Category Archives: SaaS

An Old Recurring Revenue Model Gains New Converts

An Old Recurring Revenue Model Gains New Converts

An Old Recurring Revenue Model

Due to a range of market forces, a recurring revenue model that’s been used for decades in industries such as airplane manufacturing is undergoing a resurgence. Widely referred to as outcome-based pricing, output-based pricing, and performance pay, it offers companies a compelling way to stand out in a crowded field. Here’s a quick look at what it involves and what it takes to make it work.

With outcome-based pricing, people don’t buy products and services. Instead, they purchase the results those products and services make possible.

It’s not a new idea. For example, the concept of “Power by the Hour” for jet engines first arose in the 1960s. Customers no longer had to buy engines. Instead, they bought the outcome of owning an engine: guaranteed hours of operational performance. As part of the agreement, the engine makers took care of all maintenance and repairs.

rolls-royce

(Image source: betto rodrigues / Shutterstock)

Rolls Royce uses the same pricing method today with its TotalCare program, as do other engine manufacturers such as GE and Pratt & Whitney.

Why outcome-based pricing works

In today’s age of soaring customer expectations and increasing product commoditization, the idea of paying only for results is taking off. For companies, it provides more than ongoing, predictable revenues. Because they’re directly responsible for positive outcomes, it also deepens their relationships with customers in ways other pricing models don’t. It makes them collaborators in their customers’ success.

customers-satisfaction

Here are a few examples of how various industries are using this strategy in new ways:

  • IT outsourcing and managed technical services. Traditionally, customers of services such as outsourced network management pay for labor and resources (aka “time and materials”). But increasingly, through the use of performance-based contracts (PBCs), they now have the option to pay for quantifiable results, such as the number of security vulnerabilities patched or mobile devices supported or the average network uptime achieved.
  • Printing services. With Managed Print Services from Xerox, customers no longer have to pay for printers, toner, and maintenance. Instead they buy only what they really want—successfully printed copies. Xerox takes care of everything else. This same output-based pricing model is found in many “as-a-service” industries today.
  • Heating and air conditioning (HVAC). For years, Trane has offered customers an alternative to up-front capital expenditures for HVAC equipment and services. Through its PACT™ contract (Performance Agreement for Comfort from Trane), customers pay instead for guaranteed annual energy savings. Trane handles all project management, maintenance, and performance monitoring.
  • Truck fleets. With MAN, a German truck and bus manufacturer, fleet operators don’t have to purchase vehicles or deal with maintenance. Instead, for a small fee per kilometer, they get the outcome of truck ownership—access to trucks that are always available, in top condition, hassle-free, and fuel-efficient.

Key considerations

For all of its benefits, outcome-based pricing works well in only certain circumstances. For example, outcomes should be quantifiable and not subjective (e.g., cost savings, specific tasks performed, or benchmarks reached). Here are a few more criteria to consider if you want to know if this strategy is worth pursuing:

  • Direct connections. A direct line of connection needs to exist between a service and the business results it delivers. Determining precise cause and effect can be murky with complex services involving multiple suppliers and vendors.
  • Detailed agreements. Agreements must cover such granular details as what constitutes a successful outcome, who makes that determination, and what happens when outcomes fall short.

If your business can take advantage of outcome-based pricing, it’s well worth exploring. It gives you unique leverage in creating long-term repeat revenues. After all, when you offer customers positive outcomes, chances are they’ll want to buy them over and over again.

By Tom Dibble

Gathering Intelligence From The SaaS Product Manager

Gathering Intelligence From The SaaS Product Manager

The Data Collector

How to Collect Feedback from Users that is Valuable for the Product Team

Gathering customer feedback is one of the key responsibilities of a SaaS Product Manager. In agile development, customer feedback allows SaaS product teams to stay responsive to changes in customer opinion. So when retrieving customer feedback, it pays to have a strategy. That will provide you with the most valuable feedback. Customer input is extremely valuable, and how you interpret it can make or break your product.

To help you avoid the pitfalls, we’ve compiled key tips on how to get product feedback, how to get the most insight from each source, and what to do with the feedback you receive.

Cloud Computing Comic

Don’t be Afraid to Pick up the Phone

Most of the time, customer feedback will not just come to you. You have to go out and get it. So don’t be afraid to directly ask users for their input. However, most people ask in the wrong place. It should be quick and easy for a user to give you feedback. For example, you should not ask users to make yet another username and password to submit comments. Most users would rather not submit feedback than fill out forms to create a profile. Why not pick up the phone?

Capturing the Feedback of Shy Users

cloud-saas-cloudtweaks

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Encouraging users to focus on the positive can also help generate meaningful customer feedback. Typically, people vote for things they have a positive experience with. So on feedback pages, allow users to upvote posts from other users they agree with, while paying close attention to their comments. This is an elegant way to sift through vocal minorities and identify the more valuable shy majority. As last resort you can use technologies that proactively drive the users step by step to providing answers to yes/no questions.

Look for Patterns – Identify Minority Opinions

It does not make sense to make serious decisions based upon the first instance of customer feedback. If one user is particularly vocal about his opinions, be wary; his feedback may not be representative of the majority of customers. It doesn’t make sense for most customer feedback to be acted upon the first time it comes up. There will always be outliers.

Do you have a user who complains frequently about the user interface? Their opinions may not be as valuable as you think. This should however be taken as your first impression on your subject. An impression is when someone sees/hears something; in marketing this is commonly an advertisement.

Very few people act on the first impression, so you need to try to get more impressions. It’s the same with feedback. The next time a customer complains about the user interface bring it up again. After a pattern of these impressions can be established, only then should you bring it up with the product team.

Act on Feedback – Show Them You Care

If you take all your user’s input and lock it up, then collecting it is worthless. Make sure that the product team is “in the know“. Have the product team sit on a call with a customer so that they can sit and listen to user feedback.

When valid patterns in customer feedback have been identified, make sure there is an escalation process in place for these comments. Pre-scheduled feedback meetings between the product team and customer service managers are particularly helpful in identifying areas for improvement. Take a set number of the most popular stories and pain points for your users — do not bring requests to these meetings.

In the words of Henry FordIf I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” So focus on the pain points themselves instead of solutions the customer asks for. When going into these meetings, it helps to have the right attitude. Not everything will be implemented, so saying “no” to some pain points in the short-term is a compromise that must be made.

ford-shelby

(Image Source: Shelby GT 500E Super Snake, 1968 – Sergey Kohl/Shutterstock)

Listening to users is one thing, but acting on them is another thing entirely. Most customers actually do not really expect companies to make concrete changes to their SaaS applications, so doing so will help you stand out.

Customer feedback is an incredibly valuable resource for your product team, and it’s out there waiting. Even though it takes some finessing, your users want to express their feelings and ideas with your company. If the voice of your customers is ignored or unheard, their discontent festers and gets worse. Eventually, getting out of touch with your users will cause you to lose them.

By Boaz Amidor

Working With Cloud White Label Partners

Working With Cloud White Label Partners

Cloud White Label Services

Sponsored by CloudMGR

The benefits of consolidating your cloud to one of the giants such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud are improving as competition increases, with pricing wars between the service providers meaning better savings for businesses utilizing these services, and an abundance of features at user fingertips as each vendor works to one-up their challengers. Many consider Amazon the clear leader with nearly ten years in the market, followed closely by Azure, but frankly, just about all of these providers are working hard to foster their own success, and that means substantial advantages for their users.

Choosing a Provider

Prices continue to drop, though at a lesser rate than years gone by, and leaders are likely to focus on total cost of ownership in the future. However, what was the cheaper service last week could be undercut this week so while it’s important to choose a package that’s cost effective for your organization, in the cloud provider wars costing isn’t likely to be a defining characteristic. Though generally offering similar capabilities with regards to networking, computing, and storage, there are a few distinguishing factors that separate providers.

shutterstock_280866743

The extensive AWS offering linked with their flexibility and openness is a definite plus though the sheer scale of the AWS offering can be difficult to navigate. Microsoft Azure may be a better choice for hybrid cloud solutions as it links into Microsoft on-premises systems well but where AWS offers a host of options for supporting other platforms, Azure is more constrained. Google has shown promise in performance and networking with their cloud offering, but Patrick McFadin, Chief Evangelist for Apache Cassandra at DataStax, believes their lack of understanding of the enterprise market is holding them back. Moreover, Google’s international data center footprint puts them about two years behind their competitors, though it’s been suggested they will be addressing this deficiency in the future. Tackling the public/private debate, IBM is encouraging a hybrid and private cloud via Bluemix, which appeals to organizations not sold on the public cloud concept.

White Label Solutions

Whichever platform you choose, it should be understood that every other organization out there is also making the best use of these same tools. And this is why white label solutions are so attractive. White label services allow customers to rebrand and sell cloud provider management tools under their own personal business umbrella, better differentiating their brands while maintaining healthy margins. Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti has suggested that this needn’t merely be used as a way of distinguishing oneself on the cloud platform itself but instead applied to improve other products and services offered.

shutterstock_402359314

(Image Source; Shutterstock)

CloudMGR’s new line of products for AWS is targeting enterprise clients, Telco’s, managed service providers, and distributors with a white label service allowing customers to repackage CloudMGR services as in-house products with their own services included. A highly flexible solution allowing organizations to provide a customized view and experience of AWS service, CloudMGR’s white label solution offers a unique branded billing view for customers or divisions within an organization, and the extended version with also provide full management and automation capabilities. Use cases might include an MSP managing the production servers while the development team operates the development test environment. Many commentators believe the future of internal IT departments is to act like an MSP to their business units; CloudMGR provides the system to allow this. Customers can then use the billing chargeback functionality of the self-service portal or both.

Helping users manage multiple cross-region AWS accounts from a single interface, CloudMGR saves time and money as it empowers customers to expertly leverage AWS public cloud platform.

By Jennifer Klostermann

New Smartphones From Apple, Samsung and HTC Promise To Light Up 2016

New Smartphones From Apple, Samsung and HTC Promise To Light Up 2016

New Smartphones from Apple, Samsung and HTC

(Sponsored post courtesy of Verizon Wireless)

The launch of the Galaxy S7 Edge at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona during February was the first shot in a vintage year for mobile phones. The S7 is an incredible piece of hardware, but launches from HTC and Apple later in the year are likely to give Samsung sleepless nights in the battle to be crowned best phone on the market.

Get $100 off select smartphones! Enter code VZWDEAL to receive your discount. New device payment req’d. Excludes upgrades.

cloud_173But while the hardware makes battle for top spot, Verizon was able to clinch its fifth consecutive title as ‘best wireless provider’ from mobile network analysts RootMetrics, making it the obvious choice when deciding which carrier to partner your new mobile device with.

Today’s mobile devices are so sophisticated that, as consumers, we barely acknowledge that the devices we carry around with us all day long are such masterpieces of form and function that, to quote Arthur C. Clare, ‘they are barely distinguishable from magic’.

Let’s take a closer look at the latest crop of mobile phones and what they are offering:

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

It was not too long ago that pundits were predicting that the South Korean giants of technology had lost their edge, that they were all out of ideas and that their best years were behind them. What a difference a killer launch of a killer product makes! The new flagship mobile from Samsung, the Galaxy S7 Edge, has been universally praised as the standard bearer of what a mobile phone can achieve.

mobile-phone-smart

An incredible new 5.5-inch HD quad screen brings deep blacks and rich colours to life with the click of a button. The camera has also been improved considerably, and the 12.1MP camera is superb under low-lighting conditions. There’s so much more: from great waterproofing to improved audio, some amazing leaps forward in terms of virtual reality, as well as 4GB of RAM to run all the gaming that the company is betting heavily on for the future.

Right now, it’s safe to say that this is the phone to beat.

Get $100 back when you buy a Galaxy s7 or S7 Edge. New smartphone device payment activation req’d. Upgrades excluded. $100 bill credit applied in 1-2 billing cycles.

HTC 10

What was once an easy sell has become that much more difficult. HTC devices were consistently rated as world-class, but never quite managed the leap to into mass consciousness that Apple and Samsung got right. Their last great phone was the HTC ONE M8 in late 2014, but all indications are that the company is hoping for big things with the launch of the HTC 10 in April.

shutterstock_243804061

Leaks are reaching the press about a Super LCD 5 Screen and a 3,000 mAh battery which would match the Galaxy S7’s power source. Add to that a 5.15-inch Quad HD Display, and a camera which the company is boasting is ‘world first, world class technology’ and you have a phone that could return HTC to the top of the table.

Watch the press closely for details. We’ve got a good feeling about this one.

iPhone S7

Of course, whenever conversation turns to the state of the mobile phone market, people inevitably begin to wonder what tricks Apple has up its sleeve. The rumor mill is never silent when it comes to the colossus from Cupertino, so what are people talking about right now?

Well, there’s every indication that the next iPhone will feature 4k video recording, which will make the video capabilities simply sublime. With the recent release of a critically-acclaimed feature film, Tangerine, that was shot entirely on an iPhone 6, it’s going to be harder and harder to justify buying a separate video camera when your phone is that good at capturing video.

There is also talk of full wireless charging by 2017 for all new iPhones, and of the new iPhone being stripped of its headphone jack. Macrumors reports that “Eliminating the headphone jack will give Apple more internal space for other components, and Apple will also keep the device slim with the continued use of in-cell panels and TFT-LCD display technology.” Headphones will be connected through the lightning port, or via Bluetooth going forward.

Wireless Carrier

wireless

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

No matter whether you go with Samsung, HTC or Apple, all the great hardware in the word can’t do you much good if you’re being held back by the quality of your wireless. The device and the service provider are two sides of the same coin. That’s why Verizon was so delighted to be named as the number 1 in overall network performance in the National RootScore Report for reliability, data and call performance, as well as network speed (for the fourth year in a row).

Free overnight shipping! Must be selected at checkout.

While companies like Apple, Samsung, Sony and many more continue to deliver jaw-dropping devices with incredible features, consumers should demand the same levels of service from the networks responsible for carrying the content and data.

By Jeremy Daniel

How Successful Businesses Ensure Quality Team Communication

How Successful Businesses Ensure Quality Team Communication

Quality Team Communication 

(Sponsored post courtesy of Hubgets)

Successful team communication and collaboration are as vital to project and overall business success as the quality of products and services an organization develops. We rely on a host of business tools to ensure appropriate customer interactions, sound product manufacturing, and smooth back-end operations. However, the interpersonal relationships and communication between teammates are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted to be self-sustaining and sufficiently fortified.

The Roots of Miscommunication

Humans are the most complex systems in any organization. Each individual with their own set of tools and goals, combined into a team which, theoretically, works towards reaching the same objectives. The difficulties of nonverbal communication, misaligned perceptions, and lack of ownership are often intensified because of multi-channel communication tools forcing a pick-and-choose approach to information gathering. This disconnected form of interaction expects individuals to piece together bytes of specific information into one comprehensive message, wasting valuable time, and often resulting in misperception.

How Miscommunication Obstructs Business Goals

employees-digital

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The results of this miscommunication are time delays, inefficient service delivery, and inadequate project outcomes. Employees who don’t understand their roles are bound to perform poorly, leading to delayed project deliveries and finally company losses in the form of customers and profits. Complications or drawn-out communications also result in slow performance, delaying sales and service processes, and so hindering company performance and growth. Finally, poor or ineffectual communication triggers employee frustration, and as studies show time and again, an unhappy workforce leads to a failing business.

Building Good Team Communication

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Miscommunication is easily avoided, and implementing the right tools and processes means not merely the avoidance of misperception but enhancement of quality communication. Implementing one inclusive communication tool, tailored to team operations, ensures teammates are connected and engaged, well-informed, and intimately involved both in business processes and with customers. It’s imperative that the solution implemented for internal and external communication runs as an aggregator of company information, ensuring access to such data by the entire team. Business process information can be automatically stored and easily tracked to avoid dissemination or complete loss.

Employing one of today’s better communication tools means more than placing voice, video and chat solutions at the hands of teams. Hubgets, the app designed to foster a collaborative culture within organizations, extracts, centralizes and makes accessible the information exchanged by employees both individually and at company level through voice, video, one-on-one or group chat, and file transfer. By keeping team communication transparent, the app automatically creates a nucleus of company knowledge which empowers team members to make informed decisions and act fast. For example, employees no longer need to rely on ‘informative’ meetings, which are often both repetitive and time-consuming because they have access to group chats that collect and preserve project and tasks contributions for swift communication and future reference. Pertinent meetings can be more focused, less time consuming, and results driven, thanks to collaboration shortcuts that adequately inform and prepare employees.

Hubgets, a provider of one such solution, ensures instant team and customer connection through voice, video and chat, simplifying collaboration and eradicating miscommunication for enhanced business operation and improved customer satisfaction.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Automation of Access Management Means a Happier IT Staff

Automation of Access Management Means a Happier IT Staff

Automation of Access Management

One of tasks that your IT department probably really dislikes is managing the in-house and cloud user accounts and passwords for all of the employees in the company. Though this is usually an easy task, it is extremely mundane and time consuming, especially for a company that has frequent movement of employees. For a highly technical employee, who has a great deal of knowledge, having them handle account management is a waste of a resource for the company. These employees should spend their time focusing on more technical issues and complex projects for your organization.

password

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

So how can you get your IT department to mind when they are asked to perform tasks related to a user’s account or password? Many solutions are out on the market that can assist with this process and allow the IT department to focus more of their time on technical issues and projects. The following are a few ways to if not love user management then at least like it a bit more.

Allow for account creation and overall management from one single place

Probably one of the most frustrating parts of account management is setting up a new account for an employee in each and every in-house and cloud application. The admin needs to access each application enter the employee information and set their access rights. Chances are that the new employee will need numerous accounts to start their job, and will be left waiting for a few days for the correct access.

An identity and access management (IAM) solution allows for this process to be completely automated. By automating, an individual only needs to enter the employee information in the HR system, check off which applications they should have created for them and voila, new accounts. These solutions work seamlessly for both in house and cloud applications, so any type of application or system your company uses can be easily integrated.

No more headaches from time sensitive requests

The other frequent request is for additional access, accounts or resources created for an employee. An employee often needs to contact a manager or admin if they need access to an application or to make a change to their account. If this request is time sensitive, the employee may continually contact the manager to check up on the progress and see if the change is being implemented. Now imagine these emails coming in from more than one employee saying they need a change as soon as possible.

This process can also be automated and streamlined. Workflow management in an IAM solution allows a workflow to be set up for all of these requests. As an example, an employee needs access to certain application for a project they are working on. They simply make the request in the employee portal and it is routed to the correct person. That person can either accept or deny the request. If accepted, the change is automatically made and the employee will have immediate access. This eliminates the need for anyone to contact the IT department or an account admin to request the change. Workflow works seamlessly with in house and cloud applications so changes can be easily made to both.

Then, if an employee wants to check on their request, they can view the progress in their portal instead of contacting the admin directly. So, admins no longer need to be repeatedly contacted to ask if the change has been made.

Frequent calls for the same issue

What about all of the password issues that the IT department is usually asked to help with? Many IAM solutions also work seamlessly with password management so that these issues can also be drastically reduced. Employees often call in to have their password reset for one or more of their applications when they forget them or are locked out of their accounts. This, like the account change request, is very simple to fix, but becomes time consuming when many employees are requesting fixes for the same issue.

employees

The most popular fix to these issues is to implement password management solutions. Solutions such as a self-service password reset software have been adapted to be helpful to those using cloud or in house applications. This type of solution allows end users to reset their own passwords without having to contact the help desk. Employees can reset their passwords at any time, from any location — even from their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

With all of the accounts that employees need to access every day, they may find it difficult to remember several sets of complex passwords. Single sign-on solutions have also been adapted to work in conjunction with cloud applications. SSO allows users to login in once with a single set of credentials and thereafter gain access to all other applications they are authorized for, easily resolving the issue of needing to remember multiple passwords.

These solutions allow the IT department to focus on actual technical issues within the organization so that they don’t keep getting asked to perform mundane easy tasks that might be taking up a large percentage of their time. With IAM solutions these tasks can be easily automated making the process better for everyone involved, and resulting in a happy IT department.

By Dean Wiech

The Growing Hybrid Cloud And Its Possibilities

The Growing Hybrid Cloud And Its Possibilities

Hybrid Cloud Possibilities 

A recent Tech Pro Research survey found that 68% of respondents were either using or considering using the hybrid cloud, and cutting down hardware costs while still expanding their data centers was their main reason. On the other side of the spectrum, only 1% of respondents believed they wouldn’t make use of the cloud in the coming five years.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions

As organizations recognize the value of cloud services, the demand for hybrid cloud services has increased, though how often this is by choice and how often due to vendor persistence is uncertain. Broadly, most people understand the concept as a commingling of public and private clouds. Says Mary Shacklett, Tech Pro Research author, “Whether or not these respondents understand the technical mechanics of a full-bodied hybrid cloud, most understand the business value proposition that the hybrid cloud concept offers. With a hybrid cloud philosophy, business and IT decision makers know that they can tap into different IT resources, whether internal or external, for services. For example, if you want a certain vendor’s HR/benefits system and the vendor only offers a version of the system in the cloud, it might make sense to join the vendor’s cloud to obtain the capabilities that you want. If you are running out of storage for your data but you don’t want to invest in more storage for data that is seldom used, considering a public cloud vendor with secure storage and strong governance can be a practical, convenient and economical way to address the problem.

hybrid-cloud-infographic

(Infographic Source: ZDNet)

Since the hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud networks, organizations with a reasonable private cloud infrastructure already in place are often more comfortable simply extending into the public cloud through hybrid cloud services than switching wholly over to public cloud solutions. Some industry specialists feel that private cloud solutions haven’t kept up with public cloud solutions, but notes Gartner analyst Lydia Leong, “Not everything can or should be cloud.” One suggested solution is hybrid IT, a strategy that enables existing non-cloud infrastructure to run alongside public cloud infrastructure, and migrate as necessary. Says Leong, “There are these inflection points that might push you towards moving into the cloud. But otherwise you’re fairly likely to move in a hybrid IT fashion for quite some time.”

Data Integration & the Hybrid Cloud

Data integration with the hybrid cloud is one of the bigger struggles organizations have to manage, as it becomes necessary to move data on demand but still maintain independence, security, uniformity, and ease of use. Latency is often a serious problem that affects data mobility though the caching of data and implementation of high-speed networks can assist. Moreover, as the replication of data results in multiple copies, the tracking of the latest versions is another hurdle organizations need to consider. It’s important that the most current data can always be tracked and protected as well as restored, if necessary, from backups. In order to make best use of the hybrid cloud, data mobility and protection are two essential components architects need to address before any integration is attempted.

By Jennifer Klostermann

SaaS Freemium Models and the Hidden Cost of Free

SaaS Freemium Models and the Hidden Cost of Free

SaaS Freemium Models

We’ve all been lured into sexy “try before you buy” freemium models that provide just the right amount of functionality to get you started. Yet, it’s not quite enough to complete the job. “Getting the job done” often requires stepping up to a paid or premium version that provides more functionality, capabilities and rewards.

As much as we’d like to believe to the contrary, the old adage is time tested. “There is no free lunch.”

lunch-time

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Free” more often than not implies trade-off. The trick is to balance these tradeoffs to ensure that your purchase delivers a net positive for your business. Anything less than “free” becomes a misnomer.

For the consumer, this model makes sense for apps that aren’t mission critical. You can preview and buy. If the full version doesn’t meet your needs then you shut it down and move to another application that works better. Switching costs are low. No harm. No foul. No one (but you) is the wiser.

Lately, and somewhat surprisingly, “free” or close to it, has also been applied to larger ticket items – like enterprise software solutions – that have far-reaching and deeper functional capabilities than the latest gee-whiz game or social application. To entice you, some vendors are offering a “free” one-year license or subscription. In these cases, buyer beware of a wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing.

Do Your Diligence

Before committing to a “free” solution, it’s worth conducting some due diligence.

Here are some questions that every buyer should ask:

  • When free isn’t free: What are the additional costs involved? What are the implementation hours, integration costs, migration costs, operational costs, and opportunity costs? In a typical enterprise project, licenses or SaaS subscription cost is only a portion of the overall expense. There is implementation and integration, training and roll out. More importantly, there is opportunity cost. Will your business run better with this solution or with another that is not “free”? Finally, which solution maximizes your time to market the competitive edge you are attempting to gain?
  • There’s more than meets the eye: Ask about hidden costs like professional services charges, forced requirements that requires your business to conform to basic capabilities, lock-up, and switching costs. And, will the product still meet your needs after the initial “free” term has expired? Will you have more options and greater flexibility with another solution?
  • A look behind the strategy: When companies are selling a “free” or “free-for-a-year” solution they are planning to do one of four things:
  1. Use the “free” portion as a loss leader, banking on your long-term success for increased contract values and back-end revenue.
  2. Working to gain market momentum with a flurry of new logos and win announcements.
  3. Lock you into their solution because the implicit and/or explicit change cost makes switching a hassle or worse.
  4. Compete on things other than the solution’s benefits, quality, and value. What do these strategies say about their business and their long-term business goals? And, where does each strategy leave you?
  • Free” isn’t a guarantee of happy-ever after: Purchasing an enterprise solution is like getting married. You want a partner who will be with you for the long term, who will support you, enable you, and grow with you as your needs change. Careful that your “free” solution isn’t a 1 night stand that leaves a six Tylenol hangover. Enterprise solutions need to work over the long term. You are investing not only in software, but in a company that needs to perform over the long haul. Make sure the company is someone you want to partner with and that the “free” product is worth the long-term investment. As Neil Sedaka reminds us, “Breaking up is hard to do.”

Free is rarely free. A “free-for-now” solution might look appealing but initial attractions can run thin after repeated attempts to fix problem areas.
The rule in painting (gardening, remodeling, and countless other DIY projects) can also be applied here: It’s 90% preparation and 10% application. Do your homework upfront. In the end, it might just save you from a costly change order.

By Tom Dibble

CloudTweaks Comics
Low Cost Cloud Computing Gives Rise To Startups

Low Cost Cloud Computing Gives Rise To Startups

Balancing The Playing Field For Startups According to a Goldman Sachs report, cloud infrastructure and platform spending could reach $43 billion by 2018, which is up $16 billion from last year, representing a growth of around 30% from 2013 said the analyst. This phenomenal growth is laying the foundation for a new breed of startup…

Cloud Infographic – The Future (IoT)

Cloud Infographic – The Future (IoT)

The Future (IoT) By the year 2020, it is being predicted that 40 to 80 billion connected devices will be in use. The Internet of Things or IoT will transform your business and home in many truly unbelievable ways. The types of products and services that we can expect to see in the next decade…

The Storytelling Machine: Big Content and Big Data

The Storytelling Machine: Big Content and Big Data

Bridging The Gap Between Big Content and Big Data Advances in cloud computing, along with the big data movement, have transformed the business IT landscape. Leveraging the cloud, companies are now afforded on demand capacity and mobile accessibility to their business-critical systems and information. At the same time, the amount of structured and unstructured data…

Comparing Cloud Hosting Services

Comparing Cloud Hosting Services

Cloud Hosting Services Cloud hosting service providers are abundant and varied, with typical structures affording the reliability of virtual partitions, drawing resources externally; secure data centers; scalability and flexibility not limited by physical constraints; pay-per-use costing; and responsive load balancing for changing demands. While high end (and high price) services offer an extensive range of…

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

The Internet of Things Is About To Explode By 2020, Gartner estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion worldwide. It’s an astoundingly large figure given that the sector barely existed three years ago. We are now rapidly evolving toward a world in which just about everything will become…

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future Of Cybersecurity

The Future of Cybersecurity In 2013, President Obama issued an Executive Order to protect critical infrastructure by establishing baseline security standards. One year later, the government announced the cybersecurity framework, a voluntary how-to guide to strengthen cybersecurity and meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), moving it one…

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

How Formal Verification Can Thwart  Breaches Formal verification is not a new concept. In a nutshell, the process uses sophisticated math to prove or disprove whether a system achieves its desired functional specifications. It is employed by organizations that build products that absolutely cannot fail. One of the reasons NASA rovers are still roaming Mars…

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Cloud Computing Checklist For Startups

Checklist For Startups  There are many people who aspire to do great things in this world and see new technologies such as Cloud computing and Internet of Things as a tremendous offering to help bridge and showcase their ideas. The Time Is Now This is a perfect time for highly ambitious startups to make some…

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

The Future Of Work: What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us To Do Better

What Cloud Technology Has Allowed Us to Do Better The cloud has made our working lives easier, with everything from virtually unlimited email storage to access-from-anywhere enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It’s no wonder the 2013 cloud computing research IDG survey revealed at least 84 percent of the companies surveyed run at least one cloud-based application.…

Digital Marketing Driven by Cloud, Big Data and IoT

Digital Marketing Driven by Cloud, Big Data and IoT

Digital Marketing Successful digital marketing campaigns are being driven largely by trending technologies, specifically the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, and The Cloud. These may be used for a huge number of marketing applications, from optimizing the performance of sports teams to improving science and research, even helping to aid law enforcement. Amazon Web…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive The online (or cloud) storage business has always been a really interesting industry. When we started Box in 2005, it was a somewhat untouchable category of technology, perceived to be a commodity service with low margins and little consumer willingness to pay. All three of these factors remain today, but with…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data (And Why You Need To)

How To Humanize Your Data The modern enterprise is digital. It relies on accurate and timely data to support the information and process needs of its workforce and its customers. However, data suffers from a likability crisis. It’s as essential to us as oxygen, but because we don’t see it, we take it for granted.…

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority Research has revealed that third parties cause 63 percent of all data breaches. From HVAC contractors, to IT consultants, to supply chain analysts and beyond, the threats posed by third parties are real and growing. Deloitte, in its Global Survey 2016 of third party risk, reported…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Is Machine Learning Making Your Data Scientists Obsolete?

Machine Learning and Data Scientists In a recent study, almost all the businesses surveyed stated that big data analytics were fundamental to their business strategies. Although the field of computer and information research scientists is growing faster than any other occupation, the increasing applicability of data science across business sectors is leading to an exponential…

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security It’s no secret many organizations rely on popular cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft for access to computing infrastructure. The many perks of cloud services, such as the ability to quickly scale resources without the upfront cost of buying physical servers, have helped build a multibillion-dollar cloud industry that continues to grow each…

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the…

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises: It’s About More Than Just Dollars

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises: It’s About More Than Just Dollars

Cloud-Based Services vs. On-Premises The surface costs might give you pause, but the cost of diminishing your differentiators is far greater. Will a shift to the cloud save you money? Potential savings are historically the main business driver cited when companies move to the cloud, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a cost-saving exercise. There…