17 Popular Software as a Service (SaaS) Examples
The Software as a Service (SaaS) model continues to gain global traction as more small businesses and large organizations favor it as a better alternative to on-premises hardware and software deployment.
Unlike other traditional software, SaaS is not downloadable and only available as web-based software. It is one of the top cloud computing applications. Also, the SaaS service provider is responsible for updates, security, and the overall performance of the software. With the on-premise software model, you shoulder the burden.
According to a survey conducted by Computer Economics, a whopping 60 percent of surveyed companies use some form of SaaS solutions. Statista estimates the SaaS market size to be worth approximately $145.5 billion in 2021 and grow to $171.9 billion in 2022.
In this article, you will learn about 17 essential SaaS applications companies use, the pros and cons of SaaS, and the differences between the different cloud computing models (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).
Let’s get started.
SaaS vs PaaS vs IaaS
1. Software as a Service (SaaS)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is a popular business model in which a company delivers cloud-based applications via the internet to its clients. Customers can access the software or application via any internet-connected device like a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer.
The reason it is easily accessible from any web browser via the internet is that the software data is stored in multiple data centers on the cloud. Other names for Software as a Service (SaaS) include on-demand software, web-based software, or hosted software.
SaaS is one of the best cloud-based computing application models. Unlike traditional software services, you cannot download or install SasS on a device such as phones or computers. Instead, you access it via a web-based browser.
2. Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a software model that provides software tools for developers to build applications on the internet. Most PaaS users are developers because PaaS vendors also provide hardware tools to develop applications.
A typical PaaS solution provides an easy-to-scale, user-friendly platform for developers to create unique and efficient software. Using PaaS, users do not have to bother about building applications from scratch with complex codes.
PaaS platforms are multi-accessible for lots of users. You can choose your favorite resources to suit your type of business. It is simple to run without a prior extensive knowledge of system administration.
3. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a software model that offers storage, virtualization, and networking services. It offers millions of users a cloud-oriented alternative to physical infrastructures. This way, so many businesses can avoid spending large amounts of money on on-premise resources.
The IaaS model offers services over the internet. Using IaaS, you can escape investing in labor-intensive costs. IaaS solutions are user-friendly and flexible, even for new users.
You can switch solutions whenever you want without being afraid of losing your initial investment funds. IaaS models put you in full control over the infrastructure. You can access IaaS platforms yourself without the external help of IT savvy personnel.
Differences Between SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS
Software as a Service (SaaS) gives users multiple unconventional solutions that suit a business's need such as an email or website. The platforms are often created on PaaS or IaaS platforms.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a model often created on an IaaS platform to reduce or eliminate the need for system administration. It allows users to put more energy into application development instead of infrastructure supervision.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a powerful model that offers maximum flexibility regarding the hosting of custom-built applications. It also provides data centers for the storage of relevant data.
The size and type of your business will tell if you need just one computing model or the three models together.
Pros and Cons of Software as a Service
There is no doubt that Software as a Service (SaaS) has been a great alternative to on-premise infrastructure operations. Although there are numerous advantages of Software as a Service (SaaS), it has some downsides that you need to be aware of while working with it.
Pros of Software as a Service
1. Low Costs
For businesses that are keen on cutting costs on IT infrastructure and labor, SaaS is a great choice. Over the years, organizations that have switched from on-premise infrastructure maintenance and upgrades to SaaS subscriptions have recorded an average of 15% reduction in IT spending data.
SaaS is precisely perfect for small-scale businesses. Instead of pumping funds into extra on-premise server space and licenses, organizations can upscale their Software as a Service (SaaS) monthly or yearly subscriptions to fit the current size and scope of your business. This way, you can bypass excessive consumption demands and other costs.
2. Less Burden on Available Human Resources
With Software as a Service (SaaS), there is an increase in available human resources. On-premise IT staffers are free from IT-related tasks, thereby giving them the chance to focus more on other important projects that are crucial to the organization's growth.
When there is a sudden service disruption, operations can effectively bounce back in minutes because the IT infrastructure is managed in the service provider's data centers.
Another upside of the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is mobility. Today, in the business world, organizations are embracing remote working policies. Remote working makes operations flexible for employees.
With SaaS, every worker can gain access to the software from anywhere in the world. Since there are no installation processes, a powerful internet connection is the only requirement for you to gain access to the server.
Cons of Software as a Service
Software as a Service (SaaS) has some shortcomings that users need to know.
1. Software Incorporation and Integration Issues
Companies that use SaaS applications may sometimes experience software incorporation and integration issues during operations. Since you control nothing, you are at the mercy of the reliability of the SaaS provider.
Another major concern for SaaS options is security. When a company's confidential data and relevant information is delegated to the care of a third-party service provider, issues on the right identities to gain access to the information must be addressed to prevent future management controversies.
The business has to appoint sufficient security measures and protocols to protect sensitive data. Mobility is an avenue for unlicensed persons to hack into a company's firewall from anywhere in the world. It means that just anybody can gain access to a company's confidential data. Therefore, businesses must ensure the use of secured devices in remote locations.
3. Compliance with Regulations
Businesses must also ensure that they comply with every regulation set aside by the government to control the storage of data in various remote data centers.
Essential SaaS Apps Companies Use
Best Software as a Service Provider for CRM Services
Salesforce remains at the zenith of the best Software as a Service application. It is one of the best applications that are at the forefront of the cloud-based computing revolution.
The CRM software helps multifarious businesses in getting information from all customers (both existing and prospective ones) and leads from an online platform. This enables all legitimate employees to gain access to any vital data on any connected device anytime, anywhere.
Salesforce comes with tools that enhance sales analytics, marketing, and engagement. These tools are designed to increase sales by a certain percentage and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.Some of the best Salesforce competitors include Odoo, Freshworks, ActiveCampaign, Pipedrive, Zoho CRM, Insightly, and Keap.
Best SaaS Provider for Productivity Tools
Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word, Outlook, and PowerPoint are longtime signatures of the model. The new Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based application that remarkably widens the horizons of Microsoft Office's parameters.
Office 365 users can now create, edit, format, and share files from any PC, Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows device from anywhere in the world. It has proved the efficiency of Microsoft by offering its users SaaS tools.
Users can also use diverse tools to connect with colleagues and clients via emails, audio, or video conferencing. The communication technologies guarantee secure interactions between employees within the organization and between workers and clients outside the organization.
You can install the application on your computer and still access it on the cloud platform on any other data center.
Best Software as a Service Provider for File-Sharing Services
Box is an online workplace that allows professionals to team up with different people anywhere, and anytime. Users can successfully share large files via a custom URL link or traditional link. This can be done securely by protecting relevant data and confidential documents using password protection and ID.
The file-sharing site supports different file types (more than 100). Users can also confirm content before hitting the download button. Content editing, formatting, sharing, and approval are all done on one file and users can receive prompt notifications if any edits are made.
Files can be accessed on the web, mobiles, or a desktop. On the application, you can automate some tasks such as contract approvals, workflows, elimination of redundancy, and employee onboarding.
Best SaaS Provider for Access to a Comprehensive Set of Productivity Apps
Over the years, Google has been able to extend its versatility level beyond being a search engine and an advertising tool. Now, it offers different businesses a comprehensive set of productivity tools.
Google Workspace includes a professional email, video meetings, shared calendars, Google drive, file storage, and more. Google Drive, a cloud storage and file-sharing application enables users to access, edit, store, and share files immediately across any device to multiple colleagues. In this way, you can eliminate email attachments and the problems with merging different versions.
The applications in the workspace are very effective because they streamline the operations of different businesses. Google Workspace has the perfect tools suitable for personal and commercial use.
Best Software as a Service Provider that Offers a Wide Array of Cloud Services
Amazon, just like Google, has gone beyond offering an e-commerce platform to providing on-demand, cloud-oriented IT tools, and applications. Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon with a million people using SaaS solutions. These tools are accessed with the pay-as-you-go option. Amazon Web Services, as a group, comprises more than 100 services in total.
Some of these services include analytics, computing, robotics, machine learning, security, deployment, blockchain, management, networking, database, storage, IoT tools, and many more. The platform is cloud-based, meaning that you can access all these tools from any device as long as you are connected to the internet.
Best SaaS Provider for Automating and Managing Your Business Traveling Expenses
Concur makes the business traveling process easy by automating most of its steps including expense and travel management. It has always been difficult for busy employees and the active financial sections of businesses to go on business trips.
With its cloud-based and mobilized solutions, Concur enables employees to book trips according to their preferences and needs. It also ensures that you do not book beyond the company's spending capacity.
Concur also settles expenses at the end of each business trip. It delivers airline and accommodation receipts directly into the company's expense reports. By doing so, you do not need to collect, track and tender paper receipts of the whole traveling expenses. Its solutions eliminate any arduous task concerning business traveling.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Top-Notch Customer Support Services
Zendesk is a cloud-based customer support service that helps users effortlessly tackle clients' requests across multiple communication channels. They include social media, phone, chats, emails, web, and more.
The customer support service includes features like Zendesk Voice, Zopim, and Automatic Answers. Zendesk Voice is an in-built, cloud-oriented phone solution. Zopim is an efficient, real-time chat support service. Automatic Answer is a machine-powered tool that is used for interpreting customers' questions and providing answers. These features work for all types of businesses.
Zendesk is a SaaS company that has annual revenue of more than $5 million. They experience about 86% positive ratings from the total customer interactions and feedback. Some of the best Zendesk alternatives include Intercom, Freshdesk, HelpCrunch, LiveAgent, Kayako, and HelpScout.
Best SaaS Provider for Inbound Marketing and Sales Services
HubSpot is one of the best SaaS tools used by large businesses and software companies. It offers an all-in-one content management system (CMS), sales, customer relations management (CRM), marketing, and software services to different businesses.
The marketing tool enables businesses to attract clients, win them over, close important deals with them, and retain them. HubSpot's most recognizable feature is the free trials that come with the SaaS tools.
HubSpot’s content marketing strategy is top-notch. They help SaaS companies that are struggling to drive traffic and convert clients on a SaaS website. HubSpot releases various blog posts that directly or indirectly address the core aspects of its app usage every single day.
Some of the best HubSpot alternatives include Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, GetResponse, Wishpond, EngageBay, Drip, and Sendinblue.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Document Management Services
DocuSign is an e-signature technology and transaction management services platform that allows the exchange of e-contracts and electronically signed documents. Users can send, sign, and access documents from their offices, homes, hotel rooms, and many other places. They can also guarantee approvals and execute agreements in some minutes, or hours tops.
The document management software supports more than 80 million users in almost 190 countries. Its e-signatures are legally accepted and authorized for most personal transactions and business dealings in almost every country across the world.
Best SaaS Provider for Web and Video Conferencing Services
GoToMeeting is a web and video conferencing software that hosts online meetings, and visual conferencing for users to meet with clients, colleagues, and computer users via the internet. It supports desktop sharing.
For desktop sharing, it is designed to circulate the desktop view of the host PC to a group of connected computers via the internet.
The transmission is highly protected with secured encryption and passwords (optional). If the software is installed by combining web-hosted subscription services, the transmission is protected with strong firewalls.
GoToMeeting can be downloaded as an app on iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. The audio package provides conferencing via Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The application can host up to 250 persons but the enterprise level can accommodate about 3,000 persons.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Social Media Management Services
Buffer is one of the software packages that are perfect for most of the SaaS businesses we have today. It is a simple but effective tool that can be used to aid social media management and media schedule for all types of businesses.
The social media tool takes transparency to a different level. Buffer shares its revenue and spending statistics, business plans and strategy, and fundraising details with the public. It is recognized for this transparent value and it has stayed committed to it throughout its many years of operation.
Best SaaS Provider for Building and Launching eCommerce Stores
Setting up your online store with Shopify is very easy and it gives your website a beautiful and custom look. Its dashboard is accessible and has quick solutions.
The eCommerce website builder allows the migration of your existing stores from other websites to its platform. You can also bring your products into the platform without obstructions.
Adding your products is easy because you can arrange the descriptions accordingly into the appropriate fields and save them. The fields already tell you what to fill in to avoid errors in the description. You can add unlimited products and make unlimited orders.
Shopify’s customer support service works round the clock. There are multiple languages available which make it widely accepted. The mobile app is also available for users who do not want to use web browsers.
You can make passive income with your online store. There are a lot of examples of successful Shopify stores that generate passive income for their owners such as Hiut Denim, Beardbrand, Allbirds, Madsen Cycles, and SkinnyMe Tea.
Some of the best Shopify alternatives include Wix, Squarespace, Magento, BigCommerce, Volusion, 3dcart, WooCommerce, and BigCartel.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Entertainment Streaming Services
Netflix is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that offers software to watch on-demand movies or videos. It is a B2C (Business to Customer) streaming service that contains a library of movies and televised series for people to watch.
The entertainment streaming service uses a subscription-based model which demands the users to choose a subscription plan and make certain payments to the platform either monthly or annually.
Netflix has a trial model and three subscription plans for people. This makes it a flexible option for users. Netflix currently has over 180 million subscribers around the globe.
Best SaaS Provider for Cloud Storage and File-Sharing Services
Dropbox is a SaaS platform that helps you store your documents and files very close and accessible to you across all gadgets. Any documents saved on Dropbox storage easily pop up on all your mobile devices and desktops, thereby enabling users to quickly commence work on their PC.
Users can make edits on smartphones and tablets even while in a commercial transit going back home after the day's work. You can send invites to colleagues to access any folder or even send files through encrypted links on Dropbox. In emergency cases, there is a remote wipe option on the platform.
DropBox also serves as a data migration software and image hosting site. Some of the best Dropbox alternatives include pCloud, Sync.com, Google Drive, Icedrive, Box, Nordlocker, Backblaze, Microsoft OneDrive, and Amazon Drive.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Team Collaboration Services
Slack is a business communication platform that hosts search, archiving, and messaging solutions. Users can arrange group conversations in open spaces to discuss some specific topics or sensitive projects within private and invited participants.
Team members can react with each other using private, secure, and direct messages. Slack allows users to share PDFs, documents, and sheets. These files have options to comment and highlight for futuristic purposes.
Messages and notifications are indexed and archived automatically. The platform also supports voice and video calls. It has over 10 million active users around the world.
Best SaaS Provider for Graphic Design Services
Canva is an online platform that helps users to create diverse content for social media platforms. It has tools with the drag-and-drop feature which makes design easy for people without prior knowledge of graphic design.
There are lots of templates ready for you to work with. All you need to do is to pick a template, edit it to your taste, save it, and share it across the media. You can also download a copy after designing. On the platform, you can create banners, flyers, PPT presentations, book covers, posters, etc.
Canva is free to use and users have unlimited access to its tools. It has over 15 million active users worldwide.
Best Software as a Service Provider for Email Marketing Services
Mailchimp is an email marketing software that provides valuable email services to small-scale businesses. It launched features like marketable landing pages, social tools, snail mail marketing, and more.
SaaS companies use the platform to send newsletters to the contacts on the database. The email marketing platform has evolved from being an ordinary email tool to a full marketing hub for businesses.
On Mailchimp, you can survey by collecting feedback from your target audience. You can get email and landing pages templates. Also, you can share posts on different social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Some of the best Mailchimp alternatives include ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Sendinblue, Moosend, GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, and Omnisend.