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Silly Agility: The Myth of the Saas Agile Product Manager, Part I of II

by Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman We’ve been seeing a great deal of industry press these days discussing “the Agile Product Manager.” There are a plethora of new books, new training courses, and new “tools” that are supposed to transform yesterday’s slow and sluggish product manager into a new sort of sleek, streamlined being, something akin to Tony Stark in an Iron Man suit streaking through the sky on a mission to save the software industry from the Sloth Monster and pull trapped revenues and profits from the Slough of Despondency. Unfortunately for all involved, these articles, training courses, and tools

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Business After Windows: Why the Microsoft Desktop OS Model is Irretrievably Broken and What the Future Holds, Part I of II

In 2006, when writing the second edition of In Search of Stupidity, Over 20 Years of Marketing Disasters, I made some observations about the future of Microsoft looked at through the lens of IBM’s fall from the pinnacle of high-tech power through the 90s and early into the millennium. “…IBM had become too large for anyone to coordinate its various components into a strategic “whole”; the company was simply too big to coordinate the differing agendas of its myriad numbers of divisions, business units, initiatives, alliances, channel, and so on, and so on, into anything resembling a coherent plan. At the

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Silly Agility: The Myth of the Saas Agile Product Manager, Part II of II

by Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman, Softletter Managing Editor This has changed with SaaS. Take a look at the results from our 2012 SaaS survey below: How often do you release a “major update” of your SaaS product to your customers? (A “major update” is defined as including significant new features and functionality, not just incremental improvements and bug fixes)? Less than once a year 7% Once a year 15% Twice a year 16% Three or more times a year 21% We do not have a “timed” or set release schedule; we release new features as they are ready 27% Other,

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Customization in SaaS: Drawing a Line in the Sand

One piece of criticism constantly aimed at SaaS is that it’s not as “customizable” as on-premise software. Before examining this claim, we need first to define “customization” from the perspective of licensed software to provide the proper context. Traditionally, “customization” meant a change to the application source code or the creation of a module for a specific client, often with the result that the vendor ended up maintaining a branch of source code to support each client. With custom modules, the vendor would maintain only the modules’ source code but had to ensure that subsequent releases of the core product

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The Worst Company Name Ever

by Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman In addition to being the editor of Softletter, I’m ALSO the author of In Search of Stupidity: Over Twenty Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters, a book that’s about just what it says. And when I see something I regard as truly dumb, I take notice. A couple of weeks ago I received an E-mail from an Indian outsourcing company called “Panzer Technologies” offering their SaaS development services to moi. Here’s an excerpt from the E-mail: “Dear Manager, Hope you are doing good today. My name is Ranveer Singh, Sales Support Specialist with Panzer Technologies. We

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In House Your SaaS Infrastructure or Outsource It?

By Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman When Softletter first began running it’s SaaS survey in 2006 the overwhelming majority of SaaS firms told us that they managed their infrastructure in-house (for the purposes of the survey, we ranked colocation as an in-house choice). I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me as I write this, but I think the number was close to 70%. When I talk to advocates of keeping infrastructure in-house they talk about the cost saving achieved. The best firms have learned to lower infrastructure as % of gross revenues to between 5% to 7%. Things

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Hot Vapor

By Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman, Softletter Editor There is nothing new about the “Cloud.” The “Cloud” is simply a synonym for “Internet.” You can tell this by applying this simple test. Say you are an “Internet” company to someone. Now, what do they actually know about what the company does? Nothing. They don’t know if the firm hosts, build apps, competes in B2B vs. B2C, provides platforms, is a social network, etc., etc., etc. Now substitute “Cloud” for Internet. Say you are a “Cloud ” company to someone. Now, what do they actually know about what the company does? Nothing.

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The Worst Advice on SaaS I’ve Read (Recently)

Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman, Softletter Editor I was sitting here working on the second edition of “SaaS Entrepreneur: The Definitive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Your Cloud Applications Business” and minding my own business when I received a mailing from the Philly SaaS LinkedIn Group with this comment: “How to Start and Grow a SaaS Company I’ve just learned everything you need to know about starting and scaling a SaaS company…” So I took a look and was linked to THIS blog: And read it. I think many of the points made in the blog are just off

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Private SaaS and Flying Pigs

by Merrill R. (Rick) Chapman, Managing Editor, Softletter The advent of the “Cloud” has brought about the biggest buzz word explosion seen in high-tech since the 80s, when everybody was fighting over who was more WYSIWIG, relational, and16-bit. Not to mention Microsoft repeating the phrase “rich text” to the point where we were all practically in tears. It’s the type of thing this acronym-crazed high-tech does. As I’ve written in the past, the “Cloud” is the most vaporous buzzword yet produced in the business. In and of itself, the term “Cloud” has no meaning except as a synonym for “Internet.”

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Why Do Customers Buy SaaS?

Much has been written to date about why businesses are purchasing SaaS. If you like to spend time on the Linked In systems and peruse the various SaaS and Cloud groups, you’ll often read references to Capex vs. Opex (capital expenditures vs. operating expenditures) as the primary driver of SaaS purchases. (For some reason, we’ve noted that commentators from India seem to focus heavily on this metric, a reflection, perhaps, of their local market conditions. I’d be interested in hearing more on this topic from Indian SaaS companies.) The idea behind this is that by shifting software expenditures from capital

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Rick Chapman

Find out more about Rick’s latest book, the latest edition of In Search of Stupidity: Over 40 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters.

John Miller

John has been working in the IT industry since the 1980’s firstly as a Sales and Marketing Director including Techex a global distribution company, Olivetti, Norsk Data and Intergraph

He was a founder member of Delta Channel Services  back in 1995 and has since visited over 40 countries consulting, speaking at channel conferences and delivering training workshops

John has launched several SaaS based business, a Non Executive Director to several start ups and is based in the UK