Is there a Chief SaaS Officer in the house?
October 16, 2008
By Jeff Freund
This summer, I moderated a roundtable sponsored by the SIIA R&D Board. A group of SaaS technology executives were discussing sustainable SaaS practices. It covered a broad range of topics, including security, application development, rollout methodologies, etc. It was amazing how many times the conversation shifted back to some legal aspect of things – from SLAs, to negotiating with partners, etc. The CTOs and VPE’s sitting around that table (myself included!) are clearly being called on to perform analysis and duties far outside the traditional scope of product development, engineering or research and development.
This seems to be a prevalent theme in SaaS businesses, where complex partner and business relationships meet head on with complex technology and service models. People look to the CTO/VPE’s as the guys with the answers for such complex things as they are the ones who connect all the pieces together from a technology perspective. At one point someone suggested that maybe there is a new role that is emerging at SaaS company: the Chief SaaS Officer.
This would be someone with great technical aptitude, but also someone with the business acumen and legal training to be able to construct meaningful partner agreements from both a technology and business point of view, someone who could build SLAs that matched both the technology and legal requirements, and someone that can handle many of the ancillary tasks that are currently failing to the technologists.
I do not know of any Chief SaaS Officers out there right now, but I suspect that this role is currently distributed throughout the executive teams of most SaaS businesses with much of it failing onto the technologists among them.