Software as a Service is carrying Web Hosters through the Down Economy
Last week, I was fortunate to be able to attend and speak at Microsoft’s Hosting Day, held in Chicago on April 16. Microsoft Hosting Days is an annual event series held in different cities around the world. The goal of these events is to provide hosters, telcos, ISVs, VARs and systems integrators with more knowledge and more tools to help grow their business. I was impressed with the turnout of Microsoft employees, VARs, hosters and SIs, and it was great to see old friends and meet new ones. But what was more impressive was how many people told me that their sales have increased during the past quarter, a period that we all acknowledge was a downturn.
Of course, the skeptical New Yorker in me asked how this could be true. What I heard again and again was that in these difficult times, customers feel greater comfort working with a local trusted advisor than with a faceless website. Beyond that, the hosted Exchange model, especially one with no yearly purchase commitments, makes a great deal more sense than the traditional CapEx-based financial model of yesteryear.
Even more interesting is the fact that hosters seem to have an even easier time selling mobility and compliance add-ons in this environment. As counterintuitive as this may seem, it actually makes a lot of sense – the relentless demands of the market have forced even greater employee productivity, and companies now recognize that even lower-level employees can be markedly more productive if they have access to 24×7 messaging capabilities.
Coincidentally, the Web Hosting Industry Review sponsored an event that same evening. Both the venue and the turnout were terrific. More than 50 Midwest-based hosting companies and VARs made an appearance, and a good time was had by all—an exceptionally good time, actually. Mixing traditional hosting companies, VARs, IT consultants and even some clients was a terrific idea, and I congratulate the foresight of Liam Eagle, Alison Heather and the entire WHIR staff.
Overall, it was an uplifting experience. Hearing first-hand the successes being seen in the industry, even as times get tougher, just reinforced the fact that the service delivery model will not only sustain itself, but will continue to see impressive growth, no matter what the environment.