The cloud’s main story so far has been one of horizontal providers, such as salesforce.com, Microsoft and Amazon, offering one-size-fits-all solutions. While these providers had some success in the financial services sector, their products weren’t specialized enough to address the need of asset managers or bankers.
The advent of vertical SaaS providers is the topic of my latest article, Will 2014 be the Year of Vertical Clouds, written for Wired. Even though they’re a young market today, expect to see a larger number of these vertical cloud providers getting scale and attention, in 2014.
“In the days before the cloud, on-premise software providers that focused on selling into a vertical market were considered second-class citizens to the ‘big guns’ selling into the broader horizontal marketplace. However, with the advent of the SaaS model, the tables have turned,” according to Gordon Ritter of Emergence Capital.
Which is great news for the financial industry, since we will see vertical providers going very deep even in niche areas that which most people thought didn’t exist, or weren’t sizable enough. For instance, Navatar provides products for corporate venture funds and corporate development groups, a market few software providers had historically paid any attention to.
As I have pointed out in the article, vertical cloud providers go deep to address the needs within their market – much deeper than a one-size-fits-all provider would. They act as a one-stop-shop for their customers. Navatar, for instance, provides wealth managers with CRM from salesforce.com, content sharing from Box, and data from custodians, portfolio management and reporting systems — all bundled into one offering. Not only do these solutions provide a competitive advantage for financial firms, but they also reduce spend on IT staff.
We may see a huge influx of vertical providers, and a lot of lame lemmings and road kill. A vertical cloud provider’s success will depend on their ability to fully address their market’s needs as opposed to offering a piecemeal solution or an easily replaceable solution. Equally important, their survival will depend on how well they support their customers (customers are becoming more aware of their increased clout in the cloud and getting more demanding and less forgiving).
But, we will surely see some great companies emerge. So far, the future looks promising.