I can feel the speed-of-everything accelerating. The vibration of human activity is rising.
In setting Saasu’s group strategy we have to observe what’s going on around us—but not just in our software industry. That’s too narrow, so we look broadly to avoid limiting our creativity which is required for step-out results.
So what are the themes in 2013, and what do they mean for Saasu?
There is a trend away from big devices to smaller devices or multi-device systems. e.g. Saasu recently changed to 12 cores per server in our private cloud. Chip makers stack cores to make immensely powerful multi-core servers, making lots of small devices that mimic the power and effect of a single large device. In astronomy, array telescopes are replacing the dishes (see, for example, the Murchison Widefield Array above). Retail is seeing smartphones and tablets replacing point of sale terminals. You can see a trend in the home also, moving to many small devices away from a single shared PC.
The “Why” cloud question of 2012 is becoming “How”. Adoption is at 5% for online accounting and I predict this will quickly accelerate to 10–15% this year. Marc Andressen was spot on with his comment that “software is eating the world“:
2013 will likely be the crossover year where devices exceed desktops. Saasu left the desktop as the primary design focus some time ago and shifted to tablets and mobile. Customers will expect all the features supported across all the platforms. Old accounting software companies currently building and supporting online accounting for desktops are building the very thing we see consumers starting to abandon.
Socialising applications and content portals are re-wiring many of us into habitually checking for updates, info and insights. Designers of the systems have learned to tap into at least a dozen intrinsic motivators which turns seemingly harmless apps into ego feeding, attention sucking machines. Note it’s not just gamification, this is just one piece.
Humans are responive to guilt and the fear of missing out (aka FOMO). We need to ask: is this forming a type of mental slavery via guilt and missed experience in a social sense?
Getting the attention of your customers amongst all of this emotional warfare for minds is tough. Having a website that ignores most intrinsic motivators doesn’t cut it any more. It has limited usefulness in the attention economy. To keep customers interested you must give them value in every interaction. Buy the right to get their attention next time. Information is a near-free commodity now, so that won’t work. You need to give them what they really want—simplification and automation. That’s about more time which is an essential ingredient for happiness.
Curation is rising to address the information firehose phenomena. The rise of niche social networks is almost certain to cause problems for Facebook this year. You can see the panic already through their acquisitions. Users attention will shift to the networks that best align with their personal and business interests. Standing in front of Facebook’s firehose isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
Sadly, capitalism is changing. ‘Too big to fail’ are for me the most important words acted on in the last decade. Capitalism is now very impure. We are now more than ever exist in a Corporatocracy run by governments and banks. Unfortunately for small businesses, service companies, retailers and manufacturers you aren’t in that club. If you think this is USA only, it’s not. The EU, UK, Australia are all actively heading in this direction. You need tools that cut costs, create efficiency and save time for your business. You directly or indirectly fund Payroll Tax, Company Tax, PAYE, Capital Gains, Super/Pensions, Fringe Benefits, Workers comp/insurances and now Carbon Tax. Expect more tax and expect more compliance. That’s the nature of the system we live in.
One of the big unspoken risks this year is inflation. Unfortunately you can’t keep printing money to save the financial system without a price to pay. Quantitative easing will come home to roost in 2013. The potential for civil unrest is ongoing. Governments will do everything they can to stop that eventuating but the contagion risk is something we have in our risk waterfall. We don’t know what this means for internet and power continuity of service. Outlier “black swan” events are by nature hard to allow for.
In any case we think your data needs to be in two or more locations. A single country, data centre or supplier isn’t acceptable mitigation by our standards. We also think you also need to be able to download your data to your local devices. This may sound contrarian for the CEO of a cloud company to be talking this way, but my career has been about understanding risk. All business models have risks and the cloud’s biggest risk is a dependency on the internet. I know our customers will enjoy keeping a copy of their Saasu file for backup purposes on their own systems.
These are risks I’m describing, not expectations, so read them as precaution rather than paranoia. You should expect all your service providers to openly disclose, assess and deal with risk.
Saasu runs strategic and risk models which look at changes occurring inside and outside our industry. We use these to facilitate good decisions. We know that decision making is the single most important activity a business engages in. For competitive reasons I can’t elaborate on all our decisions for 2013, but here are some that give you some insights into our thinking:
Saasu MKII is in build, and it’s a business application that is a step out beyond other online accounting systems. We recognize that the business owners are the risk takers, they’re the ones with huge emotional and capital investments in their dream. We aren’t shy in saying we exist to solve accounting, operational and compliance problems for business owners. We partner with accounting and bookkeeping firms who have that same vision for their clients as we do.
Thanks for your business in 2012 and we wish you well for 2013.