Research as a Service (RaaS) – Applications and Use Cases for Startups and Midsized ISVs (SMBs)

I had initially thought of writing this article in series, after my earlier one on fundamentals of RaaS and how Nitor Infotech pioneered this concept. But I held on to gather initial reactions and inputs from our customers. I believe that this was the right thing to do because I did get good inputs to articulate my thoughts for this second article in the series.

Research as a Service (RaaS) is an innovation-driven manifestation of current industry trends of ‘Everything-as-a-Service.’ This business model focuses on a scalable, pay-per-use philosophy intended to optimize investment costs. This article focusses on Nitor’s approach of RaaS for small and mid-sized product companies.

Let’s dive right in by understanding the following graph. The condition for this is that the idea has been conceptualized, and the customer is taking the next steps.

Attention Span of a Founder/Investor of a Startup or Mid-Sized ISV

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When we compare the attention span on the various activities involved in growing a business, we notice that securing funds, generating & sustaining initial customers, and valuations consume most of the time. In this process, very little time is spent on innovation and its validation. The reason for this is that innovation is not just the curation of new ideas/concepts, but a thorough evaluation and analysis of all past learnings and experiments. This is the sweet spot for Nitor’s RaaS. Nitor Infotech helps SMBs focus on market and customer-facing activities and take care of the valuable backend. Remember, we are talking of a very high and intensive collaboration, not just developmental and support activities. Some of the RaaS deliverables have been as below:

  • Helped an ISV to conclude on a custom reporting product after researching modern and established reporting products. That helped the ISV secure $3 million in additional funds.
  • Assisted a customer in narrowing down on a blockchain platform for healthcare with curated research activity.
  • Discovered new techniques and solutions to improve operational SLAs by using an RPA platform.
  • Researched a business and technology approach to build an idea management SaaS product using an email/calendar communication service for a valley-based customer.

What sets apart a startup or small/mid-sized ISV against its competitors is its modern engineering and risk-taking capabilities or experimentation mindset. It is critical for business to ramp up digital experiments by applying the ‘fail fast’ approach. Application of RaaS will help these ISVs to rapidly inspect the risk or experiment, and adopt the right digital experiment.

Small and Mid-sized ISVs have a unique advantage when it comes to RaaS. These organizations are at an inflection point in growth. They struggle with a multiplicity of objectives, stretched IT budgets, and the need to gain more flexibility and scalability. SMBs can derive RaaS value much quicker by keeping pace with this new industry trend as legacy systems, and multiple layers of management do not burden them.

It is prudent to view RaaS through the lens of the framework depicted below. Generally speaking, SMBs would find themselves in quadrants “Known-Unknown and Unknown-Unknown” of the below Cartesian plane:

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As discussed above, the small and mid-sized ISV category has an uncertain or tenuous footing in the market. Hence, they would be more inclined towards exploration, experimentation, and analysis. This doesn’t mean that large organizations do not probe deeper or scrutinize business problems. The important point to note is that SMBs would have a greater need to do the above when they are establishing their position in the market.

In the SMB category, the most popular use case is to apply RaaS to expedite go-to-market time. Thus, the natural inclination is to focus on the Known Unknown quadrant, i.e., ideas, tools, and concepts that help in expediting their offerings. The approach to this is design experimentation; it is important to research different approaches and processes that would help in arriving at a solution that expedites go-to-market time. It is especially necessary for startups as they are in the early stages of consolidating their position in the market.

Another reason for startups to go for RaaS is that firms with limited resources can leverage the Research-as-a-Service model, and minimize CapEx costs, reduce time spent on procurement activity, scale as required, and develop a governance framework that supports research-based engagement.

In the past, we helped an ISV that builds an IOT product for large process manufacturing organizations to select and implement Microsoft Azure IOT and Azure ML framework. It helped them cut down the market release plan by six months.

SMBs can also use RaaS to build MVPs and POCs for future needs (Unknown Unknown), and expand their service offerings (Unknown Unknown). It involves the exploration of completely new opportunities in the market through techniques such as data exploration. We conduct focused workshops and business leaders’ discussions to arrive at the various disruptive solutions, particularly for startups. This is gaining momentum because it is creating a differentiator concerning the competition.

Examples:

  • Provided a RaaS service to a mid-sized ISV to extract information from non-dimensional drawings and translate near to 80% accurate Results
  • Helped an ISV to conceptualize a Big Data product for very large content data sets

My next blog will be focused on how RaaS is applied to Large ISVs and how they are able to leverage RaaS to nurture the culture of innovation.

About Sanjeev Fadnavis

Sanjeev as a President at Nitor has more than 23 years of deep domain expertise in enterprise software. His domain knowledge coupled with management expertise and a deep understanding of market dynamics enables Nitor to grow organically and expand in overseas markets.

  • AI/ML
  • Big Data

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