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CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

Consumerized SaaS Enterprise Apps to create a Dent

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Based in San Fransisco, 15Five provides SaaS based products to enterprises. Founded in 2011, the company has raised a total funding of $1 million from 500 Startups, David Sacks, John Ham and Jason Calacanis.

There is a new standard for design emerging, both aesthetic and usability-wise. Enterprise users are now demanding applications that are useful, easy and pleasant to use. Companies that have a strong design sense will create a long-term sustainable advantage over their competition.

Apple was ultimately responsible for spearheading this trend with their work over the past decade of bringing beautiful industrial design and simple intuitive interfaces to computing devices, inspiring other hardware and software companies to follow suit. In turn people’s tastes have changed and what they see as acceptable has changed along with it.

The move to more consumerized SaaS enterprise apps that are more cleanly designed and self-service in nature is going to have a dramatic effect on the industry in coming years. Yammer was a big success story in this approach and many companies, including 15Five, are following suit. These types of services can be adopted and used by employees at any level of the organization without a complete enterprise deployment. In some cases it makes sense to let a small group of employees use a particular tool directly if it has them be more productive, however it often makes sense to eventually do an enterprise-wide license if there is already wide adoption in the organization and where CIOs want a higher level of administrative control over their use.

Retaining a Strong Technology Team is a Challenge

A cycle where there has been a lot of angel and other capital invested in both consumer and enterprise technology startups, as well as a number of technology companies growing very rapidly and/or going public has passed. This has led to a very hot market for both designers and software developers, so attracting and retaining a strong technology team is a one of the biggest challenges. It requires being able to offer prospective employees a competitive salary and benefits, but also the opportunity to work on something meaningful and that they care about.

Another challenge is that as there are ample enterprise tools in the market, an entrepreneur has got to make sure that one is creating significant and important value for their customers through their products.