What Types of SaaS are Dominating the Industry?

Updated on by Hayley Brown

Read time: 7 minutes

Just like any industry there are types and leaders that dominate the market. Before joining Cyclr I was unaware of the scale of the SaaS or cloud infrastructure industry. I’d previously worked with two different Software as a Service applications. Salesforce a horizontal model, and Class Systems a vertical model. Both competing in a crowded market, but who is leading? 

We explore the types and categories of SaaS applications on the market. It may help to determine which application is appropriate for your business software solutions.

Software as a Service and Industry Growth 

SaaS is defined as a cloud-based subscription service, which makes software easily accessible over the internet. It removes the need to download software onto your computer, and thus is able to provide regular updates and support. 

The SaaS industry has been steadily growing over the past 10 years. The market size in 2020 doubled that of 2014 to 157 billion U.S. dollars. Leaders in the industry include Salesforce, Microsoft and IBM who have the largest market share in the global SaaS market. 

The growth of the market can be attributed to a combination of technological innovation, customer behaviour and demand. Recently external factors such as the COVID pandemic have caused market increases. The pandemic, according to Gartner has seen businesses forced to focus on ‘preserving cash flow and optimise IT costs, support and secure a remote workforce, and ensure resiliency’. Post pandemic spending on cloud infrastructure and software is only expected to increase. 

Types of SaaS – What is Horizontal and Vertical SaaS?

There are two different types of Software as a Service models, horizontal SaaS and vertical SaaS.

A horizontal SaaS is a structure well used by established cloud services such as Salesforce, Microsoft, Slack, Hubspot etc. The horizontal model allows big businesses to cater to a broad customer base, from ranging industries, to run their businesses effectively and efficiently. The model makes it easier for expansion or bundling up their offering. Meaning they can expand their services to incorporate a variety of SaaS categories under one roof. For example, Google or Microsoft developed communication products in the shape of Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams. 

On the other hand, vertical SaaS solutions are created to target a specific or niche industry. Examples include insurance, trade or an underserved industry. The model focuses on the industry’s verticals, and creates solutions for the niche industry’s pain points and needs. For example, Guidewire, a SaaS solution that only creates software for the insurance industry, or Toast software for the restaurant industry. 

Within the SaaS market there are categories of applications that provide software solutions dependent on your business, industry or customer needs.

Diagram demonstrates the types of horizontal, vertical and hybrid SaaS companies, taken from Crozdesk’s SaaS and Cloud Trends 2018.
Diagram demonstrates the types of horizontal, vertical and hybrid SaaS companies, taken from Crozdesk’s SaaS and Cloud Trends 2018.

Customer Relationship Management or CRM 

Customer data is an invaluable resource for any business. CRM’s allow businesses to collate and store all your customer data in an efficient and secure way. In storing customer data effectively it can help improve customer relationships, customer segmentation and better protection of data privacy. 

The most common users of CRM software are B2C companies, who sell directly to consumers. The departments within those businesses that use CRM software are sales, marketing and customer service teams. CRM software enables users to automate repetitive tasks, create sales reports, forecast, and scale processes over time. They are able to manage communication with customers, and manage customer data in a centralised database across your entire organisation. 

Popular CRMs include Salesforce, Mailchimp, Pipedrive, Hubspot and Zendesk. To understand their connector methods you can find them all in Cyclr’s Connector Library

Human Resources (HR) 

Within every company there is a human resources (HR) department. They are responsible for managing and supporting employees whether it be recruitment, training or administering employee benefits. 

HR SaaS software solutions provide a number of benefits to business users. The ability to manage employees in regards to work schedules, holiday, sick leave etc. The software can also keep track of employees performance, time with the company and help retain valuable employees. The HR department is an integral part of a business which provides updates and communication to employees. This helps develop the company collaborative culture by keeping employees informed, engaged and productive. 

Commonly used HR SaaS software solutions include Breathe HR, People HR and Bullhorn. You can find them all in our ready-made SaaS application Connector Library, and further understand how they can be incorporated in your integration strategy.


Keeping track of finances for any business is crucial. Therefore account and billing SaaS software solutions can provide a myriad of benefits to the user. They help you keep track of cash flow, transactions, and budgets. Using a SaaS application to manage a company’s finances can help save time and effort. Specifically in time spent reconciling accounts, financial errors, data entry, payroll, taxes and customer payments. 

Typical industries using account and/or billing SaaS software include, banking, business services, manufacturing, retail and the government. Popular accounting or billing SaaS companies include Quickbooks, Chargebee and Chargify


In the past year communication based SaaS software such as Slack and Zoom have seen unprecedented usage. Communication based software solutions have replaced typical office methods such as email, phone calls and in-person meetings, with chat messaging, video and/or voice calls. 

When a communication SaaS is integrated with collaborative SaaS vendors, such as Google Drive, employees can share and discuss projects. Enabling features such as receiving automated in-app notifications when changes are made. Providing a seamless service, better collaboration, and communication is located in one place. 

Want to see how SaaS Communication software could be incorporated into your business? You can find both Slack, Zoom and others in our Connector Library.

Project Management

Businesses typically balance between multiple projects at one time, or atleast projects are juggled within teams. A Project Management SaaS is a solution that can help businesses or teams stay organised and on top of their ongoing projects. They provide the ability to plan, track, allocate, schedule, communicate and collaborate with other team members on a project in one place. 

PM SaaS can show the evolution of the project and track who has completed what in your team. Trello, a project management application allows teams to manage projects, organise tasks, and keep productivity high.

Project Management SaaSs are typically used by larger businesses in industries such as Services (IT, Consulting), Financial, Marketing and Advertising. Popular SaaS vendors include Trello, Github and Basecamp

Content Management System (CMS) and E-Commerce

A CMS is typically web-based software or a low code toolkit that helps a user to create a website or app. It gives the user the ability to create, manage and modify content without the need to know how to code or technical knowledge. 

WordPress is a great example of a CMS that provides building blocks for a website. An e-commerce example would be Shopify allowing business owners to add products, adjust content and monitor changes. 

Content Management Systems have a plethora of benefits. They are user friendly, allow for quick deployment, easy upkeep and maintenance, cost effective, scalable, and have inbuilt SEO benefits. CMS solutions are used across a variety of different industries to promote new products, publish articles or manage social media. 

Other types of popular SaaS solutions include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Experience, Marketing/Email, Product Management, and others. You can see all our SaaS connectors in our pre-existing, ready made SaaS connector library for more information. 

Orchestrate your SaaS applications with Cyclr

What types of SaaS are dominating the Industry?

The horizontal SaaS model dominates the SaaS market which you can see from  G2’s Crowd Report

  1. Microsoft – Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint, PowerPoint, Office (Collaboration & Communication)
  2. Hubspot – Sales Hub, Marketing Hub, CMS Hub, Service Hub, Academy (CMS, Marketing, Help Desk)
  3. Zoom Video Communications – Zoom, Zoom Rooms, Zoom Video Webinar, Keybase, Zoom Scheduler (Communication)
  4. Atlassian – Trello, Jira, Confluence, Jira Service Management, Bitbucket (Project / Product Management, Help Desk)
  5. ActiveCampaign – ActiveCampaign (Marketing)
  6. Smartsheet – Smartsheet, 10,000ft, Smartsheet for Gmail Add-On for G-Suite, Smartsheet for G-Suite (Project Management)
  7. Google – Drive, Forms, Docs, Hangouts, Analytics (Collaboration & Communication)
  8. Cisco – Webex Meetings, Jabber, Webex (formerly Webex Teams), Duo Security, Cisco Umbrella (Communication & Security)
  9. ZoomInfo – ZoomInfo, ZoomInfo Engage, NeverBounce, InboxAI, FormComplete (Sales)
  10. SurveyMonkey – SurveyMonkey, Enterprise, Wufoo, GetFeedback, Market Research Solutions (Survey & Customer Experience)

The top ten listed SaaS solutions are all big name brands who offer products that can be used no matter what your industry is. The reasons for this dominance could be because of the numerous benefits horizontal SaaS models provide. For not only the developer but also their customers.

For instance, a horizontal SaaS has a broad target and more accessible market of potential consumers who are easier to reach. Products can be introduced to the market much quicker, and customers have familiarity with large horizontal SaaS companies. 

For their customers they are a cost effective solution. For instance, making only one investment in a business software solution. Meaning marketing or project management needs can be accomplished from one platform. This can then lead to better collaboration amongst the customers internal teams. 

Vertical SaaS for Niche Sectors are Rising

Earlier this year we wrote our SaaS predictions for the year ahead. Of those, we predicted that there would be an increased opportunity for vertically focused SaaS solutions. Vertical SaaS companies can target specific pain points experienced in their industry. They can tackle segments of the SaaS market or niche sectors that are underserved. By delivering more business value to a narrower target audience. 

Vertical SaaSs can move away from the oversaturated markets and provide better outcomes for their specific sectors. With their primary benefit being the ability to go deep into the industry to offer solutions to specific challenges faced. Unlike a horizontal SaaS skimming the surface of multiple industries. 

Will vertical SaaS disrupt the oversaturated SaaS applications dominating the industry? They are on the rise so we can only wait and see.

Other SaaS Resources

Avatar for Hayley Brown

Hayley Brown

With several years experience in the digital marketing space after graduating from Sussex University, Hayley has gone on to work in the retail and education industries. In 2020 she joined the Cyclr team and is working alongside Daniel in the Marketing Department.

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