A Good Guide to SaaS

Software as a service (SaaS) is by no means a new concept it's simply a digital service or subscription which you pay for over a specified time, just like Netflix, Google Docs or Dropbox.

Software as a service (SaaS) is by no means a new concept. However, it is often misperceived as a ‘techy’ concept for which a qualification is needed to be able to understand it or as tech jargon just like ‘IoT’ or ‘The Internet of Things’.

SaaS is simply a digital service or subscription which you pay for over a specified time. And many of us use SaaS daily without even realizing it. From streaming our favorite movies and TV series via Netflix to working more effectively through Google Docs or sharing files through Dropbox.

At the end of 2019 a little over 167 million people worldwide had a Netflix account and throughout 2020 Zoom (the cloud platform for video, voice and content sharing) saw 12.92 million monthly active users, highlighting how many of us are already integrating and adopting SaaS into our daily lives, perhaps without us even realizing it.

Of course, SaaS differs in the service provided, but we all use it in one form or another. Our ABB AbilityTM platform, a suite of digital solutions that use a cloud-based platform to offer a broad range of data-driven insights, for example provides instant, real-time information on energy and asset management bringing the benefits of SaaS in the spaces we live, work and relax to the fore.


The Demand for SaaS

The global SaaS market is set to grow by $60.36 billion by 2023, with the increase in smartphone use, as well as demand for mobile apps in e-commerce, for payments, food delivery, healthcare, and other purposes.

Recently there has been a surge in adoption of SaaS at enterprise level. A report by Super Office, a leading European B2B CRM solution provider, indicated a growth of around 30% of companies using SaaS in the past 3 years, with that set to rise further in the coming year, with 73% of organizations running almost solely on SaaS.

This is further supported by Finances Online, who indicate that 89% of global businesses in 2018 were using SaaS, with 51% of companies running purely on SaaS, predicting that by 2023 86% of companies will be running on SaaS alone.


Debunking the myths around SaaS

Despite the increasing prevalence of SaaS there are still several misconceptions surrounding it. Too often these misunderstandings are held by those who would be most influential in its uptake and who would get the greatest benefit from its use.

For example, at an enterprise level, SaaS is perceived as being less reliable than on-premise applications and whilst that may have been true to an extent before the advent of 5G, with high speed internet being commonplace and the emergence of 5G networks, this really is negligible for the most part. This would only affect the most critical applications, where it is essential to have real-time control.

Another myth is that SaaS is less secure than on-premise applications. This is (or should be) top of every subscribers list to ensure their data is secure. Security is a fundamental element in the development of any software development. As uptake of SaaS increases, the standards and protocols for security are evolving even quicker, ensuring best practices are adhered to, and keeping your data safe.

A third misconception is that SaaS offers a ‘light’ version of the on-premise counterparts, that cannot be customized and may be seen as inflexible and rigid. This however is not the case and SaaS can be split into two categories. The first is ‘Horizontal SaaS’ which is generic and aimed at capturing as many clients and fields as possible within one platform, such as Netflix.  This is the same SaaS platform for all, with only one customizable area ‘My List’ whereby you can shortlist content you wish to view at a later date.

Then there is ‘Vertical SaaS’. This is often built up from Horizontal SaaS but is a fully scalable and customizable format that can be tailored to users’ specific requirements. ABB Ability is an example of this, as it is built from one main SaaS platform, but then is customizable per user to meet their demands, providing the data from across their bespoke network of assets in a way which best suits their uses.


ABB AbilityTM 

ABB Ability offers much the same as other SaaS providers such as Netflix or Zoom by delivering on demand services that can be accessed anywhere, at any time via mobile devices. The difference with ABB Ability is that it focusses on energy and asset management for productivity, control and cost effectiveness insights, rather than simply providing audio/ visual entertainment services.

ABB Ability provides detailed insights and control through an intuitive, visually appealing User Interface (UI) to optimize energy usage and comfort across a network of installed equipment.

Whether you are: a home owner looking to increase comfort and security for your family; or an electric vehicle owner that needs fast, reliable charging option’s; a manufacturing facility manager who needs to enhance operational efficiency; or even a city councilor aiming to bring your city’s emission to net zero, ABB has several solutions that can achieve all of these needs and more through ABB Ability.


To ensure optimal security, ABB Ability utilizes a non-invasive, multi-layered approach. This separates customer identity data from customer measurement data with a state-of-the-art cybersecurity protocol featuring constant security upgrades without compromising safety, value, or control to deliver optimal safety for homeowners or facility managers.

ABB Ability is also inter-operable, meaning it can interface with a non-ABB product, as well as communicate with ‘non-digital products’ thanks to ABB’s development of compatibility products. For example ABB-free@home® enables non-digital household assets such as lights, blinds and heating systems to become ‘smart’. A suite of retro-fit devices connect into the MyBuildings portal for remote control anywhere via mobile device, even connecting to Sonos, Echo, Google Home, Home Connect or Miele appliances.

For more industrial applications, Ekip-Up converts traditional, non-digital circuit breakers into digitally enabled devices allowing existing circuit breakers to be upgraded and become a smart device with a simple ‘plug-and-play’ add-on.


ABB Ability offers a suite of over 120 different applications that all run through the same API (Application Programming Interface), allowing a user to upscale the scope of what they can control and monitor. Each program can be modified to suit the level of control and monitoring required, providing a fully scalable, customizable application that covers a wide scope of applications.


To see how ABB’s portfolio of products and real-world applications are truly transforming safety, security and efficiency through our SaaS offerings visit our ABB Ability webpage.



An added benefit is that until the end of 2020 ABB Electrification will waive the fee for all new subscriptions for its iUPSGuard software for hospitals and its ABB AbilityTM Asset Health for electrical systems software. It will also waive all new or renewed subscriptions for its ABB Ability™ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) capabilities. If you wish to take advantage of the free of charge software solutions for the next year, then contact your local sales team: https://new.abb.com/contact-centers








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About the author

Peter Smith

As Marketing and Communications Specialist for ABB's Electrification Business Area I support the development of strategies to increase ABB's share of voice. Engaging audiences through customer orientated value propositions and translating technical content into relatable, informative and accurate messages tailored to different audiences. I live with my family in Nottingham, at the heart of England, and currently studying my Executive MBA at Nottingham Trent University.
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