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SaaS API Management: Up Market In A Down Economy
One period of my career that I always try to keep in mind was my time with Salesforce.com. It was 2002—the economy was in lockdown mode and everyone was looking for innovation on a budget. I started selling Salesforce Automation (SFA) as a multi-tenant SaaS solution, and it turned out to be exactly the right offering for the right market at the right time. Actually, besides being good business, it was great fun. Yes, it was fun to have a solution that was honestly easy to use, went live fast, had a hell of a TCO against all rivals, and actually worked. In a rough business environment, where every sale is critical, SFA was a deal closer, and it helped make the company. I particularly remember some customers who saw SFA as an interim solution—they had a corporate standard, and they’d go back to it when the budget allowed. We all know how that turned out: With a multi-tenant SaaS offering, we were able to deliver capabilities that the market needed, and that competitive offerings couldn’t handle. It wasn’t about putting in thousands of unnecessary features; it was about getting the job done. It’s now exactly 10 years later, and we’re in similar circumstances—the economy isn’t great and customers want more for less. It’s time for the next great round of SaaS offerings to change things. We know companies don’t want to spend too much upfront (and they shouldn’t have to). They won’t have the resources they need to deliver the software they promised their internal customers, and they’re not in a mindset to take too many risks. Last time around, at least in my memory, it was sales that made the difference. This time, integration is the big hurdle. This perennial problem is exacerbated, ironically, by the pace of innovation. The rapid proliferation of form factors, operating systems and applications, not to mention the array of social network channels collectively represent a host of opportunities, and of course challenges. I know there are decent integration tools out there. . . kind of. A few have endless lists of features (just like we got a decade ago with those sales tools), and there are other problems as well. Time to market is a big one—there are so many complexities associated with the products that numerous obstacles need to be overcome before any launch, and it drains other resources in the process. Just when the needs of businesses mandate a quick turnaround and an API can provide a competitive advantage, it doesn’t seem to happen. Which brings us to the promise of a multi-tenant SaaS API Management application—it quantifiably costs less, features a greater reach and offers the potential for enhancing revenue by expediting strategic partnerships. That’s not just good technology, it’s good business.