As in any industry, the SaaS industry also exhibits some major trends which define the current tech landscape. Some of the most important ones include Micro-SaaS and No-code tools. There are other important trends as well which we have detailed in another article solely dedicated to dissecting the different trends. We also have an article detailing the SaaS industry on a whole, for those who are new to this field.
First we will deep dive into the field of Micro-SaaS. The question that comes to mind immediately is ‘What is Micro-SaaS and how is it different from regular SaaS?’. The term 'Micro-SaaS' is most famously defined by Tyler Tringas of Storemapper as “A SaaS business targeting a niche market, run by one person or a very small team, with small costs, a narrow focus, a small but dedicated user base and no outside funding. Hence, micro-SaaS.” So technically a Micro-SaaS is a Software as a Service, but it is highly specialized and built as a small business which can be run by an individual (or relatively few people) remotely. The service provided is usually very specific and so it may not be something that everyone has the need for, but is of high value for those in that particular field.
Pros of Micro-SaaS
There are many reasons to account for the sudden rise of Micro-SaaS businesses.
Zero to low costs of startup - With the ubiquity of the internet and laptops/desktops, the cost of creating a SaaS that solves a very specific problem is extremely low. There is no requirement of any other kinds of infrastructure, at least at the beginning, making it easy to take the initial steps to starting up.
Faster time to market - These services can be created within less time as compared to conventional services and can be launched into the market very quickly. Also, making and rolling out new versions and bug fixes can also be done at a fast rate.
Increasing market - More and more businesses are becoming digital, especially after the COVID19 pandemic. It is now difficult for businesses to sustain themselves if they do not have an online presence. So the demand for digital services is increasing in every field.
Specificity - Many a time people do not use all the services offered in a software package and they prefer to pay only for services very specific to their use cases.
Easy integrations - This applies to all SaaS and not to Micro-SaaS specifically. Since these services are cloud based, it is easy to integrate them into workflows, or with each other to increase efficiency and manage them easily.
Democratization of software - With the advent of no-code and low-code tools, anyone with an idea potentially has the ability to make their own Micro-SaaS and it's not just people who know how to code or understand the nuances of engineering who have monopoly over this field. (We will discuss no-code tools in depth in the next section.)
It is precisely for this reason, the democratization of software, that knowledge about Micro-SaaS is important for everyone working in any field. The fact that anyone with an idea to eliminate some pain points in any field now has the ability to create the solution individually, with little to no financial input is an extremely powerful concept and will completely revolutionize the world if it hasn’t already.
iLovePDF is a great example of Micro-SaaS as it focuses only on PDFs and functions related to PDF modifications. It is extremely popular that most of us who use a desktop or laptop for work would have used it at one time or another. All the common features are free to use though they do provide some extra services with a paid premium version, catering to bulk modifications. They also have complementary desktop and mobile apps for those who prefer it that way but majority of people use it via the internet. The team has identified so many pain points, even minor ones, all related only to PDFs and have created a simple and intuitive platform. Some features include merging, splitting and compressing PDFs, and conversions between the PDF format into word, image and other formats.
Home page of iLovePDF.com outlining some of the features
Now that we’ve understood Micro-SaaS, it’s time we shift our focus onto the other trend in the SaaS industry - No-Code tools. No-code tools are those that provide a graphic interface for creation instead of the traditional use of programming languages. This means that the user doesn’t necessarily need any knowledge of coding, and provides a more intuitive, touch and feel approach to software development.
Here, it is important to note that Micro-SaaS and No-Code tools are not two sides of the same coin, though they are complementary in nature. It is possible to create Micro-SaaS at such a rapid rate because of the emergence of No-Code tools and many Micro-SaaS are in fact No-Code tools but this is not true in all cases.
Pros of No-Code tools
The reasons behind the increasing popularity of no-code tools are very similar to those that are propelling the increase of Micro-SaaS, the main and most important being that it is not necessary to be a coder to use these tools. From the perspective of businesses, using no-code tools help in cutting costs and also lessen the time it takes to develop a product/service. It also helps in creating more well-rounded and user-friendly products as everyone, including the design team, marketing team and upper management, can now be involved in the actual development process of the product.
This doesn’t mean that coders are doomed to lose their jobs because no-code tools are in fact coded behind the scenes. It is this code that provides a graphical interface on which users create their own products. It takes skilled developers to create a no-code tool that is flexible, intuitive and easy to use. The interface should be extremely pliable and customizable to cater to all possible ideas of a user and also provide a seamless experience. A good no-code tool should feel like an extension of the user’s imagination, and not something that needs a high degree of learning and reading documentation to work with. The more complex the function of the tool, the more difficult it is to create this smooth experience. Also, coders will still be required to build and maintain large and complicated software structures as no-code tools still haven’t reached their peak. Sometimes, making a crude prototype using no-code tools helps in testing and iterating on the product before approaching investors (or deciding to invest your own time and money) after which hiring a development team to build a more accurate product is justifiable. In short, nobody is eating away at the tech pie, but the pie is getting larger.
Cons of No-Code tools
Though the future of no-code tools is bright and its potential is yet to be reached, there are some negatives associated with it as well. One drawback is that once you decide to use a particular no-code tool, you are locked into that service and if you later decide that you need something more or different, it is extremely difficult to transfer to a new tool as you will lose all the work you have already done. Another drawback is that most no-code tools have limited customizability. They may have a vast number of templates to choose from, but there are usually a limited range of changes you can make to them so you may not be able to completely control the creation process. These may be the cons of using no-code tools currently but that doesn’t mean you should avoid using them because they definitely have more pros than cons. You should just be aware of their limitations before jumping into a subscription or spending your time on a tool.
No-code tools are in general available across all fields but the most common ones we see are in areas such as website/app development, project management, customer service, marketing, analytics and automation.
Haptic is a No-Code tool that falls under the broad field of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It enables anyone to build their own AI chatbots and deploy it on their websites to provide a direct channel of communication to their customers and clients and solve their problems from end-to-end. Their service allows interaction at every touchpoint to increase customer satisfaction, retention and trust which in turn leads to improvement in ROI. The platform has numerous pre-built conversation journeys based on data from real-life customer interactions which is constantly being iterated upon. Haptik's pricing varies with the number of messages sent and received so small companies with less traffic can also afford the integration.
Interface of a live chat on Haptik which includes all relevant information about the customer
To summarize, micro-saas and no-code tools are two of the biggest trends in the SaaS industry which are predicted to grow many-fold over the next few years. Both these trends aim to provide the best solutions for users and make their lives as easy as possible. Also due to the growth of these tools, the rate of development is speeding up and innovation is happening at a rate we have never seen before. This is the future of the software industry and it won’t be long before the world as we know it is completely different.