To manage and grow during an ongoing and post-COVID-19 world, technology firms must improve their business and partner connections while also boosting the customer experience. They need to enter a new era of collaboration and innovation, where the big players and startup-size firms work together for mutual gain. The emerging “new normal” is already showing the need for seamless and engaging digital experiences. To capably provide these experiences, firms need agility and to develop their business “ecosystems” to connect with the right partners and customers.
Short and Long-Term Challenges
SaaS firms and other technology companies face challenges with COVID-19, including increased competition for customers, and roadblocks to attracting investment and lucrative partnerships. But within these challenges lies opportunity for these firms to adapt their service offerings to match the shifting needs of post COVID-19 consumers and business customers.
Tech firms need to respond to these rapidly changing conditions, but there are roadblocks. Startup firms often struggle to gain inclusion to the best opportunities because they are normally reserved for the biggest tech companies. They need new ways to connect with the “big guys” to have a seat at the table and offer their unique advantages in terms of agility and ready-made solutions. During COVID-19 there’s a natural
a tendency to focus on survival mode overgrowth. Firms need to manage costs, of course operate safely, and work hard to stay in business. However, to move forward and bring about the next stages of innovation, SaaS firms must find new growth paths. This includes strategic partnerships and developing the customer experiences that make sense with the new customer expectations and new social regulations.
The Time for Connected Platforms
Online platforms that encourage businesses to connect with their entire ecosystem are needed for driving growth through COVID-19 and beyond. The “ecosystem” in this context means the entirety of a company’s customers, prospects, business partners, and vendors—any entity the company relies on for revenue or simply running a certain part of the business. Enabling this type of connectivity requires new types of platforms that are purpose built for inclusion and collaboration.
For examples of this type of dynamic in action, consider the ways Shopify impacted online store startups by providing them with a customizable yet simple sales platform. Or consider Tinder’s role in adjusting the ways young adults meet and date (at least before COVID-19). Both platforms changed the user experience and streamlined certain functions, and similarly people-focused platforms that connect business ecosystems can generate similar transformative results.
Recognizing Pain Points
In the “Biggest Pain Points Worrying Today’s SaaS Business Leader,” Oracle found that the main issues troubling SaaS company leaders are accelerating sales, attracting and retaining customers, and managing product offerings. These common pain points facing the industry, have been accelerated even further during the pandemic. The report also states the pressures are acute for smaller firms, with “companies with 25 or less employees state that they have difficulty contacting buyers and decision makers.” And it states SaaS firms with 50-100 employees struggle with talent acquisition efforts, as “These SaaS business leaders believe they are not securing the right sales talent to close deals needed for sustainable revenue growth.”
These pain points, and others surrounding product development and customer acquisition are ripe for improvement. One route for aiding these issues is through usage of a platform that broadens exposure to firms of all sizes, along with partners, prospects, and vendors.
Membership-based business development communities such as those offered by DealRockit enable users to greatly expand and nurture their business ecosystems without having to leave their homes or offices. The platform encourages all types of stakeholders to come together on a “LinkedIn on steroids” model, where communication and collaboration happen organically.
The benefits of a broadened ecosystem can help SaaS firms to solve various pain points. For example, greater access to buyers and channels can provide smaller SaaS companies with new opportunities. These platforms also connect buyers/investors and sellers/capital seekers, providing another route for SaaS firms that should consider buyouts and strategic partnerships as the best way to get through the pandemic crisis.
On the employee and talent front, a better type of business membership platform allows bigger companies to access the right talent with less effort. Colleagues working remotely can also benefit through deeper ecosystem connections, where they brainstorm strategies to solve the unique problems posed by COVID-19, as well as product development or strategy questions.
Using collaborative platforms also provides a unique opportunity for the biggest SaaS firms to actively team-up with smaller companies, creating a virtuous cycle where everyone wins. An invitation-style platform such as DealRockit enables a larger firm to invite all its employees and partners into a contained ecosystem, which grows exponentially when that group invites referral partners, clients, prospects, and vendors. It builds connections between previously unlinked people and companies, which then opens ideas for new ways big and small firms can generate growth together. As innovation proceeds at a blistering pace due to compressed cycles, large firms will need to work with small firms to meet new demands and expectations fast.