Life Cereal came up with the perfect early adopter commercial back in the 70's: Let Mikey try it.
It seems as though the providers that have mastered SaaS have a few things in common; one is leveraging an early adopter program.
The idea is that the provider shares new applications or new major releases with a small set of specific customers before making the new software generally available. They do that because it allows them to learn from those customer experiences: catching software bugs and...just as important...perfecting the service component in the offering. It's the latter component where an effective center of excellence comes into play.
By addressing service and service process issues based on learning acquired in the early adopter period, an effective center of excellence will have standardized processes and procedures for customers onboarding and starting with the new software by the time the product is generally available. Which makes getting from onboarding start to valuable first use happen better, faster and cheaper. And, in a SaaS world, that's the key to customer success.
It's a good model: let Mikey try it.