Corporate Software Solutions – What’s the Right Lens?

There are many terms thrown out in the venture world like SaaS, workflow solutions, productivity tools, analytics suites, data orchestrations, and smart integrations.  While often used interchangeably, whether correctly or incorrectly, some of these terms refer to a business model, some refer to product features, and some an expected result.  It’s a venn diagram of labels and acronyms that has increasingly merged. 

What’s clear though is that corporations have always had numerous dynamic workflows – some more automated, some more core or productive, some more outward facing, and some more inward facing.  For these workflows, software remains a pervasive solution everywhere.  

But software really just enables a series of steps in a business process, managing data along the way to better achieve business goals.  The original mantra:  Workflow automation would increase speed and accuracy, while eliminating critical errors.  Much of the time it would replace mundane human activity with digital ones.  The new mantra:  Integrate multiple automated processes into existing corporate architecture to achieve higher-level insights and better human decision making.  It’s a case of, “until I brought it all together, I didn’t know what I was missing.”  

So what lens should an investor or a founder have when assessing the opportunity set for a particular software?   Are all these new workflows, integrations, or analytics really useful?  Are they a game changer?  Or are some of them just a pile of tech on top of tech for the sake of it, fueled by a start-up funding bubble that has already begun to deflate?

Here are the five key factors that drive our scorecard when we evaluate a new venture in software: 

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