This Isn’t A Hope and A Prayer: SaaS Takes Center Stage at ITA

The Fall Collaborative of the IT Alliance was held this past week (December 3-6, 2011)  in Austin Texas. The closing session “The Cloud – SaaS Best Practices” moderated by Avalara’s Rob Johson and presented by a panel including Taylor Macdonald – VP Channel Sales Intacct, Jaqueline Tiso , President JMT Consulting and Craig West VP Channel Sales at Netsuite.

Record attendance of 260 technology members was announced. Most IT Alliance members provide mid-market ERP or related services. The conference is marketed as a collaborative and is heavy on member to member sharing of experiences.

One of the hottest topics at this year’s event was cloud computing. Each conference day spotlighted sessions on creating, adapting and how to change a VAR practice to market SaaS offerings which typically charge customers a lower initial price which means VARS have had to retool their thinking about how to market and provide SaaS services.

During last year’s ITA Fall 2010 collaborative I noted that most IT Alliance member VARS who had adopted SaaS as a business offering were in the early stages of ramping up and offering services. This meant there was not much live feedback about actual results of converting from an on premises to SaaS VAR.

This year’s conference was different and one session about SaaS business best practices featured a prominent Sage partner – Jackie Tiso of JMT Consulting - who is  a 9 year Sage President’s Circle winner and one of their top Non-Profit VARs. Jackie and her firm have been providing a SaaS solution since October 2010.  Here are some notable results that Jackie shared during her session.

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SaaS Consulting: It’s Almost Like A Menu Thing

ZD Net has an interesting article on Netsuite’s latest channel offer. Essentially it looks like they’ve extended and improved their “you keep all the money for the first year” offer for VARS.

What I found most interesting was actually buried mid-way through the story — and it was this quote from Craig West:

My sense from participating in extensive threads on this topic is that the VAR channel remains wary of SaaS/cloud solution selling. It requires a fundamentally different mindset to selling on-premise solutions where the raft of available add on services is extensive. Craig agreed with my assessment that the vast majority don’t ‘get it’ or remain reluctant to give up their ancillary service support deals: “I think what’s more interesting is this burgeoning whole cloud consultancy thing where they are building whole portfolios that are not just ERP or CRM but collaboration, email, security and telephony. It’s almost like a menu thing.”

I’ve said for a while that SaaS is coming. I don’t know how quickly our customers will demand it. For now it seems mostly to be companies who fit the SaaS model (need strong accounting, revenue recognition, professional services) and have many remote locations where there is true cost savings in using SaaS versus having multiple remote offices wired to a central server. [Read more...]