Industry Analyst & Strategist
What causes you to reevaluate your infrastructure, services, or SaaS providers? In the Sandler Sales Methodology, one of the key tools is digging for, understanding, and solving for pain points. Sorry Zapier, you've become one. And that's too bad, but not only have I solved for a specific issue, I've reaffirmed a core professional tenant. Own your work.
I was pressed yesterday by a #MorningCoffee reader (you know who you are). Do you really write this every day? How much time does this take? And so on and so forth as we delved into workflows and processes. [Yes readers, I will actually answer your email, pick up the phone, or meet you if I can.] All of this querying led me to think about how I automate. SaaS based automation tools are fantastic for, ultimately, a small subset of customers/users. First, you have to be technical enough to understand what is going on and why it is going on. Second, how can the SaaS based automation tool solve the problem for me quickly and cost effectively?
When you are severely pressed for time to get stuff done, nothing beats an out of the box solution. SaaS products depend on this pain. I need to get taxes done, Intuit. I need to get a blog up, WordPress.com. I need to whatever, SaaSX. SO back in the early days, I needed to not just bookmark content, but annotate it, grab a URL, grab a title, grab other meta, populate a spreadsheet, build a content outline, and so on, and so on. Zapier solved this problem quickly and at a cost that made sense. Then late in 2022:
Um, my invoice for everything I needed at the time of this Upcoming Changes to Zapier was $49.00 / month. So best case I was going to pay 262% more, and all at once, or on a monthly basis, 395% more! That's crazy. Either Zapier's product and business model are not built to scale (software costs for what I am using should go down as more people use a product), or there is some kind of incompetence, or worst case, all the initial customers were just investor bait to show off a growing Active Users metric. I honestly don't know which should apply to the ~400% price hike, and it doesn't matter. The pain was the price, not why you were enacting this "upcoming change." Side note, "upcoming change" is very disingenuous – "radical price hike" would have been much more honest.
One of the reasons open source is such a fantastic value proposition is because you can own all of your work. Depending on the license and how you distribute, others can as well, but that's not a price you are paying. You are still getting the benefit and control of your work. Also, technology moves at a crazy pace so there are always new solutions to address pains if you take a little time.
Let's do a cost benefit analysis. Do I really want to now pay $1500 (best case) for something that previously cost $600? No. What can I do that costs me $900 this year and less than $600/year going forward?
Depending on your own (or internal corporate) hourly rate, it may still make sense to pay the new price. But if your rate is $900/hour and you spend one hour, you will break even in one year and going forward it's all gravy. You may also reach intellectual property nirvana. You (person or corporation) will own your work, which will make it easier to make decisions about your automations, how they are used, and agile when a service removes features/break/disappear.
While my solutions aren't as open source as I'd like. They are mine. I own them. I understand more of what is happening. I have created a library of information for future use. If I was an enterprise, I'd probably go directly to implementing APIs that are flexible and business specific. If I was an enterprise, I'd want to reduce 3rd party risk, whether technological or financial. If I was an enterprise, I'd want to build in-house. And guess what all of that ownership of automation also brings? A better bottom line. An asset. An asset that can increase your valuation for investors or a sale. An asset that can independently be sold. It's yours.
An automation is just software by another name. Treat it as your own.