19 SaaS Predictions For 2021 and Beyond
What does the future hold for B2B software? We asked the OpenView network to weigh in, and many folks unsurprisingly made predictions about something many of us are still figuring out: remote work. Other big themes were around data, building communities, and the continued adoption of product led growth.
Without further ado, here are the SaaS trends to watch in 2021:
“Companies will make retention a priority: customer retention, training retention and institutional knowledge (or history) retention.”
–Lawrence Schwartz, CEO at Trivie
“SaaS companies will evolve their products and messaging to support a fluid hybrid working model—office/home. Exit multiples will continue to grow. The VP of Culture/People will add or evolve to VP of Remote.”
–Ryan Dunagan, VP of Marketing at Spotio
“The prevailing go-to-market structure for SaaS companies in the last decade is through an inside sales team. Virtually all inside sales teams were forced to go remote in mid-March and haven’t been back in the office since. Teams are starting to ramp back up, and the next chapter of inside sales is a little wild. In 2021 we will start to see the convergence of product led growth, remote sellers, remote buyers and sales enablement technology that tracks EVERYTHING. The next decade of selling to B2B SaaS companies is going to accelerate faster toward a consumer-style experience. We should all be on the edges of our seats as we watch how inside sales teams react to the physical changes in structure (moving to mostly remote, or hybrid at best) at the same time that buyer behavior is changing.”
–Martin Roth, CRO at Levelset
“We’ll see more services companies adopt a product led growth strategy but for selling their services online. Productizing their services and enabling contactless and frictionless selling.”
–Graeme Wilson, Founder at Morphed
“I’m seeing three big trends for SaaS in 2021:
- More robust automations and data insights will come available
- Focus on more flexible business models
- Trust will become more and more important as a brand attribute”
–Lisa Campbell, CMO at Autodesk
“We’ll see more of a premium put towards product brand experiences as organizations focus on product qualified leads.”
–Chase Doelling, Director Strategic and Technical Alliances at JumpCloud
“I think more companies will adopt a purpose-driven model. Technology presents an amazing opportunity to harness the power of capitalism to bring about both financial and impact growth—but more importantly, it’s what teams and customers are demanding. SaaS will need to engage or get left behind.”
–Katie Burkhart, Founder and CEO at MatterPulse
“I see more consolidation of SaaS players to create bundled offerings.”
–Mike Tria, Head of Platform at Atlassian
“There are two that I’m watching closely. One is connected to the payments business and what my company, Flywire, does, and the other is related to how organizations manage themselves.
On the payments side, you’re starting to see something called embedded finance, or more specifically, embedded payments where cloud-based payment solutions are enabling businesses to make payments a more invisible part of the customer experience. It minimizes friction at the point of sale to enhance the customer experience. Uber and Lyft are obvious new economy examples, but you’re starting to see it in a lot more traditional businesses, e.g., healthcare providers using analytics and AI to proactively offer patients payment plans before care to reduce late and non-payments, or schools offering payment plans to students based on their specific financial needs to help keep students enrolled.
Employee engagement software is another interesting area for SaaS. We have all these communication and collaboration tools available to us—Slack, Google Drive, Zoom, Teams, eMail, etc. It’s very unstructured and can create lots of communication silos. COVID has exacerbated the problem because we depend on these tools even more. As an organization, it’s harder to communicate things to your teams and they have to do a lot more on their own to stay up. Stuff gets missed.
Employee engagement software is trying to fill the gaps between organizations’ different HRIS and communications tools. It provides a way to solicit and track feedback from employees, recognize achievements, promote positive activities that benefit the health or wellness of the organization and employees, and manage the employee communication lifecycle. It’s early but I’m interested to see how the space and capabilities develop. It could make a big difference for fast-growing organizations like Flywire.”
–Mike Massaro, CEO at Flywire
“Companies will become even more intentional about building and cultivating a community around their products and companies.”
–Ryan Frederick, Principal at AWH
“The rise of communities as a new pillar for differentiation.”
–Prashanth Chandrasekar, CEO at Stack Overflow
“My predictions for 2021 trends:
- Companies continue to become more and more data-savvy due to better tools, clearer understanding of how to do it, and more of the world interacting digitally
- Consumerization of enterprise software continues
- Divergence in company cultures: some will go full remote and others will lean back into in-person collaboration post-COVID; this will impact recruiting, business performance, etc.
- Events / conferences will never be the same. 50% of in-person conferences are never coming back.”
–Jeff Beckham, Head of Product and Content Marketing at Mixpanel
“We’ll see a continued increase in SaaS adoption within industries that have been historically slow due to perceived security and/or budget concerns, such as manufacturing, oil and gas, healthcare, etc.”
–Abbas Faiq, CIO, PTC
“COVID has challenged so many businesses to adopt SaaS and also drastically changed the sales process. I think we will see a meeting in the middle once lockdowns ease up. More companies will try to integrate a product led growth approach into their SaaS software to accelerate sales, simplifying the process and cut down on P&L from field sales.”
–Francesca Krihely, Senior Director, Growth Marketing at Snyk
“1: Fighting churn with data = $ based net retention is a significant driver of business health and companies that do this best will thrive. 2: Remote first even after a vaccine. Distributed workforces can be more efficient and create higher employee satisfaction when lockdowns end. Work around life versus life around work.”
–Ronak Majmudar, VP Professional Services at Zuora
“Omni-channel communications will start to become a standard way of communicating with both B2C and B2B prospects and customers.”
–Bobby Brown, Global Head of Customer Success, MessageBird
“We’ll see fintech startups turning into true platforms. Stripe, Shopify and Pinterest are leading the way and more are going to follow. 2021 will be a fintech arms race.”
–Ross Andrews, Founder at Talkin’ SaaSy
“A lot of people who resisted or shied away from technology have been thrown into the deep end of the pool and for an entire year. We will see SaaS enter into places where traditional on-premise software was the mainstay for reasons like security and legacy.”
–Shruti Kapoor, CEO at Wingman
“We’ll see the DevRel stack continue to mature—with more startups aimed at tracking and driving developer engagement. Orbit, having recently announced funding by A16Z, is one example.”
–Paige Paquette, Co-Founder at Calyx Consulting
What’s your plan for 2021?
At OpenView, we believe 2021 will be a year full of potential and opportunity for SaaS companies that are willing and able to pursue it. We recently released the 2020 Expansion SaaS Benchmarks Report, and it’s packed with data that will help you make better operational decisions and get back to hyper-growth next year. View the interactive summary page and download the 53-page report here.
SaaS companies need to start planning for international growth well before they need it. And there are a set of concrete, relatively simple steps to get started.