Software as a Service: Conceptual No-Brainer or Practical Head-Scratcher?
Software As A Service (or SAAS) is a really interesting concept that has bullet-proof benefits! How can we argue against loads of companies sharing the cost of powerful processors and expensive skills? Add in the prospect of utilising this investment on a 24/7 basis, and the concept is simply magnetic.
IT and Business in SA have three challenges to overcome:
- Many companies still have a mental block against storing their data ‘off-site’. This is actually absurd, because SAAS service providers make a living protecting other peoples’ information. Nearly every company in SA who owns software and data specialises in everything BUT… yet they want company data to be kept in their own office somewhere. Perhaps this follows from the tendency in SA to buck global trends related to outsourcing the development and support of software and technology.
- The second challenge is that SAAS is not well understood. It is relatively new (in SA) both as a technology and as a solution. SAAS has many aspects, and the solution is not a zero-sum game. There are multiple entry points for providing SAAS solutions, and much associated jargon. But no-one invests in, or buys anything that they do not understand!
- A perfect SAAS solution takes a fair amount of investment. Investors need the confidence that they will get a return i.e. in this case that SAAS will sell well in SA, providing a return to companies offering the service. There will not be investment into local SAAS providers until the first two points are addressed. Right now, the only true-blood top-to-toe SAAS solutions appear to be offered by very large global players.
We as a Software and related services business can see immense benefit in SAAS. If the cost of owning (shared) infrastructure and software comes down, the demand for business software will only go up.
I am no SAAS expert. But like everyone else, I base my assumptions on what I see, hear, and read on my travels in the IT industry in SA.