominate SaaS usage across all enterprise applications, closely followed by Web conferencing and e-learning in North America and Northern Europe.  Both North America and Northern Europe have comparable adoption trends regarding these SaaS applications, with Western and Southern Europe lagging in terms of adoption and spending.
  • Asia/Pacific continues to be the most fragmented of all regions when it comes to SaaS adoption in the enterprise.  Countries with greater stability of their Internet infrastructures including Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea are experiencing greater SaaS growth, and also contributing to Salesforce’s success in these regions.  Salesforce has 14.5% CRM share in this region, third behind SAP and Oracle. Emerging countries are the most rapid adopters of SaaS-based accounting, e-mail and collaboration-based apps.
  • China, India and Malaysia are experiencing the most rapid adoption of SaaS-based enterprise applications in the Asia/Pacific region.  WiPro’s decision to invest so heavily in Dreamforce as a promotional event is a case in point.  The Developer Zone had  several companies from this region offering their programming and system integration services as well.

Bottom line: SaaS adoption continues to accelerate globally across enterprise software, growing from $12B in 2011 to $21B in 2015, achieving a 16.3% CAGR annually. Platform providers are knocking down the barriers to market growth by using events including Dreamforce to educate, entertain and enable developers to quickly turn concepts into applications.

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