Remaining nimble and flexible is key to success for small and medium enterprises. The leaders of small and medium enterprises are under constant pressure to continually deliver operational and financial improvements.
The need to constantly improve, grow, compete and ensure compliance with constrained resources (i.e. time, money, staff, technology) is compelling the leaders of small and medium enterprises to explore technologies that will help them adapt and adjust quickly to rapidly evolving business and market conditions. Consequently software-as-a-service (SaaS), given its rapid deployment and instant consumption model, is gaining increasing prominence within this group. SaaS is increasingly becoming known in industry circles as the scalable business resource, not requiring any of the capital expenditure that is associated with traditional on-premise software.
The Business Value That Small and Medium Enterprises Can Derive From SaaS Solutions
Time to Value
SaaS offers rapid deployment/quick implementation, greatly engendering instant consumption. Rather than the lengthy implementation cycles (sometimes as long as 6-12 months) that are synonymous with traditional “onpremise” software, SaaS solutions can be deployed and adapted to fit specific business needs in a matter of weeks. Shorter implementation cycles lead to a shorter payback period, which results in quicker return on investment.
SaaS solutions are usually acquired, utilized and paid for on a monthly basis or on a per-transaction basis. Therefore, SaaS solutions pose less of a financial hurdle than traditional “on-premise” software. Companies no longer have to incur outlay of large capital expenditures for purchasing software. Given the subscription nature of SaaS solutions, small and medium enterprises can make more judicious use of their limited capital budgets by investing in core business areas to drive growth.
Consumers of SaaS solutions benefit from the frequent software upgrades delivered by the vendor. Given the multi-tenant nature of SaaS solutions (i.e. shared infrastructure, single code base across tenants), any new enhancement delivered by the vendor instantly becomes available to all tenants. Tenants no longer have to worry about paying for annual maintenance upgrades. Also, the onus of ensuring that the upgrades are delivered in a non-intrusive and non-disruptive manner falls on the SaaS vendors; the users of the SaaS solution do not need to be concerned whether the upgrades will cause any break in the existing software.
The providers of SaaS solutions have made it relatively easy for the business users to customize SaaS applications via simple dragand- drop operations. Business users no longer have to depend on or wait for IT resources to change the look and feel of applications. Furthermore, business users who are subject matter experts within their respective domains can now quickly adapt business processes through simple, intuitive and easyto- use wizard-laden interfaces. No programming expertise is required to customize/modify SaaS solutions. SaaS has actually democratized enterprise applications by making them more business user
friendly, significantly reducing overreliance on IT resources.
By adopting open and flexible service- oriented frameworks, SaaS providers have ensured that orchestration of business processes between “on-premise” systems
and “on-demand” SaaS solutions can be easily facilitated via Web Services technology. In addition, there are other options currently available that foster seamless integration between “on-premise” and “in the cloud” systems. The first of these options is a Webbased SaaS integrator which enables “point and click” connectivity between “on-premise” and “in the cloud” systems for a monthly subscription fee. No install of any software packages or hardware is required in this case. The second option, SaaS integration appliances, allow users to establish connectivity between “on-premise” and “in the cloud” systems through simple configuration options (without any coding) by utilizing pre-configured/ pre-built templates. The third option, SaaS Systems Integrators, specialize in enabling complex integrations between SaaS and “on-premise” systems. Given the afore mentioned choices, the SaaS integration challenge seems to have been fully addressed.
Fewer Technical Resources
Since the SaaS solution provider is responsible for managing the software and ensuring delivery of the service, the consumers of the service no longer have to rely on large teams of in-house IT resources for maintaining, upgrading and modifying the software. Consequently, fewer technical resources are required since the users of the SaaS solution can now access state-of-the-art technologies and cutting-edge solutions through the SaaS solution provider. This is an enormous advantage for small and medium businesses since they can allocate their limited capital budgets to strategic initiatives that drive growth in their core business focus areas.
In summary, SaaS enables smaller and mid-sized firms to manage growth, regulatory compliance and competition without also dealing with a variety of challenges relating to information technology. SaaS is more easily affordable, immediate in its impact, and provides modular functionality in a way that is easy to extend and change, and easy to integrate with other systems.
About Amit Manghani
Sr SaaS Product & Solution Manager at SAP
Amit Manghani is the Senior Solution Manager for Data Quality Management (DQM) for Enterprise Applications at SAP, focussing on driving data quality initiatives within Cloud Solutions.
Over the past 2.5 years, Amit has been involved with the OnDemand group at SAP in different capacities. Initially as part of the “OnDemand” team, Amit worked in the capacity of a Product Manager driving the evolution of Business Application OnDemand platform and last year he lead the Business Modeling and pricing initiative for the next generation of the Business Intelligence OnDemand offering.