The ghost town of SaaS customer service

SaaS leaves customer service flatEveryone loves Software as a Service (SaaS) these days. It saves money, it simplifies deployment, and it does an end-around the legendary bureaucracy and obstinance of IT. As some would paint it, SaaS should be able to eat the world and leave the average IT department looking like an underfunded ghost town.

The ghost town

But instead, the ghost town is often the SaaS customer service department simply because the model calls for scaling to thousands or millions of customers without a corresponding rise in infrastructure. That’s the SaaS promise…one platform that everyone uses in similar fashion, obviating the need for high-cost, high-touch customer service. If only it really worked that way.

It simply doesn’t work that way. In the real world, cloud-based systems have many moving parts and are distributed across geographies and partnerships. Getting to the heart of a problem can often be harder than in the days of highly-tested on-premise software. A process approach to customer service went out the window a while ago.

We’ve gotten cheaper, but have we gotten better?

Automation to the rescue

Some have gotten better. Smart companies are looking to automate both the customer service troubleshooting and notifications of service outages as a way to ‘stay inside’ the SaaS economic model.

Help has arrived…just yesterday, VMWare announced their vCenter Log Insight on the same day that TIBCO released IRIS. Both of these products deliver automated log management that allows for aggregation, analysis and search of log data, the files generated by applications and networks as they run. This operational intelligence also acts as a troubleshooting knowledge database that constantly improves an organization’s ability to quickly spot and fix problems in the moment.

This log data is truly big data in many cases and the solutions have to be better than opening a log file Notepad and doing a string search. Try doing that across multiple log files simultaneously and you start to see the problem this software solves.

Addressing security as well

Log data automation solutions also address another persistent issue with SaaS software: Security. The complexity behind the curtain of cloud presents a remarkable challenge for preventing unauthorized access and Denial of Service attacks. Only automation that spots these events in milliseconds can reassure businesses that are heavily regulated or under the gun for personal privacy.

For more enterprises to trust in cloud as part of a hybrid computing environment, solutions like these will need to come to the market quickly. Getting the biggest enterprises into the cloud isn’t necessarily cost, but is also a risk model that SaaS hasn’t fully addressed to date. Mission critical applications won’t go to an insecure cloud. 

It’s a safe bet that there will be a fast rise in software that gives the cloud security and reliability.

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Categories: Cloud / SaaS / PaaS, Data Analytics / Big Data

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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2 Comments on “The ghost town of SaaS customer service”

  1. June 13, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    The fact that TIBCO Iris came out at the same time VMWare made it’s announcement would certainly validate the need for specialized solutions within this space. There has definitely been a reliance on application developers and support engineers to “do it yourself”. TIBCO Iris is designed to quickly enable application and support engineers to get their troubleshooting done quickly; ensuring everyone on the team has the same possibility of success. For further info, I would recommend http://www.tibco.com/iris

    • June 13, 2013 at 7:34 am #

      Absolutely. This is an excellent emerging market…’fixing’ the shortcomings of changing architectures.

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