Were 2015's SaaS Predictions Spot On?

Much like the writers of the Back To The Future trilogy, these predictions can sometimes feel like nothing better than shots in the dark but, just occasionally, marketers are able to get it even more right than we ever thought possible.

We thought it would be fun to take a look back at four SaaS predictions from 2015, pit one against the other, and see who was best at foretelling the future, without the help of a Delorean, so fire up your flux capacitor and let’s take a look.

Prediction 1: We will have an increased focus on retention.

Almost every company will have a CRM system of some sort in place, if you haven’t then you really should be looking to.

They are essential to retaining your customers and collaborating with your colleagues.

According to Gartner, the CRM market will grow by 14.8% annually and the main deployment will be SaaS. - Chris B. from Sales-I

Improving customer service and satisfaction was the primary reason for putting money toward new technology, cited by 62%.

Increasing customer retention and providing a better customer experience also scored high marks. - eMarketer

Customer retention has traditionally ranked low as a business priority: as recently as 2012, marketers ranked “driving sales” as their highest concern while “engaging customers” and “building customer loyalty” tied for last place.

This is despite clear evidence that existing customers are more valuable than new customers. - Jerry Jao, Forbes Contributor

Sources say that it costs between four and ten times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, these predictions are worth looking into.

customer retention 2015

We started by looking for data to show any change in the interest people have shown for retention focused CRM in 2015.

Google Trends suggests that there have been no major changes during the past couple of years but we wanted to go a step further and find some actual numbers.

Econsultancy’s report reveals that 77% of companies planned to increase how much they spend on marketing in 2015, up from 71% in 2014.

What’s more interesting is that companies are increasing their investments when it comes to both customer retention and customer acquisition.

The data shows that investments in customer acquisition have increased by 12%, while investments in customer retention have increased by 6% since 2014.

It seems that, at least for now, companies are still more interested in acquiring new customers than they are in keeping the old ones.

Case studies ran by eMarketer and eConsultancy reveal that retention is a major issue encountered in the mobile apps and games.

For further reading, take a look at ...

We can’t deny the fact that investments in customer retention have increased, but they haven’t taken the spotlight from customer acquisition in 2015.

Even if they completely ignore customer retention a company can still grow, but the same can’t be said about acquisition.

Will retention ever become more relevant than acquisition or will growth hackers focus solely on acquiring new leads?

growth hack 2015 prediction

In SaaS we are beginning to notice how negative churn is slowly becoming a really important metric for the industry.

Will negative churn become the most relevant metric when it comes to growth hacking? Only time will tell.

Prediction 2: We will have better tools and become more data literate.

SaaS maturing will bring new market opportunities. A ‘one solution fits all’ strategy is no longer good enough and the market is looking for specific industry products.

In industries like manufacturing, wholesale and distribution, 2015 will see new apps launched to specifically counteract any constraints and will be more appealing to enterprise customers. - Sales-I

Software has been eating the world for few years already. There is now a software for almost each specific industry and jobs.

This trend is going to strengthen, and get to all sorts of jobs, doctors, lawyers, hairdressers, etc.

Each needs a new, user-friendly and affordable software to replace outdated tools. - eFounders

Time to take a look at the details. In 2014, for the first time, Google Play surpassed Apple for the number of apps available. The emerging markets lead the growth rate in Google Play app downloads.

Brazil led with a 90-percent growth rate, followed by India at 50-percent and Russia and Mexico at 30-percent

China has become the number one source of iOS downloads after experiencing 30% growth during a single year. The App Store reached 1.5 mil apps in June 2015.

Both platforms have experienced huge growth and, with the release and development of new devices like the Apple Watch and Smart TVs, the number of apps can only go up.

Although it’s very unlikely that we will end up having an app for everything in 2015, developers are finding new ways to create apps that we had no idea we actually needed.

Does this increase in apps also mean that we are becoming more data literate?

7. Business Intelligence software will become more visual – and easier to use.

“In 2015, BI solutions will look as good as they operate, and will operate as good as they look," says James Richardson, business analytics strategist, Qlik, a provider of business intelligence and data visualization software.

“Enterprise customers have been asking for BI solutions that are easier to use – self-service solutions. And visualization is key to this,” he explains.

“By rendering data in easy-to-read graphs and charts, users will be able to understand their data in a way that is natural to them, breaking down the barriers between people and their data.” - Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, CIO

We had a look at a few analytics tools to see how business intelligence apps evolved in 2015.

It seems that some of them are trying to make their reports a lot more visual. Examples include Sisense, Decibel Insight, and InsightSquared.

It’s not just that business intelligence tools are getting better, but that data scientists are also getting better.

Universities and online education platforms have begun offering courses and accreditation for data scientists.

You can find anything from “Introduction to Data Science” on Coursera to “Become a Data Analyst - A Beginner's Guide” on UDacity, or get a Data Science Certificate from Harvard.

This doesn’t mean that everyone will be able to read and interpret data, but the business intelligence industry is evolving on both ends: data scientists and web analytics tools.

Prediction 3: We will be hacked.

1. Hackers will execute a “ransomware attack” on a cloud service

As enterprises move more and more sensitive data to the cloud, cloud services become more desirable targets for sophisticated attacks.

Dyre, a complex malware aimed at the enterprise cloud service Salesforce, set the precedent that “the cloud has arrived.”

This trend will continue with a ransomware attack against a cloud service.

2. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be the target of a major cyber attack

Consumer applications such as wearables and smart home devices get much of the IoT press, but Internet-connected sensors and actuators are quietly entering critical infrastructure, ranging from jet engines to power plants.

Criminal organizations and state-backed groups perpetrate an increasing amount of cyber attacks.

As a natural target for these types of groups, expect to see a major attack on the Internet of Things in 2015. - Rajiv Gupta, Skyhigh Networks

Not your normal day-to-day predictions, but did it happen? Definitely!

Ashley Madison, “the premier website for discreet connections”, experienced a security breach earlier this year.

The attackers published approximately 30GB of alleged user data. It looks like the attackers wanted Ashley Madison to shut down.

The website is still up and running and, rather than shutting down, it looks like they’ve managed to increase their user base by approximately 5.5 mil users since the attacks, less than six months ago.

Not too shabby! I’d love to see a case study on how Ashley Madison managed to come out on top of this after everything that happened.

The other prediction regarding a major cyber attack also came true. VTech, a Hong Kong based supplier of e-learning products for children, was compromised.

The hackers accessed 5 million parent accounts and 6.4 million children’s profiles worldwide.

While the attack took place around the 14th of November, the company confirmed that they only started looking into it on the 23rd of November after they were contacted by a journalist.

VTech launched a press release that is being updated as their investigation is making progress.

We aren’t aware of any hacks on small businesses. Could small and medium SaaS businesses be a target in 2016?

Large enterprises are outsourcing more and more of their tasks to small and medium SaaS companies we could end up in a place where the small SaaS can become a backdoor that the hackers will use to get to corporations.

How to protect your business from hackers is a whole other article but it would be remiss of us not to make the usual reminders about strong passwords and taking advantage of two-step authentication wherever it is available.

Prediction 4: We will get better at SEO

If we were awarding the golden (crystal) ball to the person with the best track record for making predictions though, it would have to go to Rand Fishkin.

Over on Moz in his now annual tradition, he refuses to make any new predictions without first proving his chops on the previous year’s guesses.

They definitely make interesting reading if you’re keen to dig in more.

But before you go, did you make any predictions for 2015 and if you did, how close did you get? Tell us all about it in the comments.

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