Looking back ten years ago, who would have thought that cloud technologies like Software as a Service would be so prolific and offer so much value to small and medium-sized organizations? I was skeptical at the outset: Who would store their data outside their organization? How could you get the features you are used to? Over time cloud capabilities have matured, and I am continually amazed at the value cloud technologies like Software as a Service (SaaS) offer to small and medium-sized organizations.
Software as a Service Adoption
Every organization has technology systems used to support or perform several business functions. As the small and medium-size organization grows, so do the number of systems and their integration requirements. Toward 2010, organizations began adopting a CRM tool called Salesforce as their first cloud system. Almost unaware of what would start to happen. The most significant transition to the cloud would happen with the most common business system: email and calendaring. Once the company-wide adoption of using email in the cloud was successful, nearly every on-premises system was vulnerable to the transition. The typical early SaaS adoptions for small to medium organizations were CRM and Email. These have been followed by document storage, Finance, HR/Employee, Contracts, and even business-specific systems like Point of Sale, etc. In many cases, businesses made these transitions to the cloud when licenses expired or when hardware became unsupported. Many organizations are now planning to be entirely in the cloud, something unheard of just ten years ago.
What are the Benefits of Software as a Service for Business?
Surprisingly, listing all of the benefits of Software as a Service offerings can be very long. Early on, the significant benefits are:
No hardware required – Gone are the days of ordering new servers and replacing failed hard drives
Simplified management and configuration capabilities – Gone are the days of using scripting, advanced tabs, and multi-server configurations
Significantly increased availability and backup/recovery capabilities – Finally, the days of watching backups fail, end with warnings, or fail to restore are finally behind us
Automatic enhancements/upgrades – Gone are the days of monthly patches and major annual updates.
More recently, new benefits have emerged:
- Enhanced security and controls – Single Sign-on support, two-factor authentication, and security devices and controls that smaller businesses could not afford.
- Enhanced Mobile experience – Ability to perform most or all tasks on numerous devices (Note: This would have likely been features of on-prem applications sooner or later, but cloud brought this to the forefront much faster).
- Integrations with other cloud technologies – Email cloud-connected to your CRM cloud-connected to your ERP cloud. Data entered once and utilized by various cloud systems.
- Maturity within the application, configurations, and automation – Less time spent deploying and testing every configuration by providers means more time spent innovating.
- Expanded offerings and modules – Same as above.
- Shorter configuration and implementation time – Pre-built configurations and automation capabilities enable businesses to begin working and utilizing SaaS capabilities almost right away.
With today’s SaaS offerings, a small to medium-size business can quickly gain access to capabilities that used to be only available to the large enterprise.
Key Takeaways for Your Business
Most of the early benefits were aimed at reducing hardware, administration activities, and more recent innovations that have been more focused on business operations. In my opinion, the jury is in, and the verdict is unanimous: The benefits of using SaaS are enormous, and every business must have a cloud-first approach when looking to use technologies and systems to run their operation.