Monday, January 07, 2008

7 Businesses to Start in 2008

Rather than offer a list of predictions for 2008, I thought I'd have some fun suggesting some businesses that could make you money in 2008 or the few years following.

  1. SaaS<-->Enterprise data conversion practice: All those existing enterprise apps will need to have their data migrated to that trendy new SaaS tool; and should anyone actually decide they hate their first vendor, they'll be spending that money again to convert to the next choice. Perhaps they'll even get fed up and return to traditional enterprise software. Easy money.
  2. Enterprise Integration as a Service: No matter how much functionality one SaaS vendor will provide, it will never be enough. Integration will always be necessary, but where/how will it be delivered? Go for the gold with a browser based integration option. Just figure out how to do it better/cheaper/faster than force.com, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc...
  3. SaaS meter consolidation service: Given the problem stated in 2 above, who wants 5 or 6 bills where its impossible to trace the cost of a transaction across vendors? Provide a single billing service that consolidates the charges of the vendor stable and provides additional analytic capabilities to break down where costs and revenues come from. Then get ready to defend yourself against the data ownership walls put up by those same vendors (see 4 below).
  4. SaaS/HaaS Customer litigation practice: Given the example of Scoble's experience with Facebook, there are clearly a lot of sticky legal issues to be worked out about "who owns what". Ride that gravy train with litigation expertise in data ownership, vendor contractual obligations and the role of code as law.
  5. SaaS industry (or SaaS customer) data ownership rights lobbyist: Given 4 above, each industry player is going to want their voice in congress to protect/promote their interest. Drive the next set of legislation that screws up online equality and individual rights.
  6. Sys Admin retraining specialist: All those sys admins who will be out of work thanks to cloud computing are going to need to be retrained to monitor SLAs across external vendor properties, and to get good at waiting on hold for customer service representatives.
  7. Handset recycling services: The rate at which "specialized" hardware will evolve will raise the rate of obsolescence to a new high. Somebody is going to make a killing from all those barely used precious metals, silicon and LCD screens going to waste. Why not you?

4 comments:

Rick said...

Hi James,

I like many of your startup ideas, and in particular #2! We have delivered a new service called Boomi On Demand which is exactly what you have noted here, integration using just your web browser. We think it solves a big problem and re-invents integration. Users can find us on the web (at boomi.com), and sign up, build, deploy, and manage integrations using just their web browser!

James Urquhart said...

Thanks, Rick. Looks very cool.

Just out of curiosity:

- What kind of traction are you getting? Do you have enough business to grow to a competitive position before Microsoft and/or Google enter the market? I know from Ray Ozzie's position statements on utility computing that Microsoft will meet you guys head on in the next 12-24 months.

- Are you guys going to open up development of adapters, pipes, etc, to third parties? Perhaps open source a framework for this purpose?
- What kind of standard technologies for connectors, etc, do you support now or are you committed to support in the future? How will you avoid being part of the cloud lock-in problem?

Again, very cool stuff. I wish you the best of luck.

Rick said...

Hey James,

Thanks for the great questions. Traction has been tremendous with just under 200 companies joining our beta program that just concluded 2 weeks ago. This was a much higher turnout than expected, with participants ranging from small businesses to divisions of fortune 1000 companies.

Regarding competitors, we are actually complimentary to the platform solutions like MS, Amazon, google, Force.com etc., as we provide a visual front end to integration. Non-developers can visually design, deploy, and manage their integrations from their browsers and dont have to write code. We have been perfecting this visual integration technology over the last 8 years and have a ton of IP behind it. Solutions like Microsoft play a huge role in what we do, as they will make it easy for apps delivered in their platforms to be consumed as web services by our platform.

Development: Yes! We think this will truly reinvent the way apps are integrated. By opening up our platforms, developers will be able to build and monetize connectors to apps for which they have specialized knowledge. Most of these capabilities will utilize SOAP and REST style web services, and we also have connectors for numerous other technologies as well, ranging from JDBC to COM to HTTP, FTP, POP/SMTP, etc.

Thanks again for the note-

Anonymous said...

Good post! The ability to meter SaaS is really becoming increasingly important. There are already handful of companies that exist to do just that though, so you might meet tough competition. One of the major players in this business is eVapt, they are based in Austin, TX, and is growing quite fast. Watch out!