SaaS for the Second Wave

SaaS for the Second Wave

The evolution of how and where business is done (i.e. centralized to fully-distributed work) combined with adoption of technology in previously un-penetrated business areas is giving rise to a second wave of cloud-based software adoption.


While the nature of corporate work for 200 years has been generally centralized, over the past decade corporations have been rapidly evolving from highly centralized to partially distributed and fully remote work. Due to this change in the nature of work, there is a rise of software solutions that are better designed for the future of work. Software is now accessible by any type of worker, and is no longer constrained to knowledge-based workers with PCs on their desks.

Additionally, just as cloud-based software penetrated companies with knowledge-based workers confined to desk oriented work in the 2000s and 2010s, new cloud-based software will penetrate older industries that are not limited to stationary knowledge workers, or where software adoption has had limitations due to regulatory, privacy, and logistical complexities. These new applications are targeting customers that are looking to switch from pad and pen or spreadsheets and targeting highly regulated industries where data privacy concerns historically prohibited cloud-computing adoption. Because of low-cost computing through tablets, mobile phones, and PCs, a new generation of SaaS users is on the rise and they are unlocking the benefits of cloud computing for a wide range of companies that have been unpenetrated by new age software solutions.

Now that we are in the post-digital economy, a moment in time where software adoption, application of machine learning, and internet penetration has scaled broadly throughout business, there is greater demand for software in everything we do. Based on these trends, software will begin to unlock billions of dollars in new economic activity and greater market capitalizations in a wide range of industries that were historically slow to adopt technology. The adoption of SaaS and cloud based software by businesses as small as barbershops and as large as healthcare systems--where privacy and regulatory complexity prevented the use of new software and data--are now being developed to address pain points that could have been solved in the past if it were not for slow software adoption.


Partially and fully-distributed work requires new enterprise software tooling to empower workers to get their jobs done effortlessly in the absence of physical presence. The initial SaaS for the second wave applications tackled communication in an experience that resembled social networking (i.e. Chatter, HipChat, Slack, and Zoom), remote project planning (i.e. Trello, Pipedrive, and Asana), and team collaboration (i.e. Airtable, Box, and Dropbox). The next generation of SaaS for the second wave applications for remote work will integrate with the initial applications’ APIs to enable corporate and strategy planning, management, governance, and knowledge sharing.

With regards to industries that were slow to adopt SaaS in the early 2000s due to limited technology access or regulatory constraints, we have seen a rise of applications in financial services (i.e. Symphony, Thinknum), mobile appointment bookings (i.e. Squire), healthcare (i.e. Slope*), and construction (i.e. PlanGrid). Over the next decade, we expect SaaS applications to scale deeply into these categories and across other industries.

Product Characteristics

Self-installation that doesn't require a consultative sale

Software that can be easily downloaded onto work devices (i.e. mobile devices or computers) and integrated into an organization's workflow without the need for human-led product demos.

One-click integrations with complimentary applications

Avoids being a super application by pulling from and pushing data to tangentially related applications that are already deeply integrated into the companies’ workflows.

Products typically scale vertically ahead of horizontal product expansion

Many of these software solutions are likely to pursue vertical integration ahead of pursuing broader industry applicability. Vertical integration enables increased Annual Contract Values (ACV) and establishes competitive moats to move toward owning the category.