XaaS: The true value of anything and everything

‘Everything-as-a-service’ isn’t a new buzzword. It has the potential to be a virtuous cycle that simultaneously benefits businesses and customers.
Hundreds of lines on a grey gradient background. Each line is connected by circular icons of black, blue and grey, each of which represents a different aspect of cloud computing and the Internet of Things.
Marc Bory

Written by Marc Bory

European Planning, Marketing and Innovation Senior Director

You may have heard it called ‘everything-as-a-service’, ‘anything-as-a-service’, or the far catchier acronym ‘XaaS’. But whatever your preferred lingo, this subscription-based model is now an inescapable fact of life in the Business-to-Business world.

We’re all familiar with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the revolutionary older sibling of XaaS, that allowed software to be accessed through the cloud. It was a pioneering way for businesses to offer their standard solution at a lower, distributed cost of entry, but also meant that customers needn’t worry about weighty upfront costs and long-term maintenance contracts. Of course, over a decade on, this is commonplace, but its influence has now reached plenty of other industries. Through the cloud we’re seeing this model applied at pace to other business offerings and gaining widespread acceptance.

For example, it’s not uncommon to see such ‘as-a-service’ concepts as ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service (a kind of pay as you go cloud service that offers compute, storage and networking on demand) or ‘Platform-as-a-Service’ (Like IaaS but designed to support the web application lifecycle and provides development tools, business intelligence services and database management systems). Both offer businesses the flexibility to scale up or down as they require and can be instantly updated. Remote and on-demand? It’s no surprise that products, services and experiences are becoming rapidly ‘XaaS-ified’.

Has any of this come as a surprise? Well, no. Analysts were discussing this shift nearly five years ago and predicted that by 2024 the global XaaS market would surpass $340 billion. However, they didn’t factor in a pandemic and the race to adapt business models to gain a competitive edge in a pandemic/post-pandemic world. It makes sense, given the rise of the on-demand economy and the highest ever levels of customer expectation. XaaS applies the principles of ‘servitisation’ which, despite sounding like a corporate buzzword, is a legitimate way to describe the kinds of businesses that sell a continuous outcome, over a single product. Transforming to this kind of model also fosters an ongoing relationship and sense of engagement and collaboration with customers, known to be factors in any successful offering.

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It's nothing short of a golden opportunity for businesses. Instead of simply rolling out updates and using the standard customer delivery techniques to analyse how products are being employed, it’s possible to use the cloud to gain real-time insights. Imagine being able to see exactly the how, when and why of your customer’s experience, as it happens. It’s the kind of deeper understanding that B2B dreams are made of. It keeps organisations one step ahead of customer needs and creates an environment of constant improvement based on hard data. Equally, customers see the true value of being directly connected to a business every time they use a service, product or function because they are on the receiving end of a virtuous circle of monitor-measure-identify-fix.

Clearly, collaboration is key and XaaS lends itself to mutually beneficial outcomes and long-term investment. The very basis of the subscription model means that customers must frequently consider their repurchase decision. This payment model holds businesses continually accountable and – crucially ­– means that products are bolstered as a matter of necessity. After all, if all your contracts risk ending on a regular basis, then you’ll do everything within your power to ensure that your customers do not defect to a competitor. And so positive change naturally occurs.

Change, however, takes commitment. While the XaaS model holds the keys to business growth for many, a true proposition requires plenty of planning in the implementation. It must offer genuine engagement, scrupulous monitoring and a duty of continuous improvement. It is not enough to add a digital connection and a subscription to current offerings. The expectation of exceptional ‘as-a-service’ is only going to grow, particularly as true hybrid working becomes less of a conversation and more of a reality. Ultimately, the X in XaaS could easily be replaced with a V – for value.

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Marc Bory European Planning, Marketing and Innovation Senior Director

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