What are the biggest SaaS trends of 2021?

Updated on 7th March 2021

AI to Automation. Acquisitions to micro-SaaS. The big SaaS trends we're seeing when sourcing new marketing software to review.

The pandemic has been making of SaaS. More of us are working, shopping, socialising and everything else in between at home and digital marketing tools are helping businesses to function and thrive in this new world.

Here are some of the big trends we’ve spotted on our mission to find the best SaaS for your business.

Automation and APIs

The big SaaS companies have got bigger, which is creating more opportunities for unbundling, as their core features fail to support edge cases. This, in turn, is giving rise to automation services such as Zapier and IFTTT to patch them all together and eliminate repetitive tasks.

Switching costs, so it’s important that tools talk to one another. Step up APIs, making sure new additions to our SaaS stacks can seamlessly work with the tools and processes teams are already using.

AI and machine learning

AI, too, is stepping up, as businesses look to speed up processes and response times, act on real-time insights, and optimise every last dollar out of potential leads. SaaS is increasingly using AI to augment human capabilities, allowing us all to bring the best versions of ourselves to work, even if we choose to do so remotely. The amount of data that can be gleaned from customers is so extensive that only AI analyse it at scale, making for far more efficient and pre-emptive decision-making. Nobody knows their customers better than a traditional store owner, however that same level of personal service is only possible at a global level with machine learning.

The rise of micro-SaaS

At Surges, I’m particularly interested in what’s happening at the other end of the scale, with independent SaaS makers.

The no- and low-code movement is bringing new ideas to life in a matter of days, not months. Let alone saving tens of thousands in development costs. This new breed of micro-SaaS are typically super-serving a small segments of customers by offering a much-requested add-on that helps to get more out of the tools users already love. Popular tools can have entire ecosystems of plugins, helping customers to take payments, segment their customer base and send emails, run advanced analytics and automate their sales workflows, much, much more.

Privacy-focused software

After all the data scandals customers are becoming increasingly clued up on their personal data and how it’s used.

As a result, we’re seeing more and more privacy-focused SaaS products come onto the market.

Standing up to big tech, they pride themselves on not tracking customers round the web or trading your personal data for profit. There’s private advertising networks such as ContextCue and brave, private analytics such as Fathom, private search engines and PPC, video-calling, messaging and so much more. With more customers become switched on to their personal data and how it’s used, expect that trend to explode in the coming years.

SaaS IPOs and acquisitions

SaaS platforms are flavour of the month for investors, with their IPOS and SPACs commanding lofty valuations.

The soaring popularity of SaaS is translating into a raft of new flotations, including Squarespace, Trustpilot, Snowflake and Freshworks CRM. There’s simply never been a better time for SaaS founders to cash in on their creations.

We’re also seeing SaaS darlings get swallowed up by tech giants. When Microsoft added its Slack clone Teams to its 365 bundle without upping the price, Salesforce countered by buying Slack for $27.7 billion. Even if a tool’s ARR falls far short of its valuation, they’re not exactly struggling for suitors, as they can quickly fill emerging gaps in a tech monolith’s armoury. Expect many more shrew SaaS acquisitions to follow.

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