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How B2B SaaS Companies are Changing How Work Gets Done in the Heartland

June 10, 2015 by Jeremy Almond

…and giving big business a new lease on life

 

Unable to get to the office from yet another blizzard last winter, an HR manager in Buffalo logs into Zenefits to
submit payroll, update health insurance and hire new employees, all from a single dashboard. In Cleveland, a pharmaceutical sales rep checks the Salesforce app on her smartphone to find out a medical practice’s least busy times of day. At a warehouse just off I-70 in Missouri, a truck driver snaps a photo of a check using PayStand’s mobile app, instantly syncing the payment to the accounting system at HQ.
 
Aaron Levie, the founder/CEO of Box, recently remarked that “Enterprise software used to be about making existing work more efficient. Now, the opportunity for software is to transform the work itself.” 
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Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing companies are the ones who are driving fundamental changes in the cost centers universal to big business—HR, accounting, marketing, document management, and now payments. These cloud-based SaaS platforms are gobbling up the “overhead” functions in big companies, modernizing the day-to-day activities of employees, and making a big impact on the bottom line.
 
A new alliance
The result has been a win-win for big business and the software industry, which for decades had an uneasy relationship. Traditional enterprise software was hampered by high licensing costs, ongoing maintenance issues, long upgrade cycles, and tech support burdens. To further complicate matters, enterprise customers often requested custom features, resulting in multiple variations of the core product the software vendor had to maintain.
 
Today, the founders of the top B2B SaaS companies are considered heros by the CEOs of their enterprise customers (As an example, Levie tours the country as the guest of honor at “steak dinners” where local business leaders pack the room for the chance to see a demo of Box’s latest features).
 
Why has this shift in the dynamic between big business and high-tech happened? Mary Meeker observed in her Internet Trends Report 2015 that many B2B tech founders are focused on pain points they experienced themselves working at large companies. By targeting specific business processes that are universal to the enterprise (and universally frustrating, costly or time-consuming), today’s SaaS companies are more closely aligned with their end-users. Because it’s so easy to try out a Web-based platform, middle managers can test a solution and sell it internally to the decisionmakers in their companies.
 
From Dinosaur to Dominant
It’s not enough just to relieve pain points and streamline business processes, however. At the same time that big companies are adopting SaaS solutions to modernize outdated processes, they realize that they need to avoid driversmartphone-1becoming dinosaurs themselves and defend their own core businesses from disruption. So they’re looking for software solutions that not only will improve their bottom line, but give them a competitive edge going forward. The SaaS solutions coming out of Silicon Valley and other tech hot spots are giving the aging businesses in “flyover” states a new lease on life. Ironically, it’s the big companies that held on to paper-based, pre-digital processes the longest that stand to see the most transformative results by moving those functions to SaaS platforms.
 
At PayStand we’ve seen how powerful the switch from analog to digital processes can be for a company that needs to focus on its core manufacturing business. We’ve been working with a multi-billion dollar beverage company to modernize the way they collect payments from their distributors. Until recently, their sales reps would literally drive around collecting paper checks from their distributors, often waiting hours on-site for a check to be processed and hand-delivered. The inefficiencies of this system are obvious to the company’s executives, but previous attempts to modernize were doomed by an inflexible, proprietary system and lack of adoption on the client side—the distributors who were writing the checks.
 
When we showed them how their sales reps could use PayStand’s mobile app to take eChecks from distributors, even automating payments for standing orders and depositing paper checks with photo check capture, they saw an opportunity to modernize a core business process with a minimum of friction and cost. Not only have they eliminated the wasted hours spent waiting for check payments, the company has instant access to a wealth of payment data, fully synced with their backend accounting system.
 
Whether it’s for payments, HR, accounting, marketing, sales, etc., here are the top reasons B2B SaaS platforms are transforming how America works:
 
-       Data is always up-to-date, accessible from anywhere. Cloud-hosted SaaS platforms ensure that everyone in the enterprise can access the latest data, wherever they happen to be, even from their personal mobile devices (BYOD). Not only does this enable businesses to be more data-driven in their decision-making, but APIs make it possible to sync data between multiple databases in the organization.
-       Ongoing development and maintenance completely offloaded from internal IT. CIOs love SaaS platforms because it allows their IT departments to focus on their core expertise, and know that the SaaS vendor will continue to build in new features and functionality, essentially “future-proofing” their business. They can also offload the internal tech support burden, freeing up staff for higher ROI activities.
-       The economics make sense to top execs. SaaS platforms allow companies to adopt new technology for a low-up front cost and amortize its costs over several years. Often, they can pilot test a platform for free, proving its value before allocating significant resources to it. This is a big change from the old days of licensed software, in which the costs were borne up front, and decision-makers had to gamble on whether the solution would do what the salesperson claimed it would.
-       Huge efficiency gains reveal growth opportunities. When a SaaS platform can do the work of an entire department, businesses can take the cost savings and put it toward growth areas. In competitive or low-margin businesses, that’s an opportunity that can make a difference in the long-term success of the company.
 
Curious about how Payments-as-a-Service works to transform businesses at the enterprise level? Get in touch for a demo and free trial.

Tags:   SaaS, eCheck, B2B, Enterprise payments