- or what is "Anything as a Service"?

Everything for the customer, anything for the customer!

XaaS (Anything as a Service) is an umbrella term that covers solutions where products (tools, technologies, infrastructure, hardware, software, etc.) are offered to users in the form of defined services.  In XaaS, the focus is on giving users access to the capabilities they need in the most efficient and personalised way, rather than on the user owning all the devices that have the capabilities they need.

A distinction must therefore be made between the product itself (e.g. photo editing software) and the capability it provides (e.g. photo retouching). This is an abstract separation, but it is a way to understand the meaning of XaaS and to identify the areas in which the XaaS model can be applied. Where it can be seen that the user really only needs the functionality provided by the product (retouching photos) and not necessarily the product itself (software installed on hardware), the XaaS model is worth considering. Where the user needs to own the product for its entire lifecycle, XaaS is probably not viable. To get the functionality you need and use it, it may not be worth owning (maintaining, operating, servicing, etc.) the product itself.

The nature of XaaS services is that they are usually delivered over the Internet, because to work effectively they require a network that is accessible to the majority of potential users almost anywhere and at any time, without significant time and space constraints. The uptake of XaaS solutions depends to a large extent on the development of digitalisation.

One of the main market areas for the XaaS model is computing (which is the raison d'être of XaaS itself). There are three main - interdependent - areas:

  1. IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service): the service provider offers only the infrastructure as a service. The service is provided as an "infrastructure service". The user can access various resources remotely via the Internet. They do not need to operate them, they just use them.
  2. PaaS (platform as a service): offers additional platform services along with the infrastructure. It therefore provides a more complex service than IaaS.
  3. SaaS (Software as a Service): the provision of complete cloud-based applications and services. The provider manages the entire application, usually through a web browser.

XaaS can also be understood - and is emerging - in other industries. One example is MaaS (Mobility as a Service), which is redefining transport by offering passengers a service in which they are given different levels and qualities of travel entitlements for different modes of transport. Such a service package could include, for example, a monthly full-fare pass for public transport, daily P+R parking passes and a city car-sharing service with a set mileage. MaaS could in principle encourage people to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport. Full MaaS solutions are still limited in the world, perhaps because for most modes of transport people do not already own mobility devices, they just use them, although they have mainly done so as a separate mode of transport. Therefore, MaaS could achieve results by combining services of individual vehicle use (parking, tolls, access charges, etc.), vehicle rental and public vehicle sharing (car, bike, scooter, scooter, etc.), to which other traditional modes of transport could then be added.

XaaS services most often have a periodic (e.g. monthly) fee. So there is no additional cost for the services defined in the package. It is also common practice that if the package limit of a service is exceeded, the service can be switched to a separate tariff and can continue to be used without interruption, or the customer may be offered a "bigger" package with more entitlements.

A similar logic is used for mobile operators' tariff packages, which offer a set amount of negotiable minutes, mobile internet and other entitlements (e.g. unlimited social media, music on specific platforms, etc.). These packages are designed to cover as much as possible the needs of a well-defined group of users, or even to allow the user to fine-tune the service package within certain limits, thus providing him with specific benefits. The list could be extended to include accident, life and health insurance packages, financial services, etc.

In a sense, social media providers could also be included in XaaS, as they do not offer their platforms as a single product to users, but as services that can be customised. They are constantly evolving, innovating and expanding. The main difference is that instead of paying monthly fees, users give their data to the service providers and display advertisements for them.

The XaaS model can also be found in the entertainment industry. Perhaps the most common example is Netflix, where there are different packages with a monthly fee and a set of rights and restrictions. The more expensive the package, the more rights and the fewer restrictions you get in return. One could mention the music industry equivalent, Spotify. These services can attract a lot of users (and revenue) to the film and music industry who might not have bought a film or music CD in a shop before.

Looking at the examples, the main strength of the XaaS model is that it makes services available to users very quickly, easily - and importantly, conveniently - while usually offering them on more favourable terms than traditional channels. This makes users more willing to use them.

The more favourable conditions are essentially ensured because the service provided to users involves only limited use of the product, rather than ownership of the product. In this way, the product's capabilities can be exploited more efficiently and flexibly during operation.

XaaS can also be used to attract users to a market who could not be reached by traditional models, thereby generating additional consumption that would not have been possible with traditional models. What's more, XaaS can even create new user needs and offer its own solutions to meet them, creating new opportunities and revenue streams for service providers - what better incentive needed?

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