Software as a Service (SaaS) has quickly become one of the most dominant technology trends of our time. Over the last decade or so, many of the world's greatest software enterprises have successfully repositioned themselves as cloud-based companies, while many others are slowly but surely embracing the transition.
Further, with the pandemic-induced acceleration towards digital, the SaaS industry is now expected to grow at an even faster rate than experts had anticipated. Projected to now reach $1 trillion in value by 2030, with a potential to create over 5 lakh jobs, Indian SaaS is a hard-to-ignore-growth market that is opening up a pool of opportunities for fresh talent.
Indian SaaS industry on the cusp of a transformation
According to a report by SaaSBooMi (a SaaS community), McKinsey and NAASCOM, there are close to 1000 funded SaaS companies in India, including 10 unicorns, that generate $2-$3 billion in revenue and employ about 40,000 people.
As a result, India saw an investment of $1.5 billion in SaaS in 2020 -- a four-fold jump over the last two years. This included the burgeoning of six new unicorns in the sector - namely, Postman, Zenoti, Innovacer, Highradius, Chargebee and Browserstack.
Freshworks, a Chennai-based SaaS startup, became a unicorn in 2019 and took Indian SaaS to new heights with its public listing on NASDAQ earlier this year. Its remarkable journey can be seen as a starting point for the positive trajectory of Indian SaaS.
Such success stories also create an entrepreneurship cascade, which in turn generates more jobs.
A flourishing space for non-IT professionals
According to a report by Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, two of the core winning characteristics that Indian SaaS companies should possess are “remote and enterprise sales”. These companies must hire skilled personnel in the sales area that would help them to expand in global markets, and close larger deals, all remotely.
To enable this, founders are also focusing largely on a digital go-to-market strategy, which would drive up the demand for highly skilled digital marketing professionals in India. While a prior B2B tech experience is often preferred, employers are open to hiring smart talent with bundled skill sets, even if they come from other industries and professional backgrounds.
Built on a subscription model, Indian SaaS companies drive a large amount of revenue from existing customers. Maintaining focus on efficient customer service and building meaningful relationships with customers is extremely crucial for continued revenue growth. With a high focus on customer service and support roles, more than 4 million IT/BPO professionals have the chance to enter the SaaS industry.
Regardless of which sector or brand a candidate has worked with in the past, SaaS companies are willing to offer them well-paying and fast-growing jobs as long as they display the right mix of skills and a willingness to learn and adapt quickly.
An attractive career arena for techies
While the Indian economy still hasn’t recovered from the brutal impact of the second wave of COVID-19, the Indian cloud-based software industry is continuing on its growth trajectory and is progressing at a record pace.
According to Naukri JobSpeak, an index of hiring trends in India, in June, tech hiring was 55% higher compared to January 2021, and 51% higher compared to June 2019. Furthermore, SaaS offers 30% higher salaries as compared to traditional IT services. “If you get a reasonable 2-3 years of experience, salaries have virtually doubled in the last one year,” says Haresh Chawla, a partner at True North, an Indian private equity firm.
According to data from business solutions provider Quess, IT skills like Cloud infrastructure technology, Android app development, Full-stack development, Data analytics, and Angular JS have seen a surge in demand since the April-June quarter of 2021. Some roles have witnessed more than a 100% increase in new openings.
With higher salaries, innovative and shorter projects, there is a huge opportunity for young talent to learn and grow.
Culture of innovation and ownership
As SaaS firms tend to innovate iteratively, product development tends to be more robust and dynamic. These companies also offer employees exposure to state-of-the-art technology. Unlike conventional IT firms, teams work on multiple projects with shorter stints. This is especially exciting for young tech talent that’s more prone to finding long-term projects monotonous.
Additionally, for technical job seekers looking for greater creativity in their roles, SaaS companies can be an ideal fit. On the product development front, SaaS companies reward and encourage innovation, reducing restrictive coding practices and enabling out-of-box thinking.
With increasingly distributed and remote work, companies also have to focus on driving a culture of innovation and employee engagement. SaaS startups often offer attractive perks that are aligned with the needs of this generation of employees - like group health insurance, gym membership, mental health sessions, and more. With such benefits, it is hardly a surprise that the SaaS model is attracting and reshaping the start-up landscape and opening up opportunities for young talent.
Overcoming the challenges ahead
As is expected in any industry with high potential, there are some inherent challenges that may come in the way of SaaS’ growth. India's strict regulatory environment forces a majority of SaaS companies to set up holding companies offshore in the US or Singapore. Hence, value generation often largely occurs outside of India, even though job creation happens here. The RBI regulations, while great for security, act as a hindrance for SaaS companies to raise recurring invoices to their global clients. Nonetheless, policymakers and NASSCOM are working with SaaS companies to ease these regulations.
Apart from dealing with these policy and regulatory barriers, SaaS firms that want to thrive and shine in the competitive job markets of today will also need to craft an inspiring culture, break down siloed ways of working and offer better incentives to attract the right mix of talent.
It is vital for business leaders to become closely involved in the SaaS journey. They must leverage the burgeoning market by focusing on building a culture of innovation, scaling growth, and investing in their core operational capabilities. This is what will shape the future success of their businesses while setting the foundation for the next generation of skilled workforce in India.