Bridging the state-of-the-art and the state-of-the-practice of SaaS pricing: A multivocal literature review
Context: Pricing is an essential element of software business strategy and tactics. Informed pricing decision-making requires the involvement of different stakeholders and comprehensive data analysis. Achieving both appears to be challenging, and pricing remains one of the most under-managed processes in the software business. Simultaneously, a coherent SaaS pricing body of knowledge and verified solutions to assist SaaS providers while designing and implementing pricing are missing.
Objective: There is a lack of integration among different research areas focused on SaaS pricing and, more importantly, between academia and industry. The primary aim of this paper is to clarify this misconception by classifying, thematically analyzing, and putting in correspondent academic state-of-the-art and industrial state-of-the-practice of SaaS pricing.
Method: A multivocal literature review (MLR) approach was used for the study, exploring both “white” literature as well as “grey” literature. The body of literature of 387 bibliography items was collected using a formal protocol. Of these, 57 were white literature items, and 330 were grey. A multistage content analysis process was implemented to classify the rich literature body across multiple dimensions with further mapping, synthesis, and reporting.
Results: A taxonomy of pricing-related concepts was created. It classifies SaaS pricing aspects, affecting factors, and challenges facing SaaS providers. The findings and interpretations are summarized to emphasize the major research themes and practical challenges of SaaS pricing practices’ transformation and provide further research guidelines in this area.
Conclusion: SaaS pricing is a maturing and prominent area of research that requires further investigation. The conducted MLR formed a clear picture of SaaS pricing research and practice and identified different SaaS pricing aspects and affecting factors. The study will enable both scholars and practitioners to assess the current state-of-the-art in research and practice.