When entrepreneur Marc Benioff launched Salesforce.com 20 years ago, he adopted an unusual logo for his startup. It featured the word “software” in a circle with a red slash across it. The logo matched Salesforce’s mission, “The End of Software” and its slogan, “No Software.”
It was a quirky marketing stunt, as Benioff himself admitted. After all, Salesforce was then, and still is, a software company. It is now a tech giant that makes it easier for businesses to manage sales and customer relations. But in the early 2000s, Salesforce sought to address a big challenge faced by many businesses: software was so damn expensive.
Back then, using software for your business meant spending a small fortune on computer hardware, including PCs and servers, and on software licenses and maintenance fees. Everything had to be set up on premise, which meant hiring a team of IT professionals or using a managed service.
Only companies with sizeable IT budgets or big corporations could afford such in-house networks. For small businesses, these were luxuries that they would not even consider having.
But then things changed.
It began with the rise of cloud computing, which allowed companies to access computing power through a network of powerful computers and storage devices, instead of spending huge sums on in-house data centers. This trend has been called “utility computing” because it essentially turned computing power into a utility.
The cloud also paved the way to make software more accessible to businesses and consumers. It enabled software developers to transform to a service-oriented business model by deploying their software remotely, in the cloud, and then selling software as a service instead of shipping software packages that customers had to deploy on site.
That’s what Benioff did at Salesforce. He was a pioneer of what has come to be known as software-as-a-service, or simply SaaS.
Instead of spending thousands of dollars on hardware and IT networks, businesses could pay for software the way they pay for a newspaper or cable subscription. They access the software by logging into the Web and pay a monthly or annual fee based on the number of account users and/or the features that come with the package. No more hefty licensing, maintenance fees and expensive in-house IT systems.
The cloud and SaaS made access to sophisticated software programs affordable for small businesses, including mom and pop shops.
But many small business owners are still reluctant to embrace the cloud completely. A new Gallup poll found that only half of small business owners surveyed believed technology and digital platforms are “an overall plus for the businesses.” The poll also found that roughly 40 percent didn’t think upgrading their small business technology would have a significant impact on business. Another report in 2017 published by Deloitte also found that many small business owners are “not fully embracing the digital age.” – Read more