Platform Leadership in Software as a Service: How Platforms Facilitate Innovation

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1 Platform Leadership in Software as a Service: How Platforms Facilitate Innovation Bartłomiej Kołakowski Judge Business School University of Cambridge Based on an MPhil dissertation for Technology Policy course at the University of Cambridge (supervised by dr. Michael Barrett)

2 The Platform Concept Third party providers of complementary products (component suppliers) Users Complementors Platform provider Platform sponsor Platform the core product that is easy to connect and build upon Network effects positive feedbacks between end users and complementars Source: Eisenmann, Parker and Van Alstyne (2007) Network Platforms Core Concepts, The MIT Center for Digital Business Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 2/23

3 Platform Strategy Levers* Scope of the firm Setting offering boundaries. What should be built in-house, what externally? Product technology Platform strategy balancing between what is good for the company versus what is good for the third parties, end users and the industry as a whole. Choices about architecture and interfaces. How much of the IP can be disclosed? Relationships with third parties Competitive versus collaborative relationship. How to balance platform firm s and third parties interests? Internal organisation Creating open innovation mindset. How to adapt to the changes in the environment? * Gawer and Cusumano (2002) Platform Leadership. How Intel, Microsoft and Cisco Drive Industry Innovation, Harvard Business School Press Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 3/23

4 Cloud Computing Service provided by datacenters in a pay-per-use model Cloud Computing Applications delivered over the network Utility Computing Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud Computing features: - Scalability - Pay-per-use model - Virtualisation (different levels) Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 4/23

5 SaaS Platforms Cloud computing Utility Computing Software as a Service (SaaS) Infrustructure as a Service (IaaS) Platform as a Service (PaaS) runs on SaaS Platforms software and hardware systems used to build and run SaaS applications IaaS: PaaS: low virtualisation level e.g. Amazon EC2 higher virtualisation level, often application specific, e.g. Google App Engine Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 5/23

6 SaaS Platform Offerings Amazon Google Salesforce.com Software as a Service Google Apps Salesforce CRM Cloud Computing Platform as a Service Infrastructure as a Service Amazon Web Services Google App Engine Force.com SaaS platforms (Adapted from Balakrishna Narasimhan Cloud Computing Savings - Real or Imaginary? ) Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 6/23

7 The SaaS Platform Ecosystem End users Component suppliers - SaaS application providers SaaS platform provider and sponsor SaaS platform provider unlike in the traditional software cannot charge end users for the platform Component suppliers provide SaaS applications for end users and tools and services for other complementors End users buy applications from component suppliers, that are delivered on SaaS platforms Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 7/23

8 SaaS Platform Leaders? (1/2) The conditions for platform leaders to emerge*: Positive and strong network effects. Little room for differentiation. Not easy for users or complementors to own more than one platform and to switch between them. * Eisenmann, Parker and Van Alstyne (2006) Strategies for Two-Sided Markets, HBR Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 8/23

9 SaaS Platform Leaders? (2/2) Network effects Differentiation Force.com Strong Important Google App Engine Amazon Web Services Moderate Weak to Moderate Moderately important Not important Costs of owning more than one platform Moderate for end users High for complementors Low for end users High for complementors Very low for end users High for complementors PaaS type platforms (Googel App Engine & Force.com) differentiation is important IaaS type platforms (AWS) network effects are not strong enough Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 9/23

10 How SaaS Platforms Facilitate Complementors in Innovation 1. Providing Scalable Infrastructure on a pay-per-use basis 2. Providing Software Components, Common Applications, and Tools 3. Exposing Application Data 4. Lowering Transaction Costs Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 10/23

11 Providing Scalable Infrastructure On a Pay-per-use Basis AWS and Google App Engine paid for computing resources used (CPU power, storage, bandwidth) Force.com paid for number of users (or free) Complementors benefits: No up-front investments in hardware required No need to scale the infrastructure, when demand is uncertain Mitigating the risk of innovation failure No expertise in hardware maintenance required Taking advantage of economies of scale Animoto generating slide show videos from pictures (resource intensive) Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 11/23

12 Providing Software Components, Common Applications, and Tools Examples: Multi-tenancy and metadata configuration on Force.com Amazon DevPay payment solution for SaaS applications Google Accounts authentication service for third party services Complementors benefits: Faster development Inheriting the platform firm s reputation Can focus on innovation in the application logic Development savings ( ) ranges from 2X to 10X faster than traditional development. CIO of a Salesforce.com s partner Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 12/23

13 Exposing Application Data Examples: Google Apps API - calendar events, contact data, Salesforce.com s CRM data accessible through Web Services API Complementors benefits: No need to build their own data sets Opportunities in combining data (Innovation in Assembly*) Appirio Campaign Timeline multiple campaigns data from Salesforce.com displayed on Google Calendar * Tim O Reilly What is Web 2.0? Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 13/23

14 Lowering Transaction Costs Examples: Google Solutions Marketplace, Salesforce.com s AppExchange and IdeaExchange Assisting in marketing and evangelising successful complementors Complementors benefits: Easer to reach the market Gaining credibility Salesforce's leadership in the market and strong customer relationships are a great help to partners. (...) our association with Salesforce brings us a lot of credibility in sales situations. Manager of a Salesforce.com partner Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 14/23

15 What Are The SaaS Platforms Barriers to Innovate 1. Platform Lock-in 2. Security and Privacy Issues 3. Concerns about Reliability Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 15/23

16 Platform Lock-in (1/2) Platform firm s interest high switching costs Complementors threats: Price increase Unfavourable changes in the ecosystem Platform going out of business Levels of portability: Application portability Data portability Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 16/23

17 Platform Lock-in (2/2) Application Platform Platform Data portability Addressingportability the issue: lock-in Not portable Force.com - Standards, Not portable High (Apex e.g. language) Open Cloud Manifesto (not supported by the main companies) Google App Engine Mostly Portable - Migration tools Not portable (BigTable) Moderate Amazon Web S3 - Not Portable - Allowing others Portable to provide platforms with Low Services DB server Portable the same interfaces - Clear roadmap Force.com the highest level of lock-in Amazon Web Services the lowest level of lock-in Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 17/23

18 Other Drawbacks Security & Privacy Issues => Strong privacy policies => Encryption Concerns About Reliability (Outages are not very often, but out of complementors control) => SLAs => Dashboards with the system status Constrain SaaS platforms applicability in some domains e.g. financial services Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 18/23

19 Summary SaaS platforms facilitate innovation because they: Lower financial barriers to entry Lower technical barriers to entry Help in reaching the market There are some drawbacks, especially the platform lock-in -> opportunities for complementors (e.g. providing migration tools) Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation 19/23

20 Thank you. Any questions?? Bartłomiej Kołakowski - Platform Leadership in SaaS: How Platfroms Facilitate Innovation

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