Business applications as a service: The do and don’t lists

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So, you have developed a business application and think using a public cloud is a great way to make it massively accessible to users. You’re not alone; application providers around the world are delivering their solutions as a service, creating a growing market IBM estimates at $22B.

Here are some hints for you to consider before you start offering your business application as a service:


  • Do develop a cloud friendly pricing schema. You are selling your application to a market with particular buying behavior; they expect lower entry/exit barriers and shorter sales cycles. High subscription costs and long term commitment may discourage potential users to consider your solution as an option.
  • Do make sure your users understand how you protect their privacy even if you are using a shared environment. Security concerns are one of the main objections for cloud adoption.
  • Do use industry standards to provide integration points to your application; this way, it will be easier to make it part of a larger solution, thus, making it more valuable to users.
  • Do provide the right level of customizability. You want your users to have a customized application to better fit their needs, but you want them to customize it by themselves, otherwise you won’t be able to reach a massive market. Providing configurable options for the most requested changes will help you to avoid the need to develop unique versions for specific users.
  • Do be ready to fail. You are introducing something new to the market and you expect to have an adoption period before you get to break even. If this takes too long, chances are the solution has a flaw, or just the market is not ready for it. In any case, it will make you lose money. By using cloud-based services, you can avoid most infrastructure sunk costs, making it less costly to retreat if you have to.
  • Do offer “try and buy” options. If you let someone use the application, they will be attracted to give it a try, and then, if they like it, letting it go will be difficult for them because now they might feel like they needed it. Taking advantage of cloud computing dynamic resource management capabilities you can provide controlled trials easily and cheaply.
  • Do leverage existing services; focus on your value added. There is a plethora of existing commodity infrastructure and application services, so you can avoid building everything from scratch. By building only value-added components you can be more agile to react to required changes.


  • Don’t think your business application service, as awesome as it is, will sell by itself. “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work here. Your application needs to be known by potential users; but more important, those users need to know what problem it helps them to solve from people they trust. Use social networks to get users to share experiences related to your business application service (also, you’ll get great feedback for service improvements).
  • Don’t focus on the technical benefits of your application and platform as your value proposition. Remember your potential users might be looking for an application in the cloud because they don’t want to deal with detailed aspects of technical implementation; they just want it to work.
  • Don’t think your application can run in isolation. If you are providing a business service, surely users are willing to use it as part of their business process, so, information sharing with other applications is essential.
  • Don’t port an existing application “as is” to the cloud. Even if technically is possible to deploy instances of your application on the cloud and offer access to it as a service, your business model and implementation process will remain the same. You won’t expand your market but cannibalize your existing business.
  • Don’t try to change buying patterns of your users. A user who is not comfortable with accessing an application in the cloud is not your target; you won’t be solving their problems. If you have chosen your market wisely, there are other customers more likely to see the value of your business application in the service model.
  • Don’t change your company mission. SaaS is a new (great) way to deliver value to your customers, but they buy from you precisely because you provide them value based on your experience and knowledge, not because you delivered through a state-of-the-art channel.
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