Roppongi Midtown was awash with Enterprise 2.0 yesterday and today, as vendors, startups, mashup developers and numerous grey suits gatherered for IDG's SaaS World 2007 Conference and Demo.
The two days saw 40 main sessions, a dozen mashup presentations, and a series of open talks in the exhibition hall, where about 50 companies had booths.
The audience was very much business IT oriented, and the event was packed. It seems that Japanese corporates are keenly interested in the SaaS model, and the agility, ROI and unparalleled integration possibilities it promises.
My main takeaways....
Rise of the Platform .... Return of the Vertical
Industry Portals ... remember them? Around 1998 people started to think about content and destinations that could serve a particular industry or domain. Well now we have a selection of vendors providing SaaS Platform, enabling a model for customers to create functionality to serve a particular industry or domain .... functionality means business, and business means money - there are a multitude of places to strategically position cash registers in the new model.
Platforms turn Customers into SaaS Vendors
ASP, Mashups, integration with Internet and internal data ... it's all there. But once you put something together, the openness of the APIs allows leverage that has not been possible. If a company or industry organisation puts a SaaS app together on one of the many new platforms, then it is a short step from that to generalising the app and making it a SaaS service of it's own accord.
Which means new models for SIers
Nexaweb have one of these SaaS platforms, and have an ecosystem where partners development on it. A presentation by one of these partners - Global A - caught my attention. They will redevelop a legacy application on the Nexaweb platform, and absorb some or all of the risk or cost, in exchange for a share of ongoing revenues from customers. One application developed under this model - a "mini-ERP" system for managing building materials - began life as a complex Microsoft Access-based application running on the customers' local systems. Moving this to a SaaS model not only allowed them to replicate the rich functionality with AJAX in the browser, but also extend its reach up the supply chain to incorporate direct e-Commerce with the companies' suppliers - something barely conceivable with the desktop app. Opportunities abound.
I will post a series of reports about the sessions over the next few days ... keep an eye on your RSS :)