When two worlds collide

As more and more companies make the transition to the Cloud and deploy SaaS solutions that answer to specific business problems, what was once only the remit of IT teams is now being discussed in boardrooms and chosen by the citizens of the organisations.

Reflecting what we have come to expect as the minimum standard in our consumer experience when it comes to technology, organisations are demanding support systems that are agile, fast, help them keep up with current trends and be profitable and competitive. SaaS solutions hosted in the Cloud are often the answer to these corporate needs and in this post we discuss how that is changing the decision making centres within organisations.

Hold on: SaaS is not new!

The SaaS delivery model for software was introduced almost two decades ago, replacing incumbent on-premise solutions and has come to be considered mainstream and acknowledged as secure and reliable.

SaaS, the largest segment of the cloud market, is expected to grow 22.2% to reach $73.6 billion this year. In the same Gartner report, it is also predicted that SaaS will reach 45% of total application software spending by 2021.

At the same time IT budgets for on-premise applications have dropped year on year since 2012 while SaaS budgets are increasing, as much as 53%. And this trend is likely only to accelerate.

So why have these types of solutions become so popular?

Firstly, speed to implementation. As quickly as your credit card is paying for the monthly subscription, the lights are turned on and new technology is supporting the business: simply plug and play with no laborious steering committees required to make a commitment.

With little or no configuration, these solutions slipstream into existing processes replacing other, outdated, on-premise technology systems or manual and time consuming workarounds including email and spreadsheets.

From a technical perspective, applications deployed through the SaaS model either seamlessly integrate with the existing IT environment or simply do not need to. After implementation there is no ongoing requirement for IT administrators to maintain the software either.

SaaS solutions, with their scalable subscription models, represent significant cost savings for the business vis-a-vis large scale, enterprise-wide deployments that can be static in their scope.

Decisions have become decentralised from the IT department

The SaaS model is seeing the transition of the central IT department; whose focus is less and less on building custom systems and much more about third party integrations, consolidating data across siloed sources and defining the enterprise architecture necessary for a variety of SaaS solutions to co-exist.

TechRepublic reported earlier this year that departments other than IT are now making the push for the latest technology solutions. Choices around software platforms are being made by line-of-business individuals that do not have responsibility for IT in their job title but who are smart and technology focused problem-solvers, demanding purpose-built offerings designed to deliver specific outcomes.

Users are then able to continue to self-serve with subscriptions being managed on an ongoing basis at the departmental level within organisations rather than centralised IT teams. The user can work directly with the vendor’s services team for the implementation and maintenance.

This change in ownership over business-enabling tech solutions, is seeing decision-making times radically reduce, the extinction of lengthy RFPs and evaluation times of platform providers truncate through quickly executable pilots.

Firms can experience the benefits almost immediately

Time to installation, configuration, training and onboarding have traditionally been just a few of the causes of lengthy implementations for on-premise software, chosen by centralised IT departments on behalf of the entire organisation.

With SaaS, the software is, to a certain extent, out-of-the-box with minimal requirements necessary in order to have a live instance ready for use. Many SaaS providers will also have a trial period or sandbox that means companies can ‘try before you buy’ with a pilot to test the software capabilities and suitability before a commitment is made.

Additionally, platform upgrades and regular new feature releases are generally a part of the ongoing subscription as opposed to stagnant systems that quickly become outdated with long development cycles that can’t don’t keep up with the needs of the organisation.

With the verticalisation of SaaS solutions added to the mix, companies benefit from specialised solutions which are bespoke for their industry and whose model is for continual improvement.

Whilst the SaaS model affords end users the freedom of no lengthy three-to-five year contracts, they still have the flexibility to scale as needed making work that was previously impossible to do digitally, now commonplace.

World leading security and stability are the standard

Objections for using third party vendors to provision in-house solutions, can be those of security, confidentiality, data integrity and compliance.

Most SaaS platforms have achieved a high level of enterprise sophistication and developed the necessary integration, security and compliance capabilities to be considered IT-ready for even the most compliance-heavy industries.

The service providers of the platforms are, themselves, largely responsible for app security, availability and performance with active monitoring, encryption and disaster recovery all part of the application architecture.

As with any disruption, new processes and remits emerge for those affected. So whilst central IT teams relinquish some control to the technology provider, they maintain oversight and referee choices between different solutions based on their ability to meet a given set of parameters.

This collaboration means that departments are not forced to adopt a shadow-IT approach where they silently adopt their own technology stacks which are not supported, distancing themselves from central IT.

Internal endorsement, external support

Procurement, IT and department heads are working together to choose and integrate SaaS so that end users can benefit from the innovation and flexibility of new technology solutions that enable them to keep pace with changing client needs and remain competitive.

To a certain extent, SaaS has commoditised many platforms, reducing the cost and the associated barrier to adoption. Companies can make high-impact changes simply by subscribing to a cloud-based service that’s supported by a tech team at a separate company whilst being endorsed by their internal IT department.