Over the last decade or so, the industry has shifted from customers installing software at their physical locations to renting Web-based software over the Internet on a monthly basis. It’s moving this way because customers want it to, and so do vendors.
Most software companies get their revenue from “shelfware” (software that is rarely used and ends up on the proverbial shelf). Popular programs like Quicken or SAP – for which customers pay the total cost up front – can be complicated, making them difficult to use and achieve maximum benefit from. However, once a customer has paid for these programs, there is no incentive for the company to follow up and ensure that it is working properly for the customer.
But hold on, things might be improving. Newer companies like Concur (expense reimbursement), Salesforce.com (sales automation), Hire.com (recruiting and hiring automation), and Taleo (also recruiting and hiring automation) are turning out to be quite successful in renting software over the Web to their customers.