Indian SaaS leadership remains a challenge in 2021, but the path is clear.
Technology today is dominated by software as a service sector. Despite the apparent potential of SaaS technology before the pandemic, the shift towards distributed workforces recently triggered a surge of interest as medium and large businesses adopted digital and remote sales processes, extending their utility to new levels.
Indian SaaS is a world phenomenon, but India has a unique opportunity to take it to the next level. A report by SaaSBOOMi and McKinsey estimates the Indian SaaS sector will generate revenues between $50 billion and $70 billion by 2030 and dominate 4%-6% of the global market.
It is predicted that the Indian SaaS market will generate revenue of $50 billion to $70 billion by 2030 and hold a 4%-6% share of the global market.
Several long-term trends are driving this expansion.
Indian SaaS unicorns on the rise
Innovation and success have accompanied the Indian SaaS community. Over the past few years, around a thousand funded SaaS companies have been founded in India, double the rate from five years ago. Based on SaaSBOOMi and McKinsey data, these businesses generate approximately 1% of the global SaaS market.
Although these firms serve diverse clients and address various problems, several gained attention by enabling flexibility for new remote workers during the pandemic, using apps from Zoho for collateral, videos, and demos; sales teams could streamline this pivot.
Freshworks and Eka are cloud-based platforms that offer businesses customer experience platforms, and Eka extends its platform to help the CFO office unify workflows from procurement to payments.
Meanwhile, other SaaS firms remained active in a variety of ways. There were ten unicorns in the pandemic: Postman, Zenoti, Innovacer, Highradius, Chargebee, BrowserStack, Mindtickle, Byju, UpGrad, Unacademy, and UpGrad.
Several venture funds also made significant investments, including $150 million for Postman. With $1 billion raised in 2020, the Indian SaaS community is four times as large as it was in 2018.
India’s journey to leadership
Despite the noticeable progress made by the Indian SaaS community in recent years, there are still several key growth drivers that might bring revenue of as much as $1 trillion by 2030. Among them are:
- Global go-to-market shifts to digital
Zoom is becoming increasingly popular among enterprises for evaluating products and making business decisions. In terms of access to customers and the end market, India’s embrace of digital go-to-market fundamentally levels the playing field.
By focusing field sales investments on critical customer segments, Indian companies will drive digitally enabled marketing and sales in the US, Western Europe and other key locales instead of being limited by a lack of field presence. As the SaaS ecosystem prepares for growth in several segments, this shift represents a significant tailwind for its ecosystem, along with product-led growth models.
In contrast to traditional, entirely in-person operations, we could now see 80 per cent of sales activities taking place remotely, with 50 per cent existing in a hybrid state, according to the report. Product-led models and digital marketing will be vital to achieving this goal. Currently, small companies interact with the Indian SaaS market through inside sales 70% of the time, but this is poised to change completely, as 80% of activity can be digitized.
- Develop deep tech offerings with a solid developer base
Approximately three million software and technology developers live in India, about 50% more than in the U.S. The country is home to many individuals using technology and software every day. SaaS companies in India have privileged access to key market segments, which allows them to develop products that cater to consumers worldwide.
The Indian companies can ultimately achieve dominance in the category if they focus on meeting developers’ most urgent needs and drive broad adoption of their products. IDC data indicates that developers tools are set to reach $160 billion in value by 2025, a powerful opportunity for these firms.
- Providing enterprises with post-sale support is inherent in customer success.
The post-sale customer experience has been gaining popularity in SaaS lately, and the trend is set to continue. Product-driven initiatives have been favoured for a while, but now the industry realizes that customer experience post-sales is critical to sustained revenue growth.
To drive high growth and create value, net retention rates of 120%-130% are crucial. According to a study by The Temkin Group, investing in customer experience can generate an average of $700 million more in three years for companies that earn $1 billion annually. An additional $1 billion will be added to the revenue of SaaS companies, in particular.
From leveraging analytical tools to assessing customer behaviour, there are many ways to boost customer engagement. In all instances, however, the thread is to invest in an area previously under-explored, and this is the area where SaaS companies can thrive.
Indian SaaS companies, with their years of experience in service and support and lower costs, are well-positioned to offer their customers a winning combination of superior products and professional services that separate them from global competitors.
- As a rule, SaaS markets aren’t winner-take-all.
Consumer technology is fundamentally different from enterprise technology since enterprise technology tends to be more open and flexible. Facebook, Google, and Amazon are household names, but Salesforce is just under 20% of the market share in the CRM space at the enterprise level.
Despite behemoths’ constant presence, SaaS companies can create new and better ways to serve their clients, develop new products, penetrate markets around the world, and scale their business in a resilient way by identifying relevant subdomains and microdomains.
Challenges to overcome
SaaS communities in India have a great deal of potential, but realizing it will not be easy. To meet the most optimistic predictions, these firms must take the following steps:
- Growing the talent pool
The report by SaaSBOOMi reveals that 77% of SaaS leaders in India say increasing critical talent is their biggest challenge. Product management, research and development, sales, marketing, and services and support talent pools need to be strengthened in Indian companies. Increasing talent pools in these areas by three to six times is necessary for Indian firms to remain competitive with their global counterparts.
The importance of developing talent cannot be overstated. The best product managers at global SaaS companies act as mini-CEOs for their products. In contrast, Indian companies are run mainly by engineers who turn into product managers but lack the business savvy necessary to manage them.
By mentoring more junior product managers, senior product managers can help them understand how products fit into the overall strategy and how marketing and sales operations interact.
Besides mentorship programs, academic courses, and internship programs that match the industry’s size, Indian SaaS companies should employ a more inclusive recruiting strategy and an open and employee-centric management style.
- Developing growth strategies centred on GTM
A growth mindset is necessary for growth. Under $5 million, Indian SaaS companies grow at an average of 50% per year, compared to 150%-200% for their global competitors.
One reason for the lack of investment in go-to-market efforts is that global SaaS leaders spend three times more on this area than Indian companies. Indian firms have struggled to grow retention due to the high cost of customer success in global SaaS firms. A lack of investment in this crucial marketing mix component is an issue that must be addressed.
The issue has many facets. India’s SaaS startups must implement sophisticated demand generation engines and analytics that monitor ROI and conversion rates to analyze their sales and marketing efforts. A more transparent approach can help them increase profitability and reduce churn. In addition to identifying at-risk customers, it can trigger outreach via technology.
SaaS has a bright future, and India will likely play a more significant role in that future. The Indian SaaS community won’t have to wait for long to become a large employer of talent, an important contributor to India’s GDP, and a source of industry-leading products.