Does the World Really Need So Many ‘As-a-Services’?
Microsoft is among a long list of technology companies offering software-as-a-service (SaaS). Likewise, there are companies offering infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platforms-as-a-service (PaaS), and even money-as-a-service (MaaS). Where does it all end?
What began as a unique way of selling technology has morphed into a hot mess. Just about anybody whose business is service-based has been tempted onto the anything as-a-service (XaaS) concept. It is almost too much to bear at times.
It makes sense to go the XaaS route if you’re providing something that historically has been a standalone product. That’s why the XaaS model works so well for technology. But there are cases in which long-standing services are just being re-branded as XaaS services. It is really not necessary. In fact, it can be confusing.
1. XaaS in the Technology World
The XaaS model was birthed from the early cloud technology of the 1990s. Cloud computing gave way to opportunities for offering new services that would take the place of their legacy counterparts. Software was the perfect target of the day. One of the very first entries into the XaaS market was SaaS.
Prior to the birth of SaaS, companies would pay software developers to create the proprietary application they needed to run their businesses. If they didn’t have the money to spend on something proprietary, they chose a package off the shelf. At any rate, software packages were hosted and operated locally. They were managed and maintained internally.
Cloud computing offered a new way of doing things. Rather than buying proprietary software packages and then spending money to maintain them, companies could purchase subscriptions to cloud-based applications. The subscriptions defined what SaaS came to be.
Companies now purchase services built around their software needs. One company might purchase a groupware service while another purchases access to an office suite. Their monthly subscription gives them full access without having to worry about maintenance, upgrades, security, etc. All of those things are handled by the service provider as part of the service itself.
2. Outside of Technology
Again, XaaS makes a lot of sense in the technology world, particularly when you are talking about products that were not previously offered as services. But outside of technology, there are limited cases in which the XaaS model is appropriate.
Consider Mezy, a due diligence provider located in Springfield, Utah. They are not the first company to offer due diligence services to individual investors and companies looking for mergers and acquisitions. Due diligence services were around long before cloud computing was a thing.
Mezy offers diligence-as-a-service (DaaS). But if their services existed before cloud computing, why embrace the XaaS model? Because what they do incorporates modern technology and a cutting-edge cloud-based platform. The addition of the new technology makes the XaaS label appropriate to their business.
In contrast, there are some cloud-based financial services that have adopted the money-as-a-service (MaaS) moniker. This is neither necessary nor appropriate. Why? Because money has always been distinct from financial services. Moreover, financial services have always been services regardless of how they are implemented. Cloud computing hasn’t made a measurable impact on the usefulness of money from the consumer’s perspective.
If we want to be excessive about it, there are a lot of things we could roll under the vast XaaS tent. But should we? Does the world really need so many ‘as-a-services’? Probably not. It is one thing if you are offering a product not previously offered as a service. It’s okay if cloud computing has transformed how you offer your service to customers. But if you are just using XaaS as a marketing tool, you’re being superfluous.