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Act-On Chapter Recap: Keeping The SaaS Ecosystem Open


In a recent blog post, we shared how the Zylo team wanted to hear directly from other CEOs and CFOs think about SaaS in their own organizations. So we created a series of blog posts where we detail interviews from 5 veteran software executives and explore what they believe the future of cloud software will hold.

Each week for the next 5 weeks, we’ll share a portion of each of the interviews. In this week’s post, we’ll highlight Andy MacMillan, CEO of Act-On Software, and will share what he believes the future of the subscription economy will look like.

How Act-On See Itself In The SaaS Space

Act-On was introduced into the market well into the SaaS era, so Andy explained that it was never a thought that the company would be anything but a subscription-based software. The way that Act-On designed and built the company from the very beginning was different and was focused on providing a service that brings value and is driven nearly 100% by customer success, which Andy explained is not always true of on-premise software companies. Andy also explained that there were big advantages for Act-On as it was founded by the team that had success with on-premise software as well as success in the early days of subscription-based software. The executive team recognized that in order to deliver on their mission, they needed an agile and flexible architecture. From day one, Act-On was built on the idea of multi-tenancy and big data, leading first with technology, giving them 10 times the power for one tenth of the cost.

Act-On As A SaaS Buyer

For CEOs, managing SaaS subscriptions is quickly becoming a top five focus area and top budget line item. Andy explained Act-On’s view on that, which is quite straightforward:

“We’ve moved towards an entirely SaaS-based model and we intend most decisions to be made at the departmental level. For example, sales applications are evaluated and purchased by the sales function, and the same holds true across all departments. For us, it’s less about managing pure costs and more about ensuring our business processes span across all applications used across the business. It’s imperative that all of our systems work together so data can easily move between departments and systems so we have complete insight into what’s happening at each level of the business. But the other piece for us is the collaboration concept: how should the internal team collaborate around those processes and applications? It’s imperative that we tie visibility across ALL applications. Our IT function has become less about managing cost and more about building processes across applications and ensuring collaboration.”

When asked what Act-On’s investment in technology looks like, Andy explained that processes that run across applications is a top priority for the organization. Having experienced the old on-premise world firsthand, Andy knows the importance of ensuring that systems and processes are bridged together, whereas in the on-premise days, all systems were separate and disparate. Andy explained that he and his team are happier buying two apps that have some slight overlap with clear communication of the purpose and processes for each application, versus using completely disparate applications that don’t share data.

How Do We All Win In SaaS?

“How do we ALL win in SaaS?” That’s the last question we asked Andy. His reply? “It’s all about customer success for the SaaS business model. It’s 100% dictated by the customer’s ability to succeed.”

Andy left us with these final words: “In order to be successful in the future, SaaS providers need to keep the ecosystem open. Leaders across SaaS need to find ways to work together. Some software solutions are less open than they used to be, and I think it will be harder for those providers in the long run. SaaS companies need to focus on the customer, and they want an open and agile platform.”