In the past few years, there has been a marked switch in many businesses from running software in-house to adopting an as-a-service model. One of the big advantages of this is that it removes the hard task of maintaining and upgrading software and hands it over to the service provider.
But what is the next step in the shift to Saas delivery models? Many analysts believe that artificial intelligence and machine learning will drive the next generation of SaaS deployments, making them more responsive to customer needs.
One of the things that AI does really effectively is to deal with large volumes of data. This has benefits for SaaS providers who rely upon data to understand and manage the customer experience. AI can help with training as well as providing ongoing customer service together with promoting and providing upgrades.
This can take the form of automated chatbot customer service systems that take care of customer queries so that only more complex issues need intervention from a human analyst. This can significantly boost the efficiency of customer service teams.
Users of applications want to feel that they are getting an experience that is tailored to their individual needs. If they don’t get it they will quickly look elsewhere. One of the advantages of SaaS is that you can respond quickly to demand for customisation.
This can be in the form of personalised email campaigns, but AI also opens up possibilities for elements such as natural language processing and voice control. It also enables more accurate tracking of user behaviour which can improve the targeting of marketing efforts.
Traditionally, SaaS is priced on a per-user basis. AI offers the ability to switch to a usage-based model driven by features rather than numbers. This may seem a little counter intuitive for the software provider as it could lead to fewer people needing access to the software. However, if the end-user can see a clear benefit, then a more flexible pricing model based upon AI analysis is likely to mean improved customer loyalty and an expansion of the customer base.
One of the major benefits of AI is its predictive abilities. Using past customer data, it can analyse and offer insights into what they are likely to do in future. This information can be used to prompt customers to buy new products or features, upgrade their service and more.
AI can help to deliver a more personalised and proactive approach to marketing communications so that you can identify what your SaaS customers are going to want perhaps before even they do.
In the software business, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence will lead to disruption, just as it will in many other industries. The key for SaaS providers is to recognise this and use the opportunities offered to their advantage rather than clinging to an outdated model and risking losing out to more visionary competitors.
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