When we speak about artificial intelligence, most people associate it with “something smart.” From voice assistants capable of finding the answer to any question and self-driven cars to cutting-edge fridges that can plan meals and stream your favorite content – the game is changing, technology is engaging, and AI is getting smarter and smarter on its own.
However, the concept of artificial intelligence is wider than it seems. As you may see from progressive web app examples, AI enhances the work of PWAs, making them fast, responsive, and impressively stable compared to native apps.
AI may also include such technologies as natural language programming, machine learning, neural network, deep learning, machine perception.
All the things mentioned above, one way or another, are created due to merging those technologies.
Yet, the impact of AI goes beyond the building of smart things for IT corporations.
A plethora of companies and vendors of different sizes try to jump on the AI bandwagon to take advantage of intelligent software and hardware to improve their products and services.
Questions about AI
How will AI help improve customer support experience? Why businesses are striving to implement AI chatbots — and what to expect from them in the future.
Image Credit: Official Victoria’s Secret website.
The Past of Chatbots in Customer Service
Interaction with chatbots used to be a painstaking and frustrating experience in the past. That was because chatbots were equipped with specific templates of responses and weren’t flexible if the user’s intent didn’t coincide with the preset scenarios.
Image credit: Medium
What was the purpose of the above Chatbot survey? It was designed to surface the answer like “Couldn’t find anything” and suggested following the strict “phone tree” menus.
As a result, users got disappointed in the technology and turned to live agents for assistance. But nowadays, AI has turned the tables making chatbots more sophisticated and intelligent.
Artificial Intelligence and Customer Support: a Match Made in Heaven
The immense impact of artificial intelligence is most noticeable in the customer service area. With more and more companies using chatbots as smart assistants, the number of interactions carried out without human participation is growing exponentially.
Chatbots are here to stay. While humans are limited by biological evolution, AI is not. As artificial intelligence is becoming smarter and stronger, bots have fewer and fewer restrictions on what they can’t do. They proved themselves as valuable technology in terms of both personal and business use.
So, let’s dwell further on the subject and discover what makes things really intelligent, how AI-driven chatbots work, what progress has been made, and why artificial intelligence is considered to be one of the major drivers for the customer service industry.
What Do We Mean by Artificial Intelligence?
The most important part about AI is that the technology makes it possible for computer systems and machines to mimic human behavior and natural processes by adjusting to new inputs and learning from previous experiences.
In a nutshell, the concept of artificial intelligence is based on simulating human cognitive behavior. In this regard, the software is “intelligent” if it:
- understands the current context;
- can make decisions evaluating both the environment and previous experience;
- can learn;
- has a memory that allows a chatbot to remember pertinent details to reuse during a conversation;
- in equivocal situations rest upon so-called “common sense.”
No doubts, AI is becoming smarter with each day and similarly enhancing natural human behavior. Thus, with the technology evolution, it becomes easy for smart software to identify the emotional coloring of a message and respond to it relatively. This creates opportunities for empathic conversation and significantly improves communication between two parts.
A shining example of this ability is the Cogito Corp. Cogito is AI-driven software that helps customer service agents to improve their outcomes. It can detect such speech patterns as tone, pace, pitch, empathy, pauses, word frequency, and others to give the agents coaching suggestions on responding to them correspondingly.
As such, once installed on the CRM, the software displays immediate real-time notifications to the service agents, advising them to speak slowly, loudly, gently, amiably, make a pause, or start talking. Below you can see how this assistant works.
Image credit: Cogitocorp
Conversational Chatbots: a Way to Smart Customer Interactions
As we mentioned earlier, AI chatbots provide users with the humanlike experience people expect to get when they think about artificial intelligence.
However, not every chatbot that you can talk to on a website is driven by AI. They may rely on algorithms to determine the meaning of a question, but if you go off the script, then they are left floundering.
A hallmark of conversational AI systems is the capability to understand a customer’s intent, regardless of how the question is phrased. These smart bots can:
- fill out the form;
- provide recommendations;
- make reservations;
- book appointments;
- and even integrate with back-end software like CRM, ERP, RPA to carry out further tasks.
Here is a brilliant example of how the chatbot understands the context.
It doesn’t even need to know the whole utterance: it suggests the user a possible end of a request! What is more, it goes beyond just offering a suggestion. It runs through the source material such as FAQs and knowledge bases and resolves questions.
Image credit: Intercom.com
Why Do Businesses Love Conversational Chatbots?
Surprisingly, most people are quite content knowing they are speaking to a machine. According to the latest survey, 40% of consumers make no difference whether a computer or a human being helps them if they get the help they need. Even more, for some users, it means that they can discuss any technical problem as much as they want without feeling foolish.
Unlike human agents, chatbots are fast, friendly, and are always there whenever a user needs them.
Besides, the latest generation of conversational bots can perceive and understand people’s intents without keyword matching and are able to give accurate answers to the clients’ questions. Using the smart assistants helps the agents significantly boost their productivity and effectiveness by imitating conversations naturally and humanly.
Nowadays, more and more companies worldwide start adopting these intelligent assistants to improve their customer service quality.
For instance, Salesforce has introduced its own AI-driven Einstein bot that can perform a variety of tasks. As such, it is able to resolve routine issues, check claims status, modify orders using natural language processing on real channels, and so on.
Image credit: Salesforce
However, it can be hard for an inexperienced user to handle such a complex CRM as Salesforce. To configure it properly, you may need someone who knows how to use its Service Cloud (onilabdotcom).
The 5 Main Reasons to Implement AI-Powered Chatbots
1. Better Customer Understanding
Chatbots store information about customer preferences and previous searches. In the future, they can use these insights to instantly anticipate a request or make personalized offers. It can improve customer attitude towards the company and increase retention.
2. Non-Stop Customer Support
Chatbots don’t need to sleep and rest. They can offer a solution to the problem at any time of the day and not make mistakes. If the problem is too complex or unique and requires human intervention, the chatbot can respond to the user when they can get a specialist’s answer. Then it will direct this question to the correct department.
3. Saving Money
Since chatbots reduce the time spent on routine tasks, you can reduce the cost of hiring more support staff. The Juniper Research study shows that by 2022 businesses will leverage chatbots to save costs of over $8 billion annually. And probably it’s the right time to embrace this innovation.
4. Overcoming Language Barriers
Chatbots expand the horizons and geography of your customers. Since your employees may not know all languages, chatbots can come to their aid. NLP, by which the chatbots work, allows understanding of different tones and languages. That’s how you will overcome friction in communication instead of risking the loss of a potential customer.
Let’s imagine your business goes through a festive season or peak hours. The entire stream of questions rests on the shoulders of the support team, which can’t cope with the increased demand. Scalability means that during this time, you don’t need to attract additional resources such as live agents and train them.
Chatbots provide multichannel conversation in real-time and can easily cope with even the 200% hike in chats.
AI-Powered Chatbots: What to Expect?
Thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence, customer service has made a big step forward from simple query inputting to advanced perception for providing human-like interactions. With the growing number of companies building deep neural networks and leveraging AI to make their services smarter, we can expect the impact of bots will expand over 2021 and in subsequent years.
AI-powered conversational bots are predicted to be employed in call centers worldwide, where they will provide customer support instead of human agents. This is especially true, considering that they already help businesses reduce costs up to 30% by employing well-trained chatbots.
However, this could instill fears about the possible staff reduction and replacing them with robots. Crises and stock market crashes, shocks, and natural disasters, all this can shatter confidence in the future.
However, chatbots cannot brainstorm new ideas; they cannot think about what challenges a business may face. They expect commands from people and are ready to execute them. So, there is nothing to worry about.
Even though artificial intelligence and related technologies are still far from perfection and have numerous issues to overcome, the prognosis over chatbot development is promising. They are likely to be one of the dominating trends in customer support and beyond.
Top Image Credit: rodnae productions; pexels; thank you!
Retirement Planning Tips for the Self-Employed
For the self-employed, retirement planning can be a bit more complicated than for the rest of the population. They don’t have the benefit of an employer-sponsored plan and an HR department where they’ll find counseling and advice on planning for their retirement years. However, that doesn’t mean the self-employed can’t have a comfortable retirement or that they should work until they drop. With a little bit of planning and creativity, self-employed individuals can save enough for a laid-back retirement full of fun, travel, and well-earned rest. Here are eleven tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Start saving for retirement as much and as early as possible
When we’re young, it’s hard to focus on long-term goals like retirement, and we tend to focus much more on our immediate needs. This includes things like buying a house or a car, taking care of student debt, paying monthly bills, and more. If you’re a passionate entrepreneur running your own business, even things like housing and a car may come second in terms of priorities; you usually focus all of your time and energy on business management and growth, so retirement planning falls way behind.
However, if you want a comfortable retirement, the best time to start saving was yesterday; the next best time is today. At this point, what matters is not how much you save for retirement every month or year (we’ll cover that in a moment). What really matters is to get started.
However, if you want to retire comfortably, you must start saving as much as possible as early as possible. The sooner you start contributing to a retirement account, the more time your money has to grow through compound interest.
Why does this matter?
Most people don’t grasp just how much of an impact starting to save one, two, or three years earlier can have on the size of your nest egg by the time you retire.
Let’s run some simple numbers. Suppose you put $10,000 in a 401(k)when you’re 35. It will grow at a 5-8% interest rate. Taking the lower 5% as interest rate, by the time you reach retirement age, those $10,000 will have grown to $43,219. If you wait one year and deposit the money when you’re 36, after 29 years, your balance will be $41,161 instead. That’s $2,058 less you’ll have at your disposal for waiting just one year. Start saving when you turn 40, and you’ll end up with $33,864. That’s over $9,000 less, even though it’s the same $10,000 you started with.
Now imagine you don’t just save $10,000 in total, but save roughly that amount every year, which is what most people saving for retirement do. If you run the numbers, the difference can be tens of thousands of dollars for waiting a couple of years instead of starting to save right away.
Tip #2: Even if you’re your own boss, pay yourself a salary
Just because you don’t have an employer doesn’t mean you can’t pay yourself a salary. This is especially important if your business is doing well and you’re reinvesting most of the profits back into the company and forget to take some of them out as income. When it comes to retirement planning, you need to know how much you’re making every month so you can budget accordingly and set enough money aside for the future. The best way to ensure this is to pay yourself a salary.
How much should you pay yourself?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. The most important ones are:
- Your current expenses
- How well your business is doing
- The long-term financial goals for your business
- How much money you’ll need to live comfortably once you retire (more on this later).
Tip#3: Choose the right retirement account
When you’re employed by someone else, there’s a good chance your employer will offer you access to a 401(k) retirement account. If they don’t, other options are still available, like an IRA. For the self-employed, the options are a bit more limited, but there are still several retirement accounts you can choose from. The most common four are:
- One-participant 401(k): This is also known as a Solo 401(k), and it’s perfect for self-employed individuals or business owners with no employees. The contribution limit for 2022 is $20,500, but if you’re over 50, you can contribute an additional $6,500 as a catch-up contribution.
- Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account, or SEP-IRA: This account is another tax-deferred retirement account available to small business owners and the self-employed. The contribution limit in 2022 is the lesser of 25% of your net earnings from self-employment or $61,000.
- Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees Individual Retirement Account, or SIMPLE IRA: This retirement account is available to small business owners with 100 or fewer employees. The contribution limit in 2022 is $14,000, but if you’re over 50, you can also contribute an additional $3,000 as a catch-up contribution to reach $17,000.
- Keogh plan: This account is also known as a qualified retirement plan, and it’s available to self-employed individuals or unincorporated businesses.
Each of these retirement accounts comes with its pros and cons, so you must do your research to find the best one for your specific situation. They all share one trait: they’re funded with pre-tax dollars, meaning you’ll be able to defer paying taxes on them until you retire.
However, if you expect to reach a higher income bracket as time passes, choosing a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k) may be wiser. These accounts are funded with after-tax dollars, meaning you won’t get the tax break now but will when you retire and start withdrawing from the account.
After making your decision, though, the most important thing is to start contributing to one of these accounts as soon as possible.
Tip #4: Estimate how much you need to save for a comfortable lifestyle during retirement
When you start saving for retirement, what matters most is that you start early and save as much as possible without disrupting your short-term plans and lifestyle. But, eventually, you’ll want to begin crafting a real retirement plan. That means:
- Setting clear and ambitious yet achievable long-term goals and breaking them into smaller, more manageable ones.
- Drafting a clear strategy that’ll serve as a roadmap to achieve those goals
- Acting on that strategy and sticking to it as closely as possible
- Performing annual controls to see how far you have come, what you’ve accomplished, where you fell short, and what needs to change in the following year to get back on track or reach an even more ambitious goal.
When it comes to setting goals, these need to be specific and measurable. Therefore, you’ll have to define what you expect your retirement to be like so you can estimate how much income you’ll need to pay for that lifestyle without outliving your savings.
This estimate doesn’t have to be perfectly accurate, but rather an assessment that will help you see a ball-park figure of how much you should be saving every month from your income to enjoy the retirement you want.
Tip #5: Invest in a diversified mix of assets
When most people think about retirement, they picture themselves sitting on a beach sipping cocktails or playing golf. But to make that dream a reality, you need to have enough money to cover your living expenses for 20, 30, or even 40 years.
The previous tip was about determining how much your living expenses add up to. However, once you run the numbers, you’ll likely find that your current income isn’t enough to save the amount you need every month. If that’s the case, don’t despair. You can dramatically lower the money you’ll need to set aside every month if you manage to increase the return on your savings, even if only by a little.
This means investing your savings, not just leaving them to grow in a savings account. Regarding investing, stocks and bonds are the two most common asset classes. But there are also other options like real estate, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and even NFTs and crypto trading. The key is to invest in a diversified mix of assets to minimize the risk of losing money while still giving yourself the chance to earn a higher return.
For example, let’s suppose you invest the same $10,000 as before when you’re 35, and you manage to get an average of 6% growth instead of 5%. In that case, instead of $43,219, you’ll have $57,435 when you retire. That’s a difference of over $14,000 for that extra 1% return, without saving a cent more than what you were saving in the first place!
Tip #6: Secure a minimum level of income
No matter how much money you have saved for retirement, it’s crucial to have a plan in place to ensure you’ll have a minimum income level every month. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is to purchase an annuity.
An annuity is a contract between you and an insurance company. In exchange for a lump-sum payment, the insurance company agrees to make regular payments to you for a set period of time or the rest of your life. There are different types of annuities, and you can customize contracts to your heart’s content by adding contract riders.
Annuities are a way to protect your nest egg and to make sure you have a minimum level of income every month, but they’re not without their drawbacks. For one, annuities are complex financial products, and it can be challenging to understand all the different features and benefits. Additionally, annuities come with fees and commissions that can eat into your investment returns, which is something you need to watch out for.
In any case, what matters most is that you set up a safety net you can fall back on in retirement, so you don’t have to worry about running out of money or outliving your savings.
Tip #7: Live a healthy lifestyle
No list of tips about preparing for old age would be complete without this important piece of advice. One of the best ways to reduce your medical expenses in retirement is to live a healthy lifestyle when you’re young. This means eating healthy food, exercising regularly, and getting regular check-ups. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it in the long run.
A healthy lifestyle will help you avoid costly medical bills down the road and help you feel better and enjoy your retirement more. After all, what’s the point of saving for retirement if you can’t enjoy it?
So make sure to take care of yourself now, and you’ll be thankful later.
The bottom line
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer regarding retirement planning, especially if you’re self-employed. However, following these tips should give you a good start. Remember to invest in a mix of assets, secure a minimum income level, and live a healthy lifestyle. And most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to start planning and saving for your golden years.
Published First on Due. Read Here.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by SHVETS production; Pexels; Thank you!
Why is Artificial Intelligence Crucial for Biotechnology?
Biotechnology lies in the middle of biology and technology. Through modern technologies, it uses biological processes, organisms, cells, molecules, and systems to create new products for the benefit of humanity and the planet. In addition, it contains laboratory research and development through bioinformatics to explore and extract from biomass through biochemical engineering to develop high-value products. Biotechnology operates in various fields, such as agriculture, medical, animal, industrial, and others.
White biotechnology, related to creating products demanding chemical processes from biomass, can also be one of the solutions to the energy crisis by producing biofuel. The latter can be used for vehicles or heating.
Each organization working in the biotechnology sphere maintains voluminous sets of data stored in databases. This data must also be filtrated and analyzed to be valid and applicable. Such operations as drug manufacturing, chemical analysis, enzyme studies, and other biological processes should be backed by computerized solid tools for high performance and accuracy, as well as helps to reduce manual errors.
One of the most helpful technologies that help to manage the biological processes, drug production, supply chain, and deal with data within biotech is Artificial Intelligence.
It interacts with data received through scientific literature and clinical data trial. AI also manages incommensurable clinical trial datasets and enables virtual screening and analyze the high volume of data. As a result, it reduces clinical trial costs and results in discoveries and insights for any field in which biotech operates.
More predictable data makes it easier to build work processes and operations, enhances the speed of performance and the accuracy of the procedures, and makes decision-making more efficient. 79% claim that AI technology impacts workflows and becomes crucial to productivity.
All of these results are becoming more cost-effective solutions. The estimated revenue gained with the help of AI grew by $1.2 TN in the last three years.
Advantages of using artificial intelligence in biotechnology.
AI applies in various fields, but the most significant is the use of AI in medical care. Although such technology’s ability as data categorization and making predictive analyses are beneficial for any scientific sphere.
Managing and analyzing data
The scientific data is constantly expanding and has to be arranged in a meaningful way. This process is complicated and time-consuming: scientists must go through repetitive and heavy tasks, which must be performed with great attention.
The data they work with is a big part of the research process, which results in high cost and energy loss in case of failure. Moreover, many kinds of research don’t result in practical solutions, as they fail to be translated into human language. AI programs assist in the automation of data maintenance and analysis. Open source platforms empowered by artificial intelligence help reduce the repetitive, manual, and time-consuming duties lab workers have to perform, enabling them to focus on innovation-driven operations.
Gene modification, chemical compositions, pharmacologic investigations, and other critical informatics tasks are thoroughly examined for shorter and more reliable outcomes.
Effective data maintenance is indeed crucial to every scientific sector. However, the most significant advantage of AI is its ability to organize and systemize data into forms and make predictable outcomes.
Driving innovations in the medical sphere
Over the past ten years, we faced the urgent need for innovations in the manufacturing and deploying pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, food-grade chemicals, and other raw materials connected to biochemistry.
AI in Biotechnology is essential for fostering innovation throughout a drug’s or chemical compound’s lifecycle and in labs.
It assists in finding the right combination of chemicals through computing permutations and combinations of different compounds without manual lab testings. In addition, cloud computing makes the distribution of raw materials used within biotech more efficient.
In 2021 the research lab DeepMind developed the most comprehensive human protein map using AI. Proteins fulfill various tasks in the human organism – from building tissue to conquering diseases. Their molecular structure dictates their purpose, which can have thousands of iterations—knowing how protein folds help to understand its function so that scientists can figure out numerous biological processes, such as how the human body works or create new treatments and medicines.
Such platforms give access to data about discoveries for scientists all over the world.
The AI tools help decode data for uncovering the mechanisms of particular diseases in different regions and help make analytical models accurate for their geography. Before using AI, time-consuming and costly experiments were performed to determine the structure of the proteins. And now, about 180,000 protein structures made by the program are available through the Protein Data Bank for free to be used by scientists.
Machine Learning helps make lines diagnosis more accurate, using actual findings to enhance diagnostic tests. And the more tests are performed, the more precise results are generated.
AI is a great tool to enhance electronic health records with evidence-based medications and clinical decision support systems.
Artificial Intelligence is also frequently employed in genetic manipulation, radiology, customized medicine, medication management, and other fields. For example, according to the current study, AI improved breast cancer screening accuracy and efficiency compared to a standard breast radiologist. As well as another research claims that lung cancer can be spotted faster by neural networks than by trained radiologists. Another AI application is to detect diseases more accurately through X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans through AI-driven software.
Reduces time of research
New illnesses spread quickly across countries due to globalization. We witnessed it with COVID-2019; as a result, biotechnology has to speed up its production of necessary medications and vaccines to stand against such illnesses.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning maintain the process of detecting the proper compounds, assisting in their synthesis in labs, helping to analyze data for effectiveness, and supplying them to the market. The use of AI in biotech reduces the time in operations performance from 5-10 years to 2-3 years.
Boosting harvest production
Biotechnology is critical in genetically engineering plants to generate richer harvests. The role of AI-based technologies is increasing in studying crop characteristics, comparing qualities, and projecting realistic output. The agricultural biotech also uses robotics, a branch of artificial intelligence, for manufacturing, collecting, and other critical tasks.
By combining such data as weather forecasts, farming characteristics, and the accessibility of seeds, compost, and chemicals, AI aids in planning future patterns in material circulation.
AI in Industrial biotechnology
IoT and AI are widely used in producing vehicles, fuels, fibers, and chemicals. AI analyzes the data collected by IoT to transform it into valuable data for improving the production process and product quality by forecasting outcomes.
Computer simulations and AI come up with the expected molecular design. Strains are being produced through robotics and machine learning to test the accuracy of developing the desired molecule.
To sum up
Though this is just the start of using AI in biotech, many improvements can already be offered to various spheres. Moreover, the growing development of the software empowered by Artificial Intelligence in biotech demonstrates that it can be used for multiple processes, operations, and tactics to obtain a competitive advantage.
It can not only drive innovations but also be a valuable tool to reduce costs by making more accurate tests and predicting results without the actual performance of the experiments in the lab.
As well as find the future necessities of humanity in healthcare and agriculture, forecast potential losses, and make prognoses for companies where they should target their resources for more effective production and supply.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!
A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding and Building a PaaS Marketing Strategy
It feels like yesterday when the first public PaaS (platform as a Service) named Zimki was launched at EuroOSCON in March 2006. Fontango launched the beta version after finishing its development in 2005. However, when PaaS was introduced to the masses — not many people understood its importance very well. Therein, defining a proper PaaS marketing strategy seemed unnecessary.
Even though the core marketing for every product will always remain the same — we sell, and market products, and clients buy them as they need them. The problem now is that while the initial intent of the service was to simplify code writing – its usage and benefits have grown by manifolds.
According to Financial News media, “the PaaS market size is expected to grow to $164.3 Billion by 2026.” This suggests that many more companies are looking into private & hybrid PaaS options to make the most of the cloud computing market. In addition, Statista’s report on worldwide PaaS shows that the market revenue will surpass $100 Billion in the US alone this year. Moreover, the global PaaS market will break records and exceed $400 Billion in 2022.
While these are all hypotheses until we see these numbers, the chances of these expert insights coming true are more than us expecting rain just because our nose tingled a bit when we woke up this morning. Thus, marketers must start by understanding PaaS basics and the key characteristics that will help them create a good PaaS marketing strategy.
Understanding PaaS — a brief guide for marketers
What is PaaS
The simplest way to define and describe PaaS is by first understanding that it is a form of cloud computing. Its progression has changed how business applications are built and run. With the help of PaaS, now a new application can be delivered within a web browser in lesser time. The developers can use a point-and-click interface or deploy it through a custom code.
How to use PaaS
PaaS allows businesses to:
- manage custom cloud application
Without introducing any complexities they faced before, building and maintaining the company’s servers and infrastructures. In short, it can be said that PaaS offers a time & cost-efficient solution to the business.
Differences between PaaS, SaaS, and IaaS
Cloud computing birthed more than just PaaS – it also gave us its siblings, IaaS and SaaS. While most companies like Netflix use SaaS, all 3 of these offer custom cloud computing solutions depending on the type a company requires.
IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) allows organizations to manage their business resources on the cloud. These resources include their network, servers, and data storage. IaaS is a flexible category and offers a ‘pay-as-you-go’ option to add custom features.
PaaS helps businesses and developers host, build, and deploy agile & customer-facing applications by offering them a custom framework. PaaS management is somewhere between IaaS and SaaS in a way that lets you build upon the framework and manages most of the items for you.
SaaS (software as a service) needs the least amount of management from you and is the most commonly used cloud service. These products offer cloud-based tools and applications to both consumers and businesses.
“Companies in the industry are increasingly preferring hybrid cloud solutions to increase efficiency, innovation, and reduce costs. A hybrid cloud refers to a cloud infrastructure environment that is a mixture of private cloud, on-premises computing and public cloud solutions. Platform as a service providing companies in the industry are leveraging this technology to enhance their agility, capability, increase development & deployment speed, and reduce IT costs.”
– Quote from Research and Markets Report
Is salesforce SaaS or PaaS or IaaS?
Although many people argue that salesforce is either SaaS or a hybrid example of both SaaS and PaaS combined, the company says that Salesforce is a PaaS. The Salesforce platform is the world’s number 1 PaaS solution. Moreover, the SalesForce Lightning extension is considered the next-gen PaaS solution.
Examples of PaaS
Some other examples of PaaS include:
- SAP Cloud
- Microsoft Azure
- Apprenda Cloud Platform
- Google App Engine (from Gmail to Google Earth, everything is PaaS)
- AWS Lambda
- Pivotal Cloud Foundry
- IBM Cloud Foundry
- Oracle Cloud Platform
- Red Hat OpenShift
- Zoho Creator
Building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
Let’s look at the steps necessary to consider when building a PaaS marketing strategy. Ironically, these steps will work for all kinds of cloud marketing strategies – be it IaaS marketing, SaaS marketing, or XaaS marketing.
Step 1 – Understanding the Product from a Marketer’s Perspective
When you are working on building a PaaS marketing strategy, it is essential first to understand the basics of PaaS (as I have explained above) and the features your product offers. No matter how technological your product is – if your team has no idea about it, they can’t help others think of it as a solution to anything as well.
Step 2 – Creating Custom Target Market Segments
Most tech companies target other businesses, but that is not all you need to know. For example, a company’s CEO or founder might not have enough time to read your inmails, emails, or your company page despite following it. The best target audience would be people who can quickly understand the importance of your product. Therefore, your target audience should always include a primary focus on the IT or Tech department heads, depending on the marketed product type.
Step 3 – Competitor Research
Your product needs to stay ahead for better revenue and sales generation. Doing thorough competitor research can help you discover the growth points they might be missing and offer you a case study of what worked for them and what didn’t. However, knowing what works for them doesn’t mean you just steal their ideas. If you do so – you might get a little attention from the target audience, but you will still be behind your competitor. Instead, discover the market gaps & target demographics and then work on a strategy to fill them in instead. Use their already workable strategy as garnishing to yours rather than making it a holy grail.
Step 4 – Prioritizing Marketing Types & Platforms
This is by far the most crucial point regarding your marketing strategy. While we all know digital marketing is the new gen marketing, no one marketer is a jack of all marketing types. So for step 4, you need to think about the marketing types that will help you with;
- Brand Visibility
- Brand Authority
- Lead Generation
- Revenue Generation
Before I tell the marketing types that I include in the strategies I build – it is essential to understand that they vary from business to business. If a company is just launching itself, it might not be able to do everything and anything. Therefore, always prioritize when building a strategy.
First, you need to pin down the growth points and then expand your strategy from there. Set reality-based KPIs and expectations for the team to ensure there’s no burnout or blame game, and take it six months at a time. My go-to PaaS marketing strategy always includes:
- Organic Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Voice Marketing (relatively new technique)
- Search Engine Marketing
- Product Marketing
- User-Generated Marketing.
- Acquisition & Retention Marketing
- Referral Marketing
- Brand Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Conversational & Word-of-Mouth Marketing
- Video Marketing
- Neuro-Marketing with a dash of Emotional Marketing
- Social Media Marketing (just because your product needs b2b marketing doesn’t mean Linkedin is the only social media solution)
You can also throw in influencer marketing to the mix – if your budget allows it. For me, the first influencers are always the clients themselves.
Key Points to keep in mind when building a Proper PaaS Marketing Strategy
1. Customer Experience
I once worked with a tech company that offered eLearning solutions to businesses. Yet, everyone in the leadership didn’t know how to log in to WordPress, download surveys from SurveyMonkey, etc. This helped the team understand the importance of customer experience, so they always worked extra hard to ensure their customers never faced an issue when using their services.
Likewise, designing an application or website is essential to keep the customer experience in mind. The idea is to make things easy for them. Don’t overcomplicate things by keeping the blogs tab just in the footer or hidden in a scroll-down tab. The easier and more functional your service is for the customers, the more word-of-mouth marketing you get.
From color psychology to the font type – you need to have a look at it all.
2. User Onboarding
When it comes to PaaS, first expressions are the last ones, and people mostly do judge a book by its cover. However, client experience is an integral part of any product marketing team when selling something technical because not all clients are equipped with the knowledge to understand technical jargon and processes. Therefore, user onboarding comes in handy and helps showcase your product’s total value.
A user onboarding benefits in not just customer acquisition or activation, but aims to build a retention level with upward growth in a way that also increases revenue. Moreover, if the user onboarding is done correctly, it can also lead a company to acquire new customers due to the word-of-mouth marketing done by the existing happy client.
With existing customers marketing for you by referring their peers and colleagues – your customer acquisition costs can reduce significantly, creating a snowball effect for the business growth. To conclude, user onboarding can help you win your customers over in the first few minutes and make them stay loyal to you for not just weeks but years!
3. Trial Periods
One of the best ways to convert a potential customer is by offering them a trial period of the product. This lets them test it just like they want to and gives them an illusion of getting something for free. Take Netflix, for example, they started with a 30-day free trial for their potential subscribers. Now when they have gained enough attention – they finish the trial periods.
You can drive a similar strategy as well.
4. Highlight Benefits rather than Features
Someone who’s not as technologically advanced as the developers of your product might not care about all the features it offers. Instead, they want to know why your product is best for them. Therefore, keeping the communication lines between you and your customer as clear and concise as possible is essential. Focus on how your product will add value to their costs, employees, and time.
This is where your competitor research will come in handy; if you know your customers’ pain points, you can offer them the solutions they want. However, in trying to do so, ensure you don’t overwhelm the prospects by giving them too much information.
An example is when an Eco-friendly alternative company offers solutions like bamboo straws or brushes. They don’t go into how sleek their product was because of some specific processing or ingredient – their main selling line is that this thing here you see will help the environment and decay faster in comparison to plastic. From their blogs to social media posts and podcasts, they focus on what their products offer in value rather than something else, and it works.
Another example of this is SalesForce – when talking about PaaS and why they are the number 1 solution for companies – they only talk about the benefits and pain points. They don’t go into details about the features. However, they created an infographic and added all the features to it rather than going into detail.
5. Set the Right Expectations
Never lie to the leadership that you can generate so and so revenue and little time. Long-term growth can NOT be achieved with black hat methods and techniques. A company’s growth takes time – no one will wake up, see your product, and think they should click buy because they saw an advert or because you sent them an email. Tofu, Mofu & Bofu exist for a reason in the sales funnel.
Similarly, don’t lie when marketing your product. There’s no point saying a train can fly to sell it only to end up with negative reviews on the internet. Today’s generation is savvy and knows when they are being marketed to. Hence, it is essential to be transparent about your product’s functionality rather than selling its subscription like a unicorn. You might get one-time payments, but they can be canceled too.
Bad reviews mean a reduction in customer acquisition and retention rates – directly impacting your sales and revenue.
Developing a marketing strategy will always focus on similar platforms and techniques — no matter which product or company. The only thing that adds-on to the value of a strategy is its execution per planning. Many tech companies have started to prefer hiring marketing and content teams with backgrounds in tech or software engineering because they feel it is easier than having employee integration or product training. But by doing so, they are missing out on the most important thing — a layman’s viewpoint. If everyone in the company understands the product without trying it — they can never market it to a non-technical person.
With a proper understanding and a good marketing strategy for SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, or XaaS, as discussed in this content piece, you can reach the right target audience and demographics per your requirements.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Thank you!