Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
-- From Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"
Spent some time with more really smart folks at Oracle last week. Yeah, this people are really smart...I'm still wondering how they let me in the door.
During that time, I probably had three separate conversations with different people on how SaaS changes the consulting model. Frankly, implementation is no longer a big money maker in the SaaS game. The combination of reducing the technology overhead, reducing customizations, and a sharp focus on customer success is killing the IT consulting goose that lays the golden eggs: application implementation. You can see indications of it just in the average cycle times between subscription and go-live: they're down to about 4.5 months and still on a down trend. Bringing SaaS customers up in less than 30 days is something Oracle can see on the near horizon. Unfortunately, as the cycle times for SaaS implementations shortens, it gets more difficult for an implementation partner to generate significant revenues and margins. The entire model is built around 12-t0-24 month implementations - SaaS make those time frames a thing of the past.
So, if I were a SaaS implementation partner today, what would I do? Frankly, I'd be switching to a relationship - retainer approach with my customers (not my idea...all those smart people I mentioned suggested it). I'd dedicate teams that would implement SaaS, extend SaaS functionality, test new upgrades prior to rollout, and maintain your SaaS apps. I'd build a relationship with those customers rather than simply attempt to sell implementation services. The value to customers? Your workforce focuses on the business rather than the software. You need new reports or business intelligence? Covered in our agreement. Test this new release before we upgrade our production instance? Covered in our agreement. Some new fields on a user page or an add-on business process? Covered in our agreement. Something not working? Let my team deal with Oracle Support...covered in our agreement.
Other ideas? The comments await.
The times they are a-changin'...quickly. Better start swimmin'.