Being a Communications graduate I always had this mentality that what we should invest on and improve is our creativity bank. When I was a student I thought, sure, okay, there is plenty of room to make mistakes, do something out of this world, think outside the box, try to disprove theories and…
Revolution?Yes, you read it right, freelancers in our generation and generations to come will be how the majority of the work force would prefer to be and the thought alone is quite revolutionary. The last revolution which we had observed was that from industrialization and hence the rise of white collared and blue collared discrimination. Everyone wanted to be a white collared professional and being blue collared meant similar 9 to 5 slavery but without the similar working conditions or perks. Now the freelancers are a new breed of professionals who are neither white nor blue collared, they got no collars actually, more of t-shirt individuals.
US alone has 42million freelancers as of 2010 and from a recent survey conducted the US freelancers comprise only 50% of the global freelance market. Out of this huge market about 25% of the total freelancers have been truly freelancers ever since they started working and the rest have been driven to freelancing for either economic conditions or their desire to be more flexible in terms of work environment and terms of employment. Technology also needs to be paid its due credit and with the advent of remote working made possible with websites like www.freelancers.com and www.e-lance.com and skype, freelancing is becoming a more favored option among professionals.
So how happy are these guys? Do they like being freelancers? To answer these questions, we have interesting facts from a survey conducted of 3,700 freelancers, and 90% of them are truly happy with their work life and furthermore around 43% of them get paid lesser but also they work lesser than before. The number of full time freelancers has gone up by 18% over just 3 years (2007-2010) and so did the number of female freelancers. Only 21% of those professionals worked for more than 7 years in an organization. But sadly 48% of the freelancers faced troubles with timely payments from their clients and it remains their biggest headache till date.
Looking at the software side for this huge market, all there is at present at the moment are some project management software and mostly timing, billing and invoicing software applications. It sounds pretty simple and easy and sufficient at first, but is it all that is needed for freelancers to work with ease? Currently 36% of this group of professionals get their work from referrals, rest comes from social media and freelance listing websites, clearly there is no way for them to manage leads better and co-ordinate with them. There is lack of a solution which would help them focus on their business aspects and tell them how well or how poorly are they doing. Analytics for freelancers, client management solutions and some collaboration tools are the software applications this market needs. If the solutions are integrated on a single platform and on cloud, that would be cherry on top perfect!
Just when one thought that a country can alone survive using knowledge and services, it is shocked today to find itself lagging behind in terms of automobile technology and manufacturing. It has a huge number of unemployed mass and is scrambling hard to gain its balance back being strong. Does it mean changing its strategy to include more of manufacturing and less of software a vital key to the situation?
There were days when hardware was simply a box with support for the elegant software to run, enable it to be functional the way it was supposed to be, apple changed it. It was almost like a revolution how the boxes started looking pretty, simplistic and yet elegant, be it a cellphone, a laptop, desktop anything and everything. However, Apple wasn’t a hit in a day, it evolved and the evolution caught up with the whole world.
The story of the hardware evolution it is pretty much like the evolution of the legendary apple logo. In its initial days it depicted newton with an apple, depicting innovation and ingenuity, among the trees and scenery and other not so essential details. Moving on, the essentials were separated from non-essentials and we have the multi-colored apple, and the changes were not just in the logo alone but also in the looks of the hardware. 1998 marked the launch of iMac and the iconic new apple logo, very bare minimalistic and quite stripped down from the traditional overload of features but in hardware and the supporting firmware. It was not a very welcome thing as far as I remember, people complained and then they loved it. And then everyone wanted the way apple was, simple and minimalistic.
Today every cellphone wants to resemble an apple iphone, every laptop wants to be thinner and sleek and most of all with elegant streamlined. Apple has even influenced the way software that run on the phones, how they look and function, it is no longer complex, menu after menus, it is all laid out in front of you. So far, only commercial software reflect the apple influence, it is not far that all business applications try to reflect the same as well. After all, the apple products are used by professionals across the globe. The following charts show the breakup by age for both iPhone and I touch products—
Clearly,78% of iPhone users are in the age group of 18-49, working professionals and hence they are also used to the way the apple software works stripped down and simple, covering just the essentials. Business applications and software products today, if they want to capture this huge market of professionals has to be present in the appstore of apple and also live up to the definition of software defined by apple. Gone are the days when you have highly complex, convoluted menus and boring interfaces, design takes precedence and sure does simplicity. Welcome change for sure, for everyone.
Thank you apple, you “Finally” changed it for all of us!
Software as a service model is bringing specialist software to small to medium size businesses like never before. Its a great news for the SMB business owners, and the market size is huge across the globe so why hasn’t the saas caught a wildfire by now already? Aren’t there Independent software vendors(ISVs) who are making such software? Of course there are saas ISV’s but there is a middle problem, the channel. So far, the traditional software were expensive and to implement the same took ages and then further time went in training people for using the software, the very difficulties had created a huge middle market called as Value added resellers(VAR) whose bread and butter were earned from re-selling such non-saas software.
Now for the saas, the implementation time, the huge at a time expense and to top it all, the extensive training are all cut down to the point of extinction. The modern saas software are all easy to use, pay as you go model and instantaneous to start using, hence the role of the VAR is cut down to almost nothing. So the middle market which used to be the most important channel for traditional software’s can no longer be considered for the modern saas software, there is barely any money to be made by them apart from the meager commission fee on the low cost software.
There have been suggestions of using banks and telco’s as the resellers as they are the ones who have a huge repository of the SMB’s and have a strong billing and collection system in place. But are they the right candidate to partner with for selling saas to SMB’s? The concern of the telco’s remain how to sell their packages of hardware incrementally such as phones and notepads to the huge SMB network and bundle the software application along the way. The SMB users across the globe are not entirely happy with the telco service providers for various reasons such as bad network, incorrect billing statements, difficult to get support from customer care which is more often than not lousy, so expecting them to sell and keep customers happy is not a very bankable idea for the saas ISVs. Second option suggested has been the banks. Banks are even less successful at the job than the telco, they might be excellent with their finance but expecting a bank to sell you a business software is more often than not quite an amusing idea to most of the people you may ask. Unless the bank is suggesting you some personal finance and other finance related software, which makes sense.So who fits the bill now?
The channel partner for the saas ISVs has to be a company which has a close online relationship with the SMBs. If you are expecting to sell an online based software your channel partner should be based online too. People use several online products today day to day in their lives, google, facebook, amazon and so many more. Perhaps these could be the channel partner ISVs should look for? Google is already running its appstore and is populated with many software with a live feedback from its current users. Its certainly lacks the famous human factor as once was the concern when online applications were coming up, but the very reason can be its strength. Because of low investment in manpower, these channels would be able to make better money than the traditional VARs.
There are only few big names who are currently doing this and hence there is a huge space in this arena for new players to come and grab the opportunity. Maybe saas will be a wildfire once the channel partner goes online too?