04 December 2021 07:08

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The SaaS industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Several factors have been attributed to this, including its accessibility, functionality, and versatility.

SaaS has enabled businesses to streamline operational models, creating greater efficiency across departments. Even when businesses turned to remote working setup owing to the pandemic, SaaS tools helped teams and employees to collaborate and manage their tasks efficiently. From a project, design to marketing campaigns, teams can work simultaneously from anywhere and on any device. The combination of a subscription-based model, low friction and internet-based delivery has made SaaS tools valuable for users. This also gives companies the freedom to test and learn these tools before making larger investments in them, reducing the unnecessary risk of investment. Moreover, SaaS tools and applications are driving the democratisation of data through its features like low cost, collaboration, easy access and faster deployment.

SaaS is also steadily taking over the cloud computing market thanks to its ability to offer agility in business processes and cost-effectiveness. The pandemic-induced digital acceleration in the business environment has further emphasized the need for SaaS adoption. According to a SaaSBoomi report, India could be on the cusp of unlocking a $1 trillion opportunity for SaaS companies, creating nearly half a million new jobs by 2030. With the rise of digitization and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the process, the Indian SaaS industry is set to capture about 4-6 percent of the global market.

Let's look at some of the trends that will add saas to the Indian SaaS industry in the new year.

Application of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is finding widespread use across businesses. It offers capabilities of optimizing business processes, increasing productivity, and automating daily tasks. AI provides companies with an advanced degree of responsiveness and interaction between businesses, customers, and technology. Undoubtedly AI is proving to be one of the critical factors that are enhancing the SaaS feature. Applying AI to SaaS helps companies to analyze customer behaviour and create a more personalized experience. For instance, Salesforce's best-in-class AI helps businesses analyze customer behavior and deliver seamless and delightful experiences. Moreover, AI's integration into SaaS can help companies augment their threat measures, automate internal functions, and enhance their existing products.

Capitalising on Machine learning

Machine learning is often considered a subset of AI, and it comes with the power of enhancing business processes. When combined with SaaS, ML helps automate responsiveness in customer engagement and applications such as live chatbots powered by AI. From personalization, automation to predictive analysis and enhanced security, machine learning integrated with SaaS is a differentiating factor for businesses. Big SaaS players like Salesforce and Oracle emphasize integrating ML with SaaS to carve a niche in the space.

Low code/No code SaaS

Low code SaaS platforms have been on rise these days. Its ability to allow one to build apps or automate workflows without coding has made it an emerging trend in the SaaS world. Traditionally, building applications involves a combination of engineers and program applications. However, low code platforms provide an environment that can create app software through graphical user interfaces and configuration. This means employees with a non-technical background can bring their ideas to life. The lack of engineers and the rising demand for new products has led to the significant growth of this platform. According to a Gartner report, 80% of programming tasks will be delivered without coding by 2024. In the coming years, low code platforms are going to become widespread and change the whole tech market.

Vertical SaaS is here to stay

We have heard a lot about horizontal SaaS, which focuses on companies across sectors and industries. On the other hand, Vertical SaaS is entirely customizable by targeting brands specific to the industry. Its ability to adapt to clients' particular requirements and cost-effectiveness makes it one of the critical trends in the SaaS industry. Vertical SaaS is growing rapidly because the model offers better solutions for companies who are looking at excelling in a specific field. An example of this would be - Veeva, a cloud-based CRM provider that used this model to scale its business and also attract funding. A report by NASSCOM showed that 500+ vertical SaaS companies have emerged in the country in the last ten years. This has undoubtedly attracted VC funding as 50% of the funding in 2016 went to the vertical SaaS companies. Vertical SaaS provides companies with more flexibility and upselling opportunities and lower customer acquisition costs.

Adoption of PaaS (Platform as a service)

Due to the rapid evolution of the SaaS industry and the increase in innovation, many companies are focusing on customer retention and customer acquisition. This has resulted in organizations moving to platforms as a service (PaaS). It allows businesses to create custom applications that add value to their original benefits. Moreover, its ability to create and deploy applications quickly has made it a great option for developers to launch programs faster. Some of the prominent PaaS options available in the market include Microsoft Azure App Service, AWS Elastic and Google App Engine. The PaaS model allows companies to be more agile and innovative, giving them the time and space to innovate. Its robustness, flexibility, and accessibility provide businesses with the ability to scale their operations. As a result, many companies are adapting to keep a stronghold on their niche. This SaaS trend will indeed dominate in the coming years.

Enhanced Mobile Optimization

The era of instant gratification has come. Everything is just a click away, thanks to the rapid penetration of mobile technology and the internet. Mobile optimization is becoming increasingly important as more SaaS companies adopt a mobile-first approach. SaaS providers will focus on mobile-first design, including personalization, intuitive features, task optimization, in-app user feedback, leveraging AR and VR for an immersive experience, and many other features.

These are some inspiring SaaS trends that hint at the enduring future of the industry. As companies adapt to a cloud-based and data-driven existence, software innovation will remain vital. SaaS will be an increasingly convenient and affordable option for companies in a digitally dependent world.

 

Authored  By Kalpit Jain, Group CEO, Netcore Cloud

Radio listeners in Maharashtra will be taken on a nostalgic trip as MY FM launches ‘Pulvanuk’, a daily episodic tribute to the Marathi literary titan Purushottam Laxman Deshpande. ‘Pula’, as he was lovingly called, was often referred to as Maharashtra’s beloved personality.

The on-air special will feature audio-stories from Pula’s finest works in his own voice. This will be the first time that listeners will get a chance to listen to his voice on radio.

Sharing his views on the initiative, Mr. Rahul Namjoshi, COO, MY FM says, “MY FM thrives on clutter-breaking innovations. We have always focused on grabbing the pulse of the region. With ‘Pulvanuk’, we are not only honoring the legendary author, but also giving our Marathi listeners a beautiful nostalgic experience.”

‘Pulvanuk’ will also feature interactions with some of the biggest Marathi celebrities who will share their memories and experiences with Pula and his numerous projects. The show will be aired twice every day from Monday - Saturday.

Strengthening the Network’s foothold in Australia and catering to the content preferences of the viewers in the region, Times Network, India’s premium broadcast network has launched TIMES NOW and ET NOW on Flash, in partnership with, Foxtel Group. Flash is a first of its kind, dedicated LIVE & on demand news streaming service that features more than 20 local and global news sources.

As the only Indian news channels available on Flash, TIMES NOW and ET NOW delivers holistic reportage on national, political, local, financial & business news, now enables Australian viewers to stay informed on the latest and trending news stories from India. Known for its sharp, incisive, credible and fearless news coverage, TIMES NOW, is India’s leading English news channel and the global voice of the progressive India. Bringing a wide spectrum of business news, ET NOW focusses on matters that affect India’s inclusive development and empowers the Indian viewers in Australia to take part in India’s growth story.

Commenting on the launch, Jagdish Mulchandani, COO & Executive President, Times Network said, “With an evolving consumer preference for watching LIVE news content across platforms, we are excited to partner with Flash, to provide Australian viewers access to our best-in-class news channels on a dedicated news streaming service. Both TIMES NOW and ET NOW are market leaders in their respective categories and now we are thrilled to enhance our reach in the region with this launch. Delivering reliable and world-class TV viewing experience, I am confident that our news channels will be an enriching addition to the discerning viewers seeking superior global and India news reportage."

Flash CEO, Julian Ogrin, said: “Flash will transform the way Australians consume the news that matters to them by bringing together the widest range of local and international live news sources in a single, easy to use, feature-packed service. And we are thrilled to have TIMES NOW and ET NOW as part of this unrivalled offering on Flash.”

Social media spend would need to reduce by $94.3bn in order to mirror global consumption levels next year, while the investment gap is $86.9bn for linear TV

WARC Global Advertising Trends: The Investment Gap

A new WARC analysis of advertising spend forecasts for 100 markets worldwide and the results of a survey by GWI of more than 715,000 consumers, show that advertiser spend on TV and social media is highly inflated in relation to daily consumption. These findings are published today by WARC, the international marketing intelligence service, as part of its new WARC Data Premium suite, launched today.

The analysis finds that, as of the first quarter of 2021, social media now attracts more investment from advertisers than linear TV for the first time, however both media draw far more of advertising budgets than the average consumer spends with these channels each day.

Social media, for example, is forecast to account for 39.1% of 2022 adspend among the eight media studied in the report – linear TV, online video, social media, print press, online press, podcasts, broadcast radio and online audio – but has a 21.4% share of daily media consumption, a discrepancy of 17.7 percentage points (pp) equivalent in value to $94.3bn.

Socially devoted

Social media has accounted for over two hours of daily media consumption since Q2 2016, per GWI monitoring, and WARC Data Premium’s latest forecasts expect daily social time to reach 2:30 during the second half of next year.

Notably, all demographics measured in the report are set to spend twice as long with social media as they are with online press next year, despite ongoing trust issues – less than one-half of adults say advertising on social media is 'somewhat' or 'very' trustworthy, falling to 28% in China, 19% in the US and just 10% in the UK.

Despite this, the largest gaps between social consumption and adspend can be found in China (where advertiser spend is 3.3x consumption), the UK (2.2x) and the US (2.0x). Conversely, in Australia (0.9x), India (0.4x) and Russia (0.5x), social’s share of daily media consumption is higher than its share of advertising budgets – a potential indicator of opportunity for brands.

Linear TV adspend is 2x daily consumption, but online video investment is balanced

Linear TV is forecast to account for a 31.5% share of advertising spend next year among the eight media studied, compared to a 16.1% share of daily media consumption. This would equate to an investment gap of $86.9bn worldwide next year.

An overspend in relation to consumption does not translate directly into waste, and proportions vary by size of budget. Successful high-budget campaigns spending over $10m, for example, typically allocate 60% of their budgets to TV, while successful alcoholic drinks campaigns typically allocate 44%.

While linear TV spend is inflated in relation to its consumption, online video is now close to parity after years of underinvestment. It is worth noting that the world’s largest online video platform – Netflix – is predominantly ad free, while platforms such as YouTube are prone to ad blocking on desktop and mobile devices.

Still, advertisers are forecast to spend $71.9bn on online video this year, a 13.6% share of the eight studies media which compares to a 12.9% of media consumption, or one hour 37 minutes.

Audio and online press heavily undervalued

Data show that audio media appear highly undervalued – a trend that was recently highlighted by WARC in the US.

Perhaps most notably, podcasts are found to be undervalued by $40bn, with the greatest opportunities for advertisers among audiences aged 16–24, middle earners, and those educated until the age of 16.

One in three internet users now listens to a podcast each month, but a cost per thousand (CPM) of $23.55 is higher than even TV. Spotify has quickly gained ground on Apple to become the largest app for podcast streaming as of March this year.

Online press also appears to be another heavy undervalued medium: advertisers would need to spend $58.0bn on online press ads globally next year to achieve parity with consumption levels. Instead, forecast spend is just $12.8bn.

Business models in the publishing sector have been diversifying to counter the shortfall in advertising revenue; 76% of publishers are prioritising subscriptions this year.

James McDonald, Managing Editor, WARC Data, and author of the report, says:The study shines a light on divergences between media investment and consumption, two metrics which are rarely seen to be in lockstep with one another. In some cases, particularly for undervalued audio formats such as podcasts, this presents a good opportunity for canny practitioners to reach audiences with comparatively little competition.

“For industry stalwarts like linear TV, the seemingly inflated investment gap actually speaks more to the enduring power of the medium – its vast reach combined with attentive audiences and the heightened impact of audiovisual creative. These traits allow it to command a premium in the media mix, one which is likely to sustain even as social media further grows its share of budgets.”

Latest Market Intel on WARC Data Premium

Americas

53% of US advertisers expect to spend more on OTT/CTV

US podcast adspend up 24% as more advertisers join

Over 40% of Americans say they’re not fully represented in advertising

Asia Pacific

TikTok growing rapidly in Japan and South Korea, but YouTube still leads

Commerce and video streaming are most important trends for APAC marketers

44% of Southeast Asian consumers play video games while watching TV

Europe, Middle East and Africa

Gen Z consumers are twice as likely to buy from a brand with a sonic identity

Direct mail campaigns more likely to successfully use personalisation

Consumers in Poland, Spain and the UK most likely to always accept website cookies

Total brand value of top 100 in Brand Finance Nation Brands ranking has grown by 7% year on year, but remains lower compared to pre-COVID-19 levels

No movements in top 10, US and China remain in league of own in top spot and second, respectively

Estonia capitalises on digital infrastructure to become fastest-growing nation brand, up 38%

In contrast, Myanmar (-26%) and Ethiopia (-22%) are among fastest-falling nation brands as they continue to be ravaged by civil unrest and conflict

Switzerland takes title of world’s strongest nation brand from Germany, as world’s largest economies suffer due to poorly perceived COVID-19 responses

Australia and New Zealand move into top 10 in strongest nation brands ranking

Singapore and UAE break monopoly for brand strength as only two non-Western nations at top of ranking

The top 100 most valuable nation brands in the world have recorded a 7% increase in brand value since 2020, signalling that recovery is underway from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021 report.

Although this is a positive sign, uncertainty lingers and nation brand values have not reached pre-pandemic levels yet. At US$90.8 trillion, this year’s total brand value of the top 100 ranking is still 7% lower compared to 2019.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “Unlike previous economic crashes, recovery is uneven and is pinned on the combination of initial COVID-19 response strategies and a successful vaccination rollout. We are starting to turn a corner, as the world’s most valuable nation brands begin to return to pre-pandemic brand values. But results are varied, and it may take years for some to recoup lost brand value, creating even greater disparity between the most and least valuable nation brands.”

US & China lead the pack

There has been no movement in the top 10 this year, with each nation retaining its rank from last year. All the top 10 have recorded a modest uplift in brand value, however, in line with the global trend across the ranking.

The United States and China remain in a league of their own, claiming the first and second spot in the ranking, respectively. The US has recorded a 5% brand value increase to US$24.8 trillion in a year that has been marked by great political and economic change with President Joe Biden taking the helm. Similarly, China saw a 6% uptick in nation brand value to US$19.9 trillion. Both nations have celebrated economic recovery since the outbreak of the pandemic, contributing to their uplift in brand value. China’s economy was the first to recover – doing so at a meteoric pace - as the only nation to register positive GDP growth at the end of 2020 and growing at record pace in the first quarter of this year.

Many thought that relations would improve between the two superpowers under Biden’s leadership, following the turbulent Trump years, but this has not been the case thus far.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “The superpowers from the West and the East unsurprisingly dominate the Brand Finance Nation Brands ranking, with China remaining hot on the heels of long-standing leader, the US. With China’s recovery and economic rise showing no signs of slowing down, as growth hit a record high at the beginning of the year, no doubt the gap will continue to close in the coming years.”

Digital Estonia is world’s fastest-growing nation brand

Recording a 38% brand value growth from last year and outpacing modest increases across the ranking, Estonia is the world’s fastest-growing nation brand of 2021. The Baltic state had invested in digital infrastructure long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Anyone around the world can apply for e-residency in Estonia, which allows them to run an EU-based company online, and a staggering 99% of the country’s governmental services are offered online.

The advanced digitisation of the country put it on the front foot during the pandemic. On the same day the government announced a state of emergency, the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications launched an online hackathon to identify solutions to pandemic-induced problems, resulting in a chatbot to answer the public’s queries and the re-purposing of online platforms to match volunteers with those in need.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “Estonia is this year’s fastest-growing nation brand largely thanks to its world-class digital infrastructure. With some of the leading economies having their digital shortcomings highlighted during the pandemic, Estonia’s digital-first model should be one for others to follow.”

Myanmar and Ethiopia are fastest fallers

In stark contrast, Myanmar and Ethiopia are among the fastest-falling nation brands in the ranking. The unrest across the two countries has caused significant damage to their nation brand values, which have dropped 26% and 22%, respectively.

Brazil has also suffered a steep decline in brand value as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on its society and economy. The South American continent’s largest economy, Brazil has lost 12% of its brand value this year and dropped out of the top 20 in the Brand Finance Nation Brands 2021. Famous for its vibrant culture, lifestyle, and sports, Brazil is the highest-ranked South American nation in the ranking, but the combination of high COVID-19 cases and damage to the agriculture sector from severe droughts have caused substantial damage to the economy.

Switzerland is world’s strongest nation brand

In addition to measuring nation brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of nation brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance. The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index – the world’s most comprehensive research study on nation brand perceptions, surveying opinions of over 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries. According to these criteria, Switzerland is the world’s strongest nation brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 83.3 out of 100.

Switzerland’s BSI score has remained stable, while the nations around it saw theirs take a hit, resulting in Switzerland moving to the top spot for brand strength. According to Brand Finance’s research, the Alpine nation saw external perceptions slightly rise following its strong response to COVID-19. It used a mix of compulsory and non-compulsory measures during the pandemic to control the spread of the virus. For example, non-essential businesses had to close, but the government’s order to stay at home was only ever advisory – entrusting the people to make the decision for themselves.

This is reflective of Switzerland’s model of government, with the public allowed to voice their opinions on laws through frequent referenda – last year the population rejected a motion to end its freedom of movement agreement with the EU and voted to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “Small size is no barrier to occupying a solid position for nation brand strength and Switzerland securing the top spot this year is the perfect example. Switzerland has held firm whilst other nations have faltered over the course of the pandemic. The nation has recently been thrust under the spotlight, however, with the leak of the Pandora Papers, which could taint its reputation as Swiss financial advisers are scrutinised on the global stage.”

Germany slips to 5th

Last year’s strongest nation, Germany, has dropped down to 5th position in the brand strength ranking, following a 2.3 point drop in BSI to 82.6 out of 100. Despite garnering praise on the global stage for her strong and stable leadership spanning 16 years, Angela Merkel sees mixed results on home soil. Domestic perceptions are consistently less favourable across the metrics to their overseas counterparts, particularly in regard to the Global Soft Power Index Business & Trade and Influence pillars.

Australia and New Zealand move into top 10

Australia, up five places in the ranking to 6th, and New Zealand, up seven places to 10th, have both entered the top 10 for brand strength, with BSI scores of 81.3 and 80.2 respectively. The Australasian countries were deemed to have handled the early days of the pandemic extremely well. Both were lauded for their severe lockdowns and quick reaction to subsequent outbreaks, which resulted in minimal cases and allowed them to open back up internally considerably earlier than others.

At the time of our research, both scored well across our data points with internal and external perceptions of their handling of the pandemic. However, the vaccine rollout in both countries has lagged behind their global counterparts, which could hamper their BSI scores moving forward.

Breaking the Western monopoly

Singapore and the United Arab Emirates have broken the Western monopoly in the brand strength ranking, claiming 4th and 11th position respectively. Scoring particularly high for Global Soft Power Index pillars of Business & Trade and Governance, Singapore continues to prosper both in the Southeast Asian region as well as globally. The city-state – renowned for its high-quality and economically efficient healthcare – has already fully vaccinated 82% of the total population. Singapore is on the right path to achieve the government’s aim of a “whole new normal”.

The UAE has climbed three spots in the brand strength ranking following a 2.5-point increase in its BSI score to 79.1 out of 100. Overseas perceptions of the nation’s prowess in the Education & Science pillar are high, and the successful Emirates Mars Mission is clearly a factor. The UAE also stands out for its COVID-19 response, and scores high for the Influence and Business & Trade pillars, both of which should see a further boost from Expo 2020 inaugurated in Dubai this month. The UAE’s continued increases in brand strength and value are testament to the nation’s strategy of diversifying its economy for long-term growth.

COVID-19 hurts perceptions of world’s largest economies

At the same time, the UK, US, Japan, and France have all fallen out of the top 10 strongest nation brands ranking due to the perception of how they handled COVID-19.

The UK, falling from 2nd to 14th with a BSI score of 77.4, and France, falling from 9th to 16th with a score of 75.4, recorded average Global Soft Power Index scores for overseas perceptions of their handling of the pandemic, but perceptions domestically were particularly low.

Japan, falling from 7th to 15th with a score of 76.7, saw a similar story with the perception at home that the pandemic was mishandled. However, this is polarised when compared to their perception abroad, where it achieved some of the highest scores in the Global Soft Power Index research.

The US, dropping from 4th to 17th with a score of 75.1, saw poor scores at home and abroad, and was also one of the lowest ranked nations by the specialists.

Despite their brand strength taking a hit, these nations all still feature in an unchanged top 10 when ranked by nation brand value.

David Haigh, Chairman and CEO, Brand Finance, commented: “It will be important for the world’s largest economies to focus on making up the ground they have lost in brand strength, in order to protect their brand value. The UK, US, Japan, and France have all scored poorly domestically for their handling of COVID and they need to rebuild this trust with their respective populations.”

Methodology

Brand Finance measures the strength and value of the nation brands of 100 leading countries using a method based on the royalty relief mechanism employed to value the world’s largest corporate brands.

Step 1 – Nation Brand Strength

Nation Brand Strength is the part of our analysis most directly and easily influenced by those responsible for their country’s nation brand campaigns. Nation Brand Strength is determined through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating brand investment, brand equity, and brand performance. The nation brand strength methodology includes the results of the Global Soft Power Index – the world’s most comprehensive research study on nation brand perceptions, surveying opinions of over 75,000 people based in more than 100 countries. Each metric is scored out of 100 and together they contribute to an overall Brand Strength Index (BSI) score for the nation brand, also out of 100. Based on the score, each Nation Brand is assigned a brand strength rating in a format similar to a credit rating.

Step 2 – Royalty Rate

The hypothetical royalty rate charged is determined by reference to average rates seen across sectors which are applied to the country based on the proportion of the country’s GDP generated from the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. The Brand Strength Index is relied upon to determine the appropriate royalty rate for the country.

Step 3 – Revenues

The nation brand valuation is based on forecasts of GDP in each country taken from the World Economic Outlook of the IMF. The applicable royalty rate calculated in Step 2 is applied to the country’s GDP to determine brand-related GDP streams.

Step 4 – Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) or Discount Rate

In order to account for the risk across each national economy a discount rate is calculated. This represents the average cost of a brand’s sources of finance and the minimum return required on the brand asset. The discount rate is used to calculate the present value of future brand earnings (accounting for the time value of money and the associated risk).

Step 5 - Brand Valuation

The post-tax brand-related GDP streams identified in Step 3 are then discounted to a net present value using the discount rate, to determine the nation brand value.

 

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