What is a Horizontal SaaS? (+5 Examples)

September 29, 2022

Over the last several years, life has been a little complicated. Pandemic, vaccinations, businesses going down, countries on the verge of economic crises, and so forth. 

Not everything was affected badly, though. 

The Software as a Service industry has grown quite dramatically over the last few years. It generated more than  $100 billion in 2020 alone! And it's always expected to reach even more growth within this year and the years ahead. 

And if you're also considering getting familiar with the SaaS industry and diving deep into it, the first basic questions you might have in mind are probably about certain types of SaaS business models - including Vertical SaaS and Horizontal SaaS. 

In this article, I'll be talking about Horizontal SaaS, in particular, its definition, and the benefits of running horizontal platforms, and will provide some familiar examples for better understanding. 

Let's get to it.


What is a Horizontal SaaS? 

Horizontal SaaS is a cloud software solution that's focused on a wide target audience of businesses, irrespective of their industry. Considering the scope and the overall business model, it's safe to say that a Horizontal Solution chiefly deals with bigger business needs rather than individual customers and a single industry.

Its goal is to offer a sophisticated service that covers a wide extent of the addressable market and a customer base through numerous channels.

Let me elaborate on that a bit.

Horizontal software is chiefly created and designed to be implemented across industries and businesses. The solutions it provides usually address common pain points that all organizations encounter, regardless of their industry, business model, size, or market share.

The most common examples usually include CRM systems, email marketing tools, cloud storage services, and Cloud Platforms. However, before going on with the examples, let's take a quick look at some of the key benefits you can get out of a horizontal software platform. 


Benefits of running a horizontal software platform 


  • Budget-friendly

Horizontal SaaS solutions are known to be providers of various growth chances that almost every business can leverage without big checks.

For instance, a company that's working on VPN services or provides digital marketing can easily use a single project management software like Monday.com to track and control its process within departments. In this case, the company does not need further investment in software to be able to provide digital marketing services and VPN.

Just with the help of Monday.com, they can create and closely track what every team and department is up to on the same tool in an easy and budget-friendly way.


  •  Growth Opportunities

Being an entrepreneur is all about being constantly on the lookout for new ideas, ways, a wide range of opportunities, positions, and gaps in the current horizontal markets. And what Horizontal SaaS does for these entrepreneurs at that point is all about creating an opportunity to take instant action before others do, thus giving them a head start.

Continuing with the same example of Monday.com to manage digital marketing and VPN solutions, let's say you have recently come across invaluable insights that you can use and transform into ✨improvements✨ in your services.

For instance, you may encounter potential customers or current users being unable to use the VPN according to their needs. With this information, you can create or improve more VPN solutions that primarily focus on meeting these fresh needs.

This kind of approach will help you build longer-lasting relationships with your customers and create room for overall growth as a natural result. 


  •  Efficient Collaboration. Efficient time management.

For any business owner out there, time is probably one of the foremost resources in terms of value and limitedness. This is the reason why it's a smart move to invest deeply in great software that can practice a broad range of functions and match great with different fields, enabling you to collaborate with various teams and work better. 


  • Recognition and Reliability

When it comes to trust among a variety of industries, brands, and businesses, recognition plays a big part. This derives from the fact that humans, as natural beings, are prone to feel closer to familiar notions, names, faces, and of course, services. 

And Horizontal SaaS brands are known to be more common to customers - Slack, Office 365, Salesforce, Freshworks, you get the point.

Consequently, customers instantly become more prone to rely on a developer who offers them this product rather than one targeted at a certain niche.


5 Horizontal SaaS Businesses You've Probably Heard of 


1- Salesforce


Salesforce is among the most popular and widely loved sales tools predominant in the CRM solutions market right now, and that shouldn't come as a surprise since it's a great provider of integrations and almost all kinds of customization options.

Being an amazing Horizontal Saas example, Salesforce manages to help all sizes of teams keep track of sales activities with the help of insightful reports.

The software is especially known for its unique tools and in-app capabilities, such as an AI-powered cloud app, sales funnel creation, SMS, MMS, group messaging, 24/7 customer support, and more.


2- Microsoft 365 

Microsoft 365 is hands down one of the best document collaboration tools out there with its specially designed productivity cloud that's primarily created to help you manage your team and get work done in an instant. 

At its core, it's a service that achieves to combine old-school Microsoft apps with new ones, enabling them to be accessible within the cloud. It mainly focuses on ensuring that the user is constantly exposed to the most recent Office apps from Microsoft. 

In addition to all the familiar tools that we all love, such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, Microsoft 365 comes with device management, security, and robust cloud services.

With all these brilliant features, Microsoft 365 manages to help you access, share, and store files, stay connected with your team with group chats, emails, calendars, and online meetings, and protect your data at all costs - setting a great example of a Horizontal Saas used in a cloud-productivity tool.


3- Slack


You must be quite familiar with Slack already. It's one of the leading messaging apps for businesses with a gigantic record of growth rate -  a $1 billion valuation.

Launched in 2013, Slack was developed by Slack Technologies with the aim of helping professional and organizational communication, and it has achieved to do so ever since. It has become one of the best tools for a business to communicate and focus on teamwork, being both available for desktop and mobile and also through its main website. 

It's a great example of Horizontal Saas used in online communication that manages to offer public channels for team members in which they can have conversations without a bunch of emails or overwhelming group texts. 


4- Freshworks


Freshworks is a CRM and contact management system that enables you to manage and improve your relationships with your contacts to be able to create solid and long-lasting connections with your clients. 

It's a tool that automates contact data entry and makes it easier for you to get a 360-degree perspective of individual customers, sales activity, and appointments. Without leaving the tool itself, you can place calls or send emails or even integrate with Google Workspace to access Google Docs, Google Drive, Gmail, and more. 





 QuickBooks is a great software that specializes in features focused on cash flow tracking, scheduling, income-outcome monitoring, and all things related to accounting. It's by far a favorite from fans since it manages to do all I've mentioned above with great ease of setup and use.

It also comes with many integration opportunities with other software, including Shopify, Paypal, and many more - which makes it an even greater SaaS example used specifically in online accounting.