SaaS has come a long way and has truly become the first port of call for meeting the compute, business solution needs for startups and SMEs.
The evolution has been strong and it has now proven itself against the naysayers who earlier cried foul over security, privacy, availability and reliability concerns.
The truth now is that SaaS is pushing the tech envelope and adopting the cloud, cyber security and technology platform trends. SaaS solution vendors are providing ever increasing business confidence with tiered Service Level Agreements, Data protection commitments and standards compliant Information & Security protection practices.
"Horizontal SaaS solution have become mature with established solution and an educated customer base"
With AI and Automation, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and bots, the next stage of evolution is upon us and it is an exciting time. Gone are the days where system did only what they were told, now machine learning capabilities that are aligned with architectures and algorithms making systems almost self-aware.
The time to market advantages has so far taken precedence and mitigated to a large extent the cost implications of the SaaS offerings. However, arguments are still rife that over a longer time horizon, SaaS is more expensive than the on-premise option. The argument is slowly losing steam and the justification process has reversed where the question asked is why not SaaS indicating what’s the default option.
The more potent observation is with respect to the pay for which model you use and how effective it has proven to be. Not surprisingly, the cash outflow being dynamic force a behavior that makes the admin look at the utilizations and qualify what is reported and costed. Since this is done on a monthly basis, the optimization of infrastructure, licenses, resources are possible. Contrast this with on premise options where the granular elements, capacity and maximizing the investment is less, operationally critical and natural inefficiency creeps in. SaaS providers are focused on being efficient themselves and they force this culture inadvertently on to their customers as well.
The ultimate prize is to improve the customer experience, and the goal is to achieve this with reduced waste, cost optimized architecture, and enabling the maximized utilization of deployed solutions. Customers always appreciate faster, efficient delivery. In some instances, it does not even matter whether it’s a bot or a human being who responds, there are scenarios where a fast and accurate response is all that matters. This is especially critical when flow must be maintained, and where crowding and queueing results in customer dissatisfaction. Please do note however that I am not advocating face to face interactions and empathetic communication is no longer relevant, they have their valued place in other settings.
Another factor enabling the uptake is the ever-increasing mobile work force, for whom the smartphone is effectively an office desk. Smart folks need workplace flexibility and hassle-free access to software. They are best served with SaaS solutions that require a data connection and are designed and optimized for this manner of usage. Performance and usability is the holy grail and imperative for competitive advantage, 10X improvement, now that does sound familiar.
The overall confidence with SaaS solutions has risen to levels where they now outperform enterprises with on premise alternative. Security risks are handled by the provider, automation allows them to quickly scan and patch servers and it’s been evident the SaaS providers are more up to date on patches than SaaS users.
Domain knowledge and expertise is appreciated more deeply than ever and this is helping Vertical SaaS solutions to thrive and grow their market. Horizontal SaaS solution have become mature with established solution and an educated customer base. Sales and CRM are best examples of successful horizontal SaaS solutions. However, one size does not fit all and serious work is happening which will make the human computer interface a reality making the SaaS space even more interesting.
Business intelligence and reporting is also evolving with less interest on the past or historic data and systems are required to point the way forward, what do I do now, what do I do next. This is putting a lot of emphasis on analysis and especially Predictive Analytics where AI will be the biggest contributor.
One tricky terrain that tends to negatively impact an otherwise well planned SaaS migration is the integration needs, the almost certain incompatibility between the legacy, existing software and SaaS. This will require additional coding and rework in development, testing and using more effort than planned.
In my view the critical success factor is still the people. The management, business strategy, the capability of the development teams, the effectiveness of customer feedback loops must all be geared to respond and enhance the customer experience. We need smart people to manage and develop smart software and keep it intuitive balancing the increasing automation and AI innovations.
Smart people know this fundamental truth that change is the only constant, However, the more it changes, the more its the same thing.