The issue at most organizations today is this, consumer software solutions are outpacing enterprise software solutions. This issue manifests itself in every aspect of IT life today.
Consider this paradox:
- Traditional IT software – the less frequently you update the software the more reliable and better the user experience is
- Consumer software – the more frequently you update the software the more reliable and better the user experience is
Consumerization is being driven by the fact that consumer capabilities are surpassing that of enterprise IT. Enterprise IT is in a difficult position supporting 100’s or 1000’s of applications while on the consumer side devices and solutions are evolving quickly. Consumers have in the last few years become accustomed to finding their own IT solutions and the consensus among analysts is that this trend, which is already underway, will force significant changes in businesses (not just IT) all over the world.
Many articles before me have talked about SaaS benefits in terms of $dollars$…lower cost, pay as you go, reduced application management expense, etc. I think the value is even more basic than just a financial one.
SaaS applications are better applications. Why are they better? In a word, velocity. Traditional Enterprise IT software is slow. Consider a typical new product feature that has to go through these phases:
- Product / feature conception
- Product / feature development
- Product / feature release
- Customer deployment of product / feature
- Support bugs & product / feature enhancements
Even after a product is made available for release most customers won’t upgrade for at least a few months and in some cases will wait for the next version of a product (example: version 3) to release before upgrading the the previous one (version 2). Ask any product architect or product manager how long it take for minor and major enhancements to make it from conception to customer adoption and I think you’d find that most people are deploying software conceived at least 3-5 years ago, which is an eternity in the technology space.
SaaS reduces risk for the software manufacturer and customer while increasing the vendor’s ability to be responsiveness to customer demands. The result is usually a shorter product release cycle and therefore increased product velocity. This rapid cycles allows SaaS vendors to make riskier decisions about their product because course corrections can be applied quickly to the product and existing customer base.
All this said traditional Enterprise IT has only begun to understand the value of SaaS solutions. Enterprise IT has been slow to adopt hosted solutions, uneducated on the security and authentication models of SaaS solutions, and scared away by the constant barrage of threats they see making the news each day…then again, it’s these things that keep me well-employed. SaaS FTW.