In the overcrowded business world, differentiation is key to finding a niche and appealing to picky consumers. But that's easier said than done, right?

We didn't want to find our business lost in a crowd of health tools and technology vendors. I knew that to scale effectively and win our channel, we had to be seen as more than a technology vendor. It was time to rebrand our employee benefits system into a health-as-a-service platform.

My company was not the first to transition to the as-a-service model. In fact, more companies are finding that this business model offers a number of significant opportunities for development and growth.

Building an as-a-service platform allows companies to simplify their delivery model, scale quickly, and streamline their experience for the end consumer. Most of these platforms are cloud-based portals that allow for customization, empowering consumers with an experience tailored to their preferences.

Aside from customization, as-a-service platforms also benefit consumers by driving down prices, increasing the quality of available services due to increased competition, and saving time by streamlining the shopping experience.

Numerous industries have already been transformed by the as-a-service business model, including:

  1. Health. Companies like MedDiary, HealthSaaS, and CentraMed offer integrated platforms that enable healthcare providers to create and customize mobile health apps for patients. These apps can guide patients through intensive or complicated medical processes or allow physicians to monitor patients remotely.
  2. Entertainment. Netflix and Amazon are the current giants in the entertainment-as-a-service industry. They've forever changed how people watch TV by providing on-demand streaming and producing their own content.
  3. Food/Dining. Dining out has been transformed by businesses like OpenTable and Yelp, which have made discovering new restaurants and booking reservations easier than ever. On the flipside, companies like Plated, HelloFresh, and Blue Apron have brought healthy, gourmet-style meals into the home through a convenient delivery model.
  4. Travel. Companies like Airbnb and HotelTonight have democratized the travel-as-a-service industry. They've allowed customers to negotiate prices and made it easier for hotels (and even homeowners) to reach potential guests.
  5. Self-protection. HP recently released the first cloud-managed self-protection service. HP Application Defender allows any organization to detect and prevent real-time cyber attacks without significant investment in security resources.

The Future of the As-a-Service Model

As more industries adopt the as-a-service model in the coming years, we're going to see:

  1. Everything-as-a-service companies offer an extensive variety of services and applications for users to access on demand rather than through on-premises means.
  1. Businesses using technology and data expansion to create more powerful decision-making engines for simplified, powerful as-a-service offerings.
  1. Data-as-a-service companies allowing businesses to leverage big data experts without hiring them full time. With this subscription-based business model, companies of any size will be able to pay per service, query, or transaction.

The as-a-service business model has been transforming companies for several years now. With consumers growing accustomed to increased customization and lower prices, this trend is only going to expand to other industries.

If you're struggling to differentiate your business in a crowded marketplace, consider embracing the as-a-service future. Your customers will thank you.

Published on: Oct 27, 2014