Yes, there I said it. I can see the “Cult of SaaS” snipers congregating on the rooftops. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

In all seriousness though, when ServiceNow was quick to achieve success with its “SaaS-delivered IT service management goodness” at the tail end of the noughties, it was all about the SaaS (and customer satisfaction of course). It differentiated them from the ITSM tool vendor pack.

The "SaaS for ITSM" evolution

In a previous life I wrote about the potential for SaaS-delivered ITSM capabilities: SaaS and ITSM – a Marriage Made in Acronym Heaven? Who would have known that, as was, would have done so well, so quickly? I trust that their own projections were somewhat exceeded.

Some on-premise ITSM tool vendors said “unpleasant things” in the early days, but nigh on all of the major and minor ITSM vendors have since followed suit with their own SaaS offerings. In the spirit of the BBC and product endorsement I have to say that “other ITSM tools are available.” Check out some of the newest SaaS ITSM tool additions from Hornbill, LANDesk, and Numara.

Why is SaaS for ITSM a red herring?

Anyway, cutting to the chase … what sells a SaaS ITSM tool (or platform) such as ServiceNow? Many would think it is the fact that it is SaaS. I disagree.

While ServiceNow was once differentiated by SaaS, it no longer is. One could argue that ITSM tool buyers might look at ServiceNow and value its “SaaS credentials” in the larger ITSM tool marketplace, but they are not selling on SaaS. They are selling on capability. They are selling on meeting customer needs for modern enterprise technology.

As the title of the blog states: SaaS is a red herring. By all means, some customers might want to be divorced from the hosting and operational management of their ITSM tool, they might also want some form of cost consistency. But what they really want is a tool that meets their needs, a tool that is easy to use, a tool that is easy to change and upgrade, a tool that moves at the speed that their parent business requires them to (or faster). So while SaaS helps deliver some of this, it does not deliver all of this; ServiceNow is more than SaaS.

In fact, ServiceNow isn't a SaaS company. It’s also no longer just an ITSM tool vendor. To be honest I’m not entirely sure what it is anymore (and I don't mean this in a bad way). I wonder what their customers and prospective customers categorize them as? I bet that "SaaS" is a small part of what they love about ServiceNow, if they think of SaaS at all.

As the Knowledge11 ServiceNow annual user conference kicks off in an hour, maybe I will have a better idea in a day or two.

I’m sure another Knowledge11 blog will follow this week. In the meantime, feel free to follow my Twittering at the #know11 event:!/stephenmann

As always I value your input and thoughts.


Please check out my latest blog …