The 1986 song Land of Confusion by Genesis contains these lines:
There’s too many men, too many people,
Making too many problems,
And not much love to go round
Can’t you see this is the land of confusion
That’s how I sometimes feel when looking at the world of saas/cloud apps. Last weekend I received a US based research note which, among other things said:
Small SaaS accounting packages (Outright, WorkingPoint, Xero, Bill.com, FreshBooks, InDinero, and Wave) are mentioned, and some practical experience with them is being reported. For the most part, they are seen as plausible alternatives to QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online at the low end, but a couple of people see them as an alternative to NetSuite. You saw nothing of them last year.
This is one of the more confusing sets of comparisons I’ve seen. In my mind you have to split accounting away from other related applications. So for instance, I would not put Bill.com, FreshBooks or InDinero into the same bucket as the others. Similarly, as solutions mature, we will see other categories emerge such as those that work internationally and those that don’t, those that are vertical market specific and those that are more generic. And I’d sure like to meet those who see some of these solutions as alternatives to NetSuite. What were they thinking?
When dealing with customer inquiries I find there is a certain confusion around what people should be looking for in a SaaS app. Many fall into the Sage/QuickBooks replacement market. That is not as simple as it might sound except in cases where Sage/QB are overkill. Some are looking for better ways of working while others are looking for an upgrade. In the latter case I’d almost certainly not recommend any of the solutions mentioned in this analyst’s first sentence. In the former there are many more questions to be asked. Which begs the question: where are the trusted advisors in all of this? Has the ability to market directly to buyers created an environment where the advisor is short circuited such that buyers are making decisions that might seem irrational? If so then advisors need to educate themselves before they find clients making the wrong decision.