SaaS AI: The Future and 5 Companies Doing it Right

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You’re likely already familiar with SaaS, PaaS, and Iaas if this article caught your interest. How about AIaaS? Or AaaS? While AaaS may not be the best-looking acronym, it’s becoming increasingly noteworthy in the ‘as a service’ sphere.

AIaaS: Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS) is the third party offering of artificial intelligence (AI) outsourcing. AI as a service allows individuals and companies to experiment with AI for various purposes without large initial investment and with lower risk.

AaaS: Algorithm as a Service (AaaS) is an algorithm based on the cloud so users can develop, run and use algorithms on a platform without incurring the cost and hassle of buying and maintaining the underlying architecture.

The Difference Between SaaS, AIaaS, and AaaS

SaaS is an acronym meaning software as a service, but artificial intelligence and algorithms aren’t exactly “software”. With SaaS, applications and tools are hardcoded. They function the same way, day in day out, as they were programmed to.

Discussing AaaS (algorithm as a service) is a little more complex. In simplest terms, an algorithm is a process or set of rules that manipulate the behaviour of an application when it encounters certain triggers.

AIaaS (artificial intelligence as a service) is best summarized by Kaya Ismail, who explains: “AI […] is a group of algorithms that can modify its algorithms and create new algorithms in response to learned inputs and data”. Essentially, AI learns and adjusts based on the data it intakes.

These three services are inherently different, and keeping them on your radar is key. AIaaS is to SaaS, as SaaS once was to traditional computing: it’s the future.

GIF of Doc from Back to the Future saying "I always dreamed of seeing the future"

How SaaS Benefits From AIaaS

Let’s get one thing straight—the SaaS pool is a competitive one. According to a study by Price Intelligently, SaaS companies emerging in 2015 faced 2.6 competitors in their first year of business. In 2019, that number grew to 9.7. While that may not seem like much at first glance, that’s a whopping 273% increase in four years. SaaS companies have to stay ahead of the game with the “next big thing”. Cue artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has shifted from a commodity that makes a company stand out, to a necessity that keeps a company from falling behind. Bluntly put, artificial intelligence has transitioned from “good to have” to “need to have”. Compared to the $12 billion spent on AI in 2017, it’s projected that over $57 billion will be spent on AI by the end of 2021.

The Unity of SaaS and AIaaS

Yes, AI is cool. However, cool comes at a cost—that’s where AIaaS and SaaS unite. A SaaS company may be eager to integrate AI, but can’t afford to develop and manage the AI technology. Successful AI often requires many parallel machines and GPUs that must be speedy (a.k.a costly). By using AIaaS, companies can leverage the power of machine learning (aka artificial intelligence) at a significantly lower cost. AIaaS also offers transparency and lower cost since you only pay for what is used, instead of keeping it running 24/7. Another benefit of seeking AIaaS is that it’s guaranteed to be user-friendly right out of the box, so your team can implement AI right away and focus on what they do best. AIaaS lets smaller companies get in on the AI action without fully committing so that they can determine if it’s a good fit for their company.

Why Integrate AI with SaaS?

We know AI is powerful, but why is critical to SaaS?

Self-Serve SaaS

Customers prefer to seek answers on their own. Chatbots (one type of AI) can offer solutions and recommendations to a user almost instantly, therefore eliminating wait times and as a result, creating a credible reputation. In the event the bot can’t answer a client’s question, it can direct them to get in touch with a human.

Getting Personal

Customers are looking to have detailed, personal conversations once they do speak with a human. According to research by Salesforce, 75% of B2B customers expect suppliers to predict their needs before they initiate contact. Knowing a customer’s details and repeating them back lets the customer know that they’re in good hands. AI paints a complete picture of how client use services, and therefore specific recommendations can be made. Moreover, the data collected by AI will help the company better market to this client in the future.

Make it Automatic

Automation makes work easier for everyone! A lot of processes have become automated, from lead generation to subscription renewal. When mundane, administrative processes are automated, sales professionals can focus their energy towards customer service.

Talent Where it Matters

There’s no way to completely eliminate mundane tasks. However, you can choose who is doing them. Assigning robotic, admin tasks to AI frees up time! Your team can then work on the creative, innovative projects they were actually hired for. Employees and colleagues that are excited about their work make for a happier team and successful company.

Competition, Competition, Competition

SaaS companies are on the brink of being left behind if they choose not to move forward with some kind of AI integration. With the competition that already exists, do you really want to miss out on an opportunity to AI-m higher?

Five Companies Doing it Right

While there are tons of SaaS companies dominating the AI game, here are five that you’ve definitely heard of (if you haven’t, get Googling!).

Grammarly:

Leading the AI-based language detection and enhancement technology, Grammarly incorporates deep learning and natural language processing into its SaaS model. With the AI-enabled text editor, it delivers excellent real-time language and grammar recommendations to the user.

Amazon:

Not just in its e-commerce business, Amazon uses AI for its entire SaaS model. In fact, one of the most prominent uses of AI at Amazon caters to the understanding of customers and their expectations to deliver better services. Could any better implementation of AI in SaaS exist?

Dropbox:

Providing online storage service through its highly efficient SaaS model, Dropbox is one of the most successful SaaS businesses in 2020. The company acknowledges deliberate efforts to incorporate AI in all of its products and services, for purposes like OCR, etc.

Zendesk:

Zendesk hits the right spot when it comes to the usage of AI in SaaS businesses. Leading the customer relationship management industry, Zendesk offers AI tools including customer service chatbot software, etc.

Adobe:

Adobe has been one of the most successful transitions in the history of SaaS. A lot of credit goes to the usage of AI, machine learning, and deep learning for the purpose of understanding content, and recommending personalization, segmentation, etc.

AI is Here to Stay

After gaining increased traction in 2018 and essentially becoming a staple in all business—not only SaaS—it’s safe to say that AI is here to stay. While AI can never replace the authenticity or creativity of us humans, the integration of AIaaS and AaaS along with SaaS proves to be profitable and effective. We don’t think a robot takeover is happening (anytime soon 😅), but it will be interesting to watch as AIaaS becomes more mainstream and AI integrates into more marketing initiatives.

Feel free to comment below or reach out on our socials using the hashtag #saasAI to tell us your thoughts on the future of SaaS and AI! If you’re looking for automation solutions for your business, feel free to reach out and we can get started.

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