Scott McCorkle’s five tenets of modern software

“Everyone knows Scott McCorkle,” said Eric Prugh, Co-Founder and COO of PactSafe, as he introduced the start of Indy Executive Roundtable, a conversation and discussion event hosted by PactSafe on September 8, 2016.

Prugh and McCorkle go way back to their days together at ExactTarget. Prugh got his start at ExactTarget in 2008 and stayed through the company’s acquisition by Salesforce in 2013. In January 2015 he left Salesforce to launch PactSafe, the world’s first application built to both comprehensively manage digital legal agreements and control online legal risks, along with founder and CEO Brian Powers. It was that foundation of success at ExactTarget and the leadership of Scott McCorkle that led Eric and Brian to found PactSafe and further the ecosystem of tech startups in Indiana.

The question on everyone’s mind has shifted to ask what’s next for Scott McCorkle since resigning from his position as CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud. PactSafe brought him together with Indiana tech entrepreneurs and leaders to discuss the future of the software-as-a-service industry.

The Future of SaaS

“The whole idea of software-as-a-service is interesting. The word SaaS is changing dramatically to the point that it’s inconceivable for software to be delivered any other way. SaaS now begins to mean the characteristics of modern software, of which delivering it as a service is one. There are five tenets working at the same time that are significant and are shaping what modern software looks like,” said McCorkle.

Cloud and Internet Delivery

“If you go back a couple of years, cloud could mean several things. We’re reaching a point where Amazon, Azure, and Google are exceptionally powerful platforms with previously unthinkable computing power that is instantly available and is changing the whole idea of what’s even possible,” said McCorkle.

Mobile

Forecasters are predicting 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020, but what does that mean for us as human beings? “We’ve never as a society or humanity had a unifying technology platform, and that’s what mobile is. But I don’t think we know what that means. Anthropologists, psychologists and software entrepreneurs don’t know what that means,” said McCorkle.

He went on to state that the peak of PC distribution is at 300 million PC’s with a 7-year replacement cycle, whereas our smartphones have a 2-year replacement cycle. Smartphones have completely rewritten the tech supply chain. “I think it’s humanity shaping, and for a tech startup, it’s inconceivable to not be mobile first,” said McCorkle.

Social

Worldwide, there are over 1.71 billion monthly active Facebook users, which explains that social media is a trend we cannot ignore. “It’s exceptional, it’s where everyone is. That in it’s own statement is important. The expectation of interaction, collaboration and community, and how people expect to work with others to resolve any task, has changed the expectation of our customers and users dramatically,” said McCorkle.

Data Science

“If you look at software broadly, we are managing an amount of data that is unprecedented. We have achieved this fidelity of data that the whole idea of having software is to extract knowledge from it. No one knows how to do it cause there’s too much of it. If you look at the advances made in machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science, it’s really extraordinary,” said McCorkle.

“If we use this word SaaS and what it means to be a modern SaaS company to not have cloud, mobile, social, and data science elements as an integral part of its architecture and capability – that’s a big mistake.”

Internet of Things (IoT)

Everything in our lives is now connected through devices and wearables, but what does that mean for the future of software?  

“The physical and digital worlds have converged. The whole idea of separation of people and where they are and how they are interacting with your product is truly the ability to reach them anywhere at anytime,” said McCorkle.

The question is not just for SaaS companies, but any company. “Think of your product and your customer in a completely blended, indistinguishable, continuous flow way. That’s what’s really disruptive about Uber, Lyft, FitBit, and Airbnb. There’s no distinction between the product and being a customer; it’s all one experience. This would fall into my top areas of startup advice, that from the beginning, you must think of your customers interacting with your service and your service as the same thing. Within our community today, the startup doing the best job at that is Clustertruck, which is a really cool seamless experience around the whole ordering food delivery service. And it’s no accident that Chris Baggott created that,” said McCorkle.

SaaS is much more than the a service being delivered, and it must be applied to all industries. “I’ve been challenged by many companies who say that what Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb are doing is not relevant to what we do. I think that’s dangerous thinking. Someone will think of ways to integrate customer and product experience in your space and you’ll be in deep trouble.”

McCorkle’s next move

After all the discussion on the future of SaaS, McCorkle gave a few insights into what he plans to do with his newfound free time.

“I’ve had my most dear mentors say to me that I’ve entered a wonderful world where I should cherish and recognize the amazing opportunity a break is, given the intensity of how hard we work in this industry. Say no to everything, they said. I pretty much have said no to everything, but there’s one area I’m having trouble saying no to. The one area that I feel active anxiety about disconnecting from is machine learning, artificial intelligence and data science,” said McCorkle.

“I think it’s that profound, what’s happening, and I also think it’s not just that it’s a different technology applied to our world of enterprise software. I think it can change the entire nature of enterprise software. When software starts telling you what to do, versus you saying to it what you want, user experience is different, user interface is different, architectures are different, it’s all different. I couldn’t name an example of anyone that’s done it right yet,” said McCorkle.

One area where ideas of machine learning and artificial intelligence are surfacing is with self-driving cars, which McCorkle says are imminent, and that a self-driving car by analogy will be significantly better at driving than a person.

“If we were all here brainstorming what the user experience of the self-driving car should be, we would be asking ‘how do we reassure the rider that this car is so much better at driving than they are?’ What kind of data can we show them that would create that reassurance? What then do we need from the rider? Not much. That starts to change what the rider can interact with. I think that analogy is going to happen with enterprise software and what we think of as a user experience.”

Aside from continuing his involvement in the tech industry, McCorkle is staying active and using his time to mentor others and be present, as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff instilled in him from their time together. As for new startups to launch or participate in, we’ll have to keep our eyes on him to find out.

PactSafe’s commitment to the technology community is strong and further conversations with Indy’s tech leaders through the Indy Executive Roundtable will occur quarterly. On a national level, PactSafe is supporting other startups through PactSafe for Startups, which allows startups, incubators and accelerators to access PactSafe and apply the software-as-a-service to their business at a low-cost that won’t kill your budget. For more information, visit https://www.pactsafe.com/startups.

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Sara Croft is the director of communications at TechPoint. She writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people and events. Reach out to Sara @saraelysecroft.