In the second half of the 20th century, one man dared to speak out against the social norms and preconceptions of our world. This man championed the rights of an entire people, brave, undaunted by the controversy and personal danger he brought upon himself for speaking his mind.
Until his tragic passing, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to change the way humanity saw itself, no longer as a divided series of individual groups segregated by culture, nationality or skin color, but as one united race. Dr. King taught us to see ourselves as one great people, a family bonded and united against the darkness of the cosmos around us.
Dr. King is a hero to billions, and history shall never forget his dauntless sacrifices, his status as a saintly champion for the rights of all men and women whom are blessed to live upon this planet Earth. In all things, we strive to learn from Dr. King’s legacy, and the legacy of those who followed his intrepid path in the times after his passing.
What then, can we learn about SaaS from the teachings of Dr. King? Some would say that this is an abstract parallel to draw, and others would say it is a disrespectful one, and to these statements I say, “No sir”.
Dr. King’s wisdom and love for his fellow man transcends the issues of his day which he bravely addressed. And, so bold and true are his teachings that any community, be it society or a business field, can learn so much from this man.
I would like to take a moment and look at three things Dr. King said and did that we can learn so much from, in our SaaS industry today. So many problems that Dr. King spoke out against and overcame himself are prevalent in our industry, and I believe the good man himself would agree, were he still with us now.
First, the most infamous speech Dr. King made was of his dream of a world where all were equal in all things, that nobody was shackled by inequality due to circumstantial and abstract things such as race, age or other things one has no control over. This is a valid thing to chastise, and one we still struggle, decades after Dr. King’s passing, to overcome in our society.
Alas, in the SaaS field, equality for customers is almost nonexistent in many models that are currently implemented. The disparity between paid and free customers is far too great, and the cost of upgrades is too prohibitively high for many to be able to afford it, or at least do so happily. This schism is a problem, and not only is it rather unfair to users, but it also causes the prices to increasingly become higher, resulting in a sifted few paid users and a vast majority of neglected free users. This echoes the wealth disparity in our society, which Dr. King strongly opposed, and like the disparity in society, something must be done to address this, and quickly.
Dr. King’s outreach to the people was as diverse and all-encompassing as the rights he spoke out for, and this is another thing SaaS has been guilty of neglecting in recent times. SaaS is becoming too niche-oriented and exclusive, resulting in customers who would have a good use for the product not even knowing it exists.
This problem is a result of complacency, and complacency is just never good in these times, especially in any software industry. SaaS is such a young field in the public eye, and yet, already status quo is being valued over progress and outreach, improvement and diversity.
Let us learn from Dr. King that all should hear and be heard, and that complacency is just another definition of laziness.
Finally, Dr. King was a very brave man, unabashed by the risks he faced from violence, ostracism and the unbending nature of social norms. As Dr. King bravely stood his ground and spoke new, earth shaking philosophies, so must we as SaaS pioneers remember that fear is an enemy we cannot afford not to defeat.
We must continue to stand up for our software model as the way to handle computing in the future, not as a way but the way, as Dr. King spoke for equality and civil liberties as the only way mankind may endure. We must be unafraid to try new ideas, and not bow down to trends and standards, and we must put our hearts and our souls into these new ideas we believe in so much.
We shall forever remember the sacrifice Dr. King made to awaken us to the sicknesses that still plague society to some extent today, but the best way to remember him is to actually live what he taught, in all things we do in our lives.