Using the "Deep Web" To Find SaaS Industry Statistics

By samooresamoore (1251644907|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Introduction

The "Deep Web" is the enormous amount of information that is hidden from normal search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Live, and AltaVista. Essentially, the information within the Deep Web are articles and research reports that exist within databases or password-protected websites. As a result, this high-quality information requires more effort to locate; yet, there are a few tools that can be used to dive into the Deep Web.

There are essentially two different ways to find information in the Deep Web: use a web tool that indexes information from databases or go straight to the primary source of articles. I will be comparing the information I find using Google Scholar, Turbo10, and BNet (three web tools) versus what I find using Gartner and Forrester - two IT research firms with subscription based access. The topic for this test is SaaS Growth / SaaS Adoption Rates.

SaaS Adoption Rates

As one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it would make sense to be interested in just how fast (or how much of) the world is adopting SaaS either as a vendor or a consumer.

Google Scholar

Query - (intitle:"software as a service" growth) or (intitle:"software as a service" adoption)

Google Scholar didn't turn out so well and I am hoping this isn't the case for my next two searches. The first ten results did not yield anything. Zilch. I found some really good information on How SaaS is Delivered, The User Experience of SaaS Apps, and Pricing Models for SaaS. But nothing on what I was looking for.

Score: 0/10

Turbo10

Queries - SaaS Adoption, SaaS Growth

First, it was very ironic that the first result I found was actually a Gartner report on SaaS posted for public view on SalesForce.com. The information was pretty helpful, so Turbo10 does get some credit for that. Some key findings from this report:

  • SaaS growth expected to be 22.1% per year through 2011
  • Adoption currently varies from 1% to 75% depending on the segment (!)
  • Projected revenue for content, communications, and collaboration software is $2.1B in 2011, higher than CRM and ERP (surprising)
  • Report provides an extremely valuable list of major players in each major category and sub-categories of SaaS

Unfortunately, this was the only relevant result from Turbo10 (for both queries), but it was also the first result for both. Nevertheless, because of how informative the article is, Turbo10 gets a pretty good score.

Score: 6/10

BNet

BNet is a search engine that browses a library of business related journals and sites. It provides search results with both free and premium content.

Queries - software as a service growth, software as a service adoption, saas growth

I had really high hopes for BNet because my first few queries with the service produced some pretty interesting results. Unfortunately, the results fell short of my expectations. Both the first, second, and third queries yielded nothing on SaaS. Why?!

In reality, these results must be taken with a grain of salt. The information I was searching for really does not cater to what BNet provides. BNet focuses a lot more on strategy, management, and other "business operations" information. I spent some time looking through BNet's site (particular the Technology section of the Industry's area). Found some great information - for example, I found this article on Sequoia's overview of the current Venture Capital industry and how to move past the current economic issues. Earlier today I was forwarded the exact PowerPoint Sequoia developed yesterday that led to this article. This is certainly a testament to BNet's quick reaction time to new data.

My point: When using an online tool, make sure in advance it is meant to give you the information you're looking for before judging its results. Thus, BNet will not be scored because I made a poor decision to expect good results from it.

Forrester

On to the first of two research services. I had never used Forrester (or Gartner) before, but do have experience with IDC so I am aware of the quality of information to expect. Also, I am very aware that both the research services know alot about SaaS; thus, my expectations were again fairly high. In Forrester, they were met and exceeded big time.

Query - "software as a service", "saas", "growth" OR "adoption"

Forrester lets you combine different keywords so my results incorporated any research that related to software-as-a-service or SaaS and had either growth or adoption as a keyword. The only report I found relevant was seventh down the list, which was a little concerning, but the content made up for this. The report was title SaaS Success Takes Careful Consideration, published on a few weeks ago. The key points were:

*HR apps, collaboration, and CRM are the most popular choices for SaaS
*Large enterprises are showing as healthy of an appetite for SaaS as SMBs
*Customers are embracing multiple SaaS solutions
*IT is increasingly at the forefront of SaaS deals

There are three interesting charts I want to share. These charts do a good job of presenting a general idea on SaaS's prenetration in the software industry (However, please look at the report if you can to learn more about what these charts really tell us). :

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I really liked Forrester's user interface, browsing options, and of course, its data. However, I would have liked to see this report in at least the top 3 considering its relevance and would have liked to see more of the top 5 related to my topic - especially since I was searching based on keywords.

Score: 9/10

Gartner

The first thing that caught my attention with Gartner is that there is actually a Software-as-a-Service sub-category deep within their Technology/Software research! That was awesome. I was able to search within this category and just looked for "market growth". The first result that came up was the report I mentioned earlier from Gartner and the second result was a Overview of SaaS that provided a absolute ton of information on SaaS background, current information, and future. The report links to a wealth of other Gartner articles that are relevant to SaaS (and very interesting). Unfortunately, the links are only available on the online version of the report from Gartner's website(title: "Essential SaaS Overview and Guide to SaaS Research").

As a search and information tool, Gartner is only so-so. The interface is a little finicky and the browsing experience is pretty tame. Yet, in regards to this particular test, Gartner dominated. It provided relevant, consistent information that was readily accessible and displayed appropriately. Thus:

Score: 10/10

Comments

One of the most interesting things I learned from this test (besides the truth of how much more effective it is to go to a primary source) is that I can create RSS Feeds from Gartner and Foresster to use for my research. Unfortunately, whoever wants to reed the information from these feeds must have access to these two sites. Other general comments:

  • Google should be ashamed of Google Scholar and stop using "Beta" products as an excuse for any deficiencies
  • Turbo10 needs to revamp their presentation and how results are displayed. It can be confusing or unclear as to what the result is about.
  • BNet is a great tool - if you're searching for information on how to run your business and business-related news
  • Forrester has a good user interface and extremely valuable, detailed information
  • Gartner has great information, especially for my topic, but could have a better user interface and browsing experience.

In conclusion, it is clear that finding research data from a primary source potentially is more successful than using a free "Deep Web" tool.

- Forrester and Gartner will definitely become (or already is) valuable resources for previous and new information on the SaaS industry.
- I will use BNet in the future for personal uses, but in relation to SaaS research, it is probably best to stay away.
- Turbo10 was successful, but I was not that impressed so most likely I will not use it again.
- Google Scholar - never…ever again.

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