Alan TuringYesterday was the third official meeting of the Software as a Service group. It started out with the heads of a few SaaS accounting software firms getting together and taking it in turns to give money to Fullers,  but has now been formalised under the auspices of Intellect.

The first task we set ourselves was to put together a briefing document explaining SaaS to the uninitiated, starting with a definition of what is and isn’t SaaS. You’d be amazed (or perhaps not) at how some people/organisations want to stretch the definition to breaking point in order to be included in the definition.  I guess everyone just wants to be associated with the latest hot tech.

One of the attendees yesterday was John Patterson of Really Simple Systems. Last year when we won the main award for Small Business Accounting Software, beating all of the traditional software vendors, Johns SaaS firm did the same in the CRM category.

John has come up with a beautifully simple and equally beautifully named “Touring Test”. He says on his blog:

Next time you are on holiday, walk into the hotel lobby and log on to your application using whatever machine and browser they have. If you can access all the data and all the functionality in your SaaS application immediately, without having to download any extra software, it’s a true SaaS product.

I can’t find anything wrong with that definition – it’s about as close to perfect as is possible I think. It’s comprehensible to the non techies, and has a name that make us geeks feel superior to everyone who hasn’t heard of the Turing Test.

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