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April 1, 2008

What it Takes to Succeed in SaaS

Filed under: EAI — Alena Semeshko @ 10:30 pm

Jeff Kaplan in his recent post examines what it really means to be SaaSy. He quite reasonably draws a distinct line between the market leaders and SaaS wannabes by signling out seven things that SaaS companies should really look into adopting if they want a chance to succeed :

  • Networked applications – One of the primary drivers of the SaaS movement is the need for increasingly mobile workers and geographically dispersed customers/partners to share information and collaborate with one another more effectively. Web-native applications which leverage wide-area networks (WAN) are better suited to fulfill this need than the highly centralized, on-premise applications of the past.
  • Enhanced user experience – Another key driver of SaaS is user frustration with the cumbersome, inflexible nature of legacy applications. These on-premise apps were generally designed to accommodate the technical demands of data center systems and corporate databases rather than appeal to the real-world workflows of businesses and intuitive senses of end-users.
  • Variable pricing – Corporate decision-makers are also fed up with the capital investments and significant risks associated with legacy apps. They no longer want to be locked into perpetual licenses and escalating maintenance agreements. Having the opportunity to try software solutions before they buy them, and then being able to use their operating budget to acquire the software functionality they need as they need it is especially appealing in today’s recessionary environment.
  • Real-time analytics – Given the economic climate and intensifying competitive landscape, companies of all sizes need to generate greater intelligence from their applications. It is for this reason that analytics is becoming an increasingly important feature in nearly every type of enterprise SaaS application, rather than just an assortment of standalone business intelligence SaaS solutions.
  • Continuous enhancements – We are also living in a time in which the rate of change is accelerating and customers expect their vendors to respond to their constantly changing needs. Therefore, leading SaaS solutions are those which rely on agile development techniques to incrementally improve their solutions on a continuous basis rather than depending on long development cycles to roll out disruptive ‘upgrades’ to their legacy applications.
  • Self-provisioned, dynamic toolkits – Corporate end-users are also becoming more tech savvy and more willing to take advantage of a rapidly expanding reservoir of gadgets, widgets and other mash-up devices to solve business problems or achieve their corporate objectives without the help of internal developers or outside consultants.
  • Aggregated data & benchmark studies – Smart SaaS companies are beginning to recognize that the SaaS model gives them unprecedented insight into their customers’ operations based on their SaaS usage patterns. These SaaS companies are accumulating activity data which can be converted into valuable benchmark statistics and best-practice studies. This puts the SaaS company in an advantageous position to provide a new level of value to their customers that gives them an opportunity to transform their user base into a powerful ‘club’ where users get insight in addition to software functionality.

March 25, 2008

SaaS is in the Air.

Filed under: EAI — Tags: — Alena Semeshko @ 9:31 am

I stumbled upon this article in NetworkWorld discussing the increasing adoption of Software as a Service practices all over the industry.

It states that the recent “Forrester survey of more than 1,000 IT decision-makers in North America and Europe found that 16% of enterprises had adopted SaaS as of 2007 – an increase from 12% the previous year but still a small minority.”

The article goes on saying that the “actual enterprise adoption of SaaS might be much higher, though, because business units often deploy hosted applications on their own, sometimes seeing it as a way to free themselves from relying on IT.”

The number of IT executives who have at least some interest in hosted software indicate to Herbert that IT involvement in SaaS projects is poised for a big increase.

The hosted software market is growing more mature, with extensive customization and integration into an enterprise’s internal systems. And whereas SaaS applications are typically for general business tasks like human resources, there are now hosted applications designed specifically to help IT staffers manage an enterprise’s technology.

The article is available over here.

March 3, 2008

Less = simple?

Filed under: Data Integration, EAI — Tags: , , — Alena Semeshko @ 5:28 am

Scott Davis has recently blogged on the idea that reduction does not necessarily mean simplification. As an example, her used his son’s physics class, where kids were more comfi with a loger formula than with its shorter equivalent. It was easier for kids to comprehend and intuitively solve the longer formula as “each equation component was visible and was easy to relate to each of the respective forces at play”. Scott goes on discussing this issue by taking it into today’s business world.

“We try to boil down lots of unique moving parts of the Strategy Gameboard into a single pithy Vision Statement — and then, we’re surprised when employees feel no connection with it. Or, we try to homogenize data and reporting from the variety of functional areas around the business into an non-descript blob of a common-denominator centralized Business Intelligence program — and then, we’re surprised when departmental analysts keep using their own stuff.”

You know…when I was in high school I always prefered shorter and simpler equations. It was much easier for me to just memorize a few things and forget about the lengthy process of figuring what goes where each time you have to solve something in Physics or Chemistry class. To me it was way easier to make a mistake when solving extended equations.

Now, I understand, not everyone’s like me and some people are more comfi with taking their time, getting to the root of everything. Maybe. Although in the words of business, particularly the constantly on-the-move business today, that’s not at all the best approach. What use are employees that take twice longer than others to complete a task? They might be as professional and skilled as others, but… let’s face it, we live in a rapidly progressing competitive world. To succeed in this world, or at least to secure your place, you’ve got to work and think fast.

Same goes for software. If earlier software programs were designed to address specific needs and run independently, today the market for packaged enterprise applications is exploding, creating an emmediate need for integrating multiple independently developed and heterogeneous applications. Simplification, integration, reduction of aplications running.

Same goes for data. Enterprises today tend to replace their passive reports and charts with active business platform based on adaptive IT architectures. For better or worse, business intelligence tools enhance business communication across enterprises, coordinate resources, and enable companies to interact more quickly in our ever-changing world.

This “reduction”, which is more of progression and interconnection actually, is not seen as negative. Quite the contrary - it’s critical to today’s businesses

The use of business intelligence software has now assumed a high profile in many organisations, says the research, with 66% of senior managers seeing it as “very critical” or “critical” to their decision making.

This positive approach is reflected in the fact that 67% of organisations plan to extend the scope of their data warehousing activities to new functional areas, while 64% will be further exploiting their existing information.

Well, the numbers speak for themselves =).

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