Located: Novato, California
Market: On-demand Workforce Communications
Key Customers: Fox Entertainment, Nissan, Hershey, State of Montana, Yahoo!
I asked Walter Smith, Enwisen’s Chief Executive Officer a few questions about his business and his view of the SaaS market in 2009.
Did you start out as a Software-as-a-Service company?
Yes, when we started Enwisen in 1999 our vision was to leverage the power of the Internet to deploy robust, highly configured technology for HR using a Software-as-a-Service business model. At the time the term “SaaS” wasn’t commonly used to describe our model… ASP or Application Service Provider… was the more commonly used term for a hosted application. But truly our model from the beginning was to combine software and services in a multi-tenant environment. A key advantage we have had in the marketplace is delivering a suite of products that have all been built internally as a SaaS solution without the challenge of converting from an enterprise foundation or integrating acquired solutions.
Why do your customers buy from Enwisen?
Fundamentally it boils down to compelling economic value and great service. Our technology solves a critical issue for HR – how to deliver quality service to their internal customer (employees) at a lower cost per employee. In today’s economy HR is being challenged to be far more efficient, but without compromising quality. It’s a real conundrum – high touch HR delivery and internal systems are just too expensive and ineffective. Not only do we streamline HR operations, but we improve the service experience for employees. Our solutions are very reasonably priced for the robust capabilities and bottom-line impact we deliver. Customers have to provide services to employees, it’s mission critical, we just give them a better and more cost effective way to do it. Combine that with great, highly attentive service and that’s why customers buy from Enwisen. The validation is there… despite the down economy we grew profitably at 62% during our last quarter and over the last 10 years our retention rate has exceeded 98%.
What do you see as the key trend emerging in the SaaS industry?
Collaboration and integration of various enterprise applications through the “Cloud.” Almost every company today has multiple systems and multiple service providers. Here’s an example – one system for the Intranet, one for HR, outsourced payroll, outsourced benefits, performance and succession planning, learning (LMS), and dozens of benefits providers for health and retirement. Users are simply overwhelmed by the complexity of getting to all of these different sites – how many user IDs and passwords can you remember? If a system cannot be easily accessed, it won’t be used. Companies spend millions of dollars on systems, yet most acknowledge they are underutilized. Also, many companies lock their applications behind the firewall, making it harder if not impossible for many employees to use. One of the biggest trends is to leverage the “Cloud” in a way to seamlessly integrate data and applications to make it easier for user to access everything through a single location.
What is your outlook for 2009?
Now that the fear of financial Armageddon has subsided we see companies getting back to Business 101 as usual. Companies have to continue to innovate, deliver service, retain talent, and drive greater efficiencies to the bottom line. Budgets will remain tight, but companies will continue to invest in ways that make them more efficient in the near term but also prepare them to grow and be more competitive in the long term. We anticipate our current growth rate to continue since part of our success is because of, versus in spite of, the down economy. Companies no longer will buy status quo products due to brand. They will continue to seek best of breed solutions that will give superior performance at a much lower cost even if they are a new vendor to them.
Thank you to Walter Smith for contributing to this profile.