One of the biggest trends for SaaS over the next five years is new products that offer prescriptive solutions in place of general tools. What I mean is that there are a number of well-defined categories like CRM and ERP that are essentially customizable front-ends to specialized databases (e.g. CRMs are mostly contact management databases). These new products are still going to have the specialized database behind the scenes, but the front-end is more of a business process management system that actually tells the user what to do next.
Let’s take a look at SalesLoft (disclosure: I’m an investor) as an example of a prescriptive solution:
- Configure a multi-step cadence that outlines the business process (e.g. flow of emails, phone calls, social outreach, etc. over a period of time)
- Based on the sales rep’s role, the cadence tells them exactly what to do and feeds up the next activity for them to perform (e.g. call this person now and it has an auto-dialer to dial the phone for them — the software holds their hand)
- Activities are constantly analyzed in an effort to improve the process and make the sales reps more successful
Now, compare the prescriptive solution to a standard contact management tool. Contact management tools have the specialized database with contact info, lists of people, etc. but they are merely databases where the user has to figure what to do and how to best interface with it, not business process engines. Look for more prescriptive solutions to emerge that make people much more productive at specific functions.
What else? What are some more thoughts on moving from general tools to prescriptive solutions?