The Other Platform: AWS SaaS Ambitions Should be Taken Seriously

The race between Amazon, Microsoft and Google to dominate the cloud space have been the subject of many headlines in the mainstream press. In parallel, the software giants are embarked on another race that keeps flying under the radar and is centered around the dominance of the employee productivity space. While Microsoft and Google have an undisputed lead in the market with their Office 365 and G-Suite platforms respectively, Amazon’s recent moves should be taken as an important sign of its ambitions in the space.

The Biggest Threat to AWS’ Dominance

Despite Microsoft’s Azure impressive growth and Google Cloud’s aggressive push into artificial intelligence(AI), AWS has managed to maintain a significant lead in the cloud market. From my perspective, there are two main factors that can threaten AWS’ cloud market dominance. A first and somewhat obvious oine is to not fall behind its competitors in emerging technology areas such as AI or quantum computing. The other, and more subtle, challenge is to not achieve relevance in the employee productivity space.

The reasoning behind my statement is very simple: employee productivity SaaS offerings such as Office365 and G-Suite are indirect drivers for the adoption of cloud platforms like Azure or Google Cloud respectively. Those revenue numbers are not small by any measure amounting to billions per year in the case of Microsoft. Additionally, employee productivity SaaS stacks provide an entry point at the departmental or line-of-business level which has resulted traditionally challenging for the cloud platform incumbents.

What is AWS Doing About it?

Recognizing the importance of the employee productivity SaaS space, AWS has been aggressively building up a suite that can be competitive with Office365 and G-Suite. AWS’ fast growing SaaS portfolio includes the following components:

1)WorkMail: A service that provides email and calendar capabilities at a global scale.

2)WorkDocs: A collaboration suite focused on office like documents.

3)WorkSpaces: A service that enables desktop virtualization via the cloud.

4)Chime: A chat a video conferencing service.

5)QuickSight: A self-service business intelligence and analytics took.

6)SSO: The newest addition to the stack, AWS SSO enables single-sign-on capabilities across different SaaS applications and cloud services.

As you can see, AWS’s SaaS suite is starting to look like a relevant option for organizations looking to enable employees productivity capabilities via the cloud. Not surprisingly, all AWS’ SaaS products provide deep integration with other AWS cloud services which enables the implementation of highly sophisticated employee productivity solutions. Maybe the most impressive factor of all is the fact that AWS has been able to assemble those capabilities in less than two years.

What’s Next for AWS SaaS?

I believe M&A is going to be a key factor in AWS’s path to disrupt Microsoft’s and Google’s leadership position in the employee productivity SaaS space. the acquisition of productivity startups with established customer bases such as Slack or Dropbox or even not-so-well-known startups like SmartSheets that provide complementary capabilities could help AWS to bridge the gap with the market leaders. Now, if we are thinking to go all in, a company like Atlassian can immediately propel AWS to a leadership position in the productivity SaaS market.

CEO of IntoTheBlock, Chief Scientist at Invector Labs, I write The Sequence Newsletter, Guest lecturer at Columbia University, Angel Investor, Author, Speaker.

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