All wonderful future SaaS businesses are data co-ops.
The number one missed option of each of the huge incumbent SaaS businesses is they're not data co-ops.
What's a data co-op?
A data co-op is a service that utilizes first-party customer information to make a product which benefits all customers. That means whenever the product signs up a new client, the item gets better for many current clients.
A CRM statistics co-op -- a brand new Sales-force competitor
One of the problems with a CRM is keeping your contact info updated. Contact information goes stale. And frequently you only have partial contact info anyhow. A CRM which has a data co-op component would automatically keep all the contacts on your CRM updated utilizing the information from all the other customers. Essentially every customer helps every other client.
This is hard to do, however, Salesforce.com could do so. However, they'd first have to alter the terminology in all their existing agreements (now they expressly say they won't use any of their customer's information). So it is unlikely Sales-force is going to be able to ever create a data co-op which gives a chance for a new entrant to attack the incumbent.
Gmail: A spam data co-op
B2C businesses have been utilizing data co-ops forever. Facebook is a data co-op itself (the more people who join Facebook, the longer you gain).
However, not all B2C companies are evident data co-ops. Gmail has a superb data co-op attribute: spam filtering. Every user gains from the activities of all the other users... which is the reason Gmail is good at fighting spam.
Intercom is pictured as a data co-op
Intercom is a good product. They can see exactly the same user across several websites and have the potential to create that consumer's experience better everywhere. However, to the best of the knowledge, they've ensured they will not use data from a single website to inform an activity in a different site. That gives an extremely wide chance for a new player to strike the incumbent Intercom.
A recently created competitor to Intercom could sell the data co-ops a characteristic. When it sees an activity which is right for a particular user with one client, it may optimize that actions for this user across its other clients.
Same goes for fresh entrants to site search (competing with Algolia), payments (competing with Stripe), along with telecom APIs (competing with Twilio).
Freshbooks, Quickbooks, also Expensify as a data co-op
QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Xero, Expensify (or even NetSuite or Sage Intacct) might benefit all their clients by using data across their clients. Want to see whether you are spending too much on your own gains supplier? Your financial software provider could benchmark you together with each of their clients.
Needless to say, like nearly all heritage SaaS companies, today's fiscal SaaS companies have arrangements that prevent them from being an information co-op. So we must expect either a fresh financial software company will market a co-op for a characteristic or a different business will construct a co-op in addition to these financial firms. (In fact, Siftery has achieved something similar to this by creating co-op for software spend: Siftery Track - Magically monitor your SaaS).
Data co-ops sustains a winner-take-most market potential
The largest problem with SaaS businesses is that they are competitive. In fact, they are highly competitive. Often the chief has 25 percent market share, the fast follower has 20 percent, along with the #3 new-on-the-block has 15 percent. All have raised over $100 million and all have great engineering and sales. They end up in a tug-of-feature-war.
The reason traditional SaaS markets are so competitive is that there exist no product in the space that is definitely better than the others.
Data co-ops, in comparison, become stronger the more clients they have. Whenever they sign a new client, the product gets better for everybody. That frequently means that eventually, a product (the one with the most customers) is the very best (by far). This can lead to winner-take-most markets with the clients being happier (because of a superior product expertise) and company doing considerably better.
All Terrific prospective SaaS companies will be info co-ops
If you are beginning a SaaS company today, you should be building a data co-op to what it is you're building from the beginning. Get the rights from all your customers from the start (it is actually difficult to do later).
As soon as you've got a large number of customers, info co-ops are only valuable until then. That is the reason SaaS firms often do not push it. But changing contracts afterward is really, really hard. Therefore, sell the data co-op from the beginning.