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As we enter the fourth industrial revolution — Industry 4.0 — new technologies are emerging that are upending traditional business models. One of the most exciting and disruptive new trends is the rise of “as-a-service” models. Instead of buying a product outright and having to maintain it and pay for upgrades or support, both businesses and consumers are embracing the idea of subscribing to virtually anything for a monthly fee.
This shift is being driven by the need for flexibility and agility in an ever-changing marketplace. Using as-a-service models allow companies to stay ahead of the curve without making long-term commitments or investing in costly infrastructure.
Put simply, as-a-service models are like Legos for businesses. You can mix and match services to build the perfect solution for your needs, and then change services or add new ones as your business evolves. In an era of red-hot inflation, tightening IT budgets and critical labor shortages, this approach is more important than ever.
The overarching SaaS, or software-as-a-service, category is the largest and fastest-growing segment of the market. But as-a-service models are not limited to pure software plays. There are now such offerings for everything from fintech and manufacturing to logistics and healthcare.
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Fintech has transformed banking as we know it, and the as-a-service model is leading the charge. From online lending to blockchain and digital payments, fintech companies are coming up with new ways to serve customers better — and they’re doing it at a fraction of the cost of traditional banks.
Consider the case of card issuance. Businesses like Amazon, Delta, Apple and even Shell and ExxonMobil have all launched their own branded payment cards in recent years. Because these brands are focused on providing a great customer experience, they’re able to offer features and benefits that traditional banks can’t match.
Fintech-as-a-service recently made headlines with the announcement that Solid, a provider of software and services for developing financial applications, had raised $63 million in Series B funding. With offerings in banking, payments, cards and crypto, Solid is proving the value of a fintech-as-a-service platform.
Not a day goes by without headlines about the latest data breach or cyberattack. As businesses become more reliant on technology, they’re also becoming more vulnerable to attack.
While analog businesses might have been able to get away with patchwork security solutions, that’s no longer the case in the digital age. Companies need comprehensive, end-to-end security solutions that can evolve as quickly as the threats themselves.
For a business to build its own security solution from scratch would be prohibitively expensive. Fortunately, there’s no need to go it alone — security-as-a-service providers have you covered.
Security-as-a-service companies offer a range of solutions, from data loss prevention and firewalls to identity and access management. By bundling these services, businesses can get the protection they need at a price they can afford.
One firm within the security-as-a-service niche, Dedrone, recently raised $30 million for its drone protection platform. The platform uses sensors, AI and machine learning to detect, track and neutralize drones that enter a protected area.
Physical hardware might be the last thing you think of when you hear “as a service,” but it’s an increasingly important part of the Industry 4.0 landscape.
In the past, businesses had to make a huge upfront investment in hardware, whether it was servers, PCs or manufacturing equipment. Today, they can subscribe to hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) offerings that give them access to the latest and greatest equipment without breaking the bank.
HaaS providers offer a range of benefits, from lower costs to increased flexibility. In many cases, businesses can pay for only the amount of capacity they need, making HaaS a scalable solution that can grow with your business.
Berlin-based startup Topi recently raised $45 million to allow merchants to rent out equipment like smartphones, printers and robotic arms. The company’s HaaS platform is designed to help businesses manage their hardware needs in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
Consumer usership and ownership of electric vehicles are two very different things. In order for electric vehicles to reach mass market adoption, some argue, users need to be able to subscribe to them on a monthly basis, much as they would any other service.
Electric-vehicle-as-a-service (EVaaS) is an emerging category that’s starting to gain traction with both consumers and businesses. Onto recently raised $60 million to launch its EV subscription service.
The company’s offering includes not only the electric vehicle itself but also all of the associated services, including public charging, insurance and breakdown coverage. The subscription includes 750 miles per month.
Industry 4.0 is bringing new SaaS applications to consumers as well. The modern consumer spends the majority of their waking life online, to the extent that we’re seeing new applications of the metaverse.
One firm, Yepp, uses machine learning to capitalize on the growing Internet economy. Its social platform, which recently launched in beta, reached over 1 million users with AI-powered meme-creation features like a Face Swap algorithm, automated content suggestions, and the ability to edit any text and font in images.
Businesses are increasingly using memes to market to consumers, and the use of Industry 4.0 technologies like machine learning is accelerating this trend.
As we can see, “as-a-service” models are popping up in every industry imaginable. These models offer a number of advantages over traditional approaches, from lower costs to increased flexibility. In an ever-changing world, they provide the perfect way for companies to stay ahead of the curve.
Valerias Bangert is a strategy and innovation consultant, founder of three media outlets and published author.
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