The irony, cost and process hell of Software as a Service

Woe unto you if you don’t think through your decisions to buy and use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

That’s right…woe unto you. As more and more organizations use SaaS applications (in 2011, Forrester projected 18 by 2013 and said we were at 9.6 by Fall 2012), the complexity of integrating all of those silo’d applications is rising as fast as the Mississippi River in a rainy Spring. Common SaaS applications already in use are CRM, marketing, email, file storage/sharing, and social media/collaboration.

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 6.40.59 AM

The irony of low cost

bag of moneyThe irony is that most organizations adopt SaaS applications to gain flexibility and lower operational costs. Doing that without thinking through the integration requirements will put many an organization in a very difficult place that will ultimately cost more and give less flexibility than expected. While IT’s mandate has always been to think organization-wide, the decision to go with SaaS is often made at a departmental or divisional level where the immediate benefits seem high and the cost invisible (for now).

SaaS, done poorly, costs more.

Shadow IT

shadow figureAdding to the complication is the fact that business leaders, not IT, are the ones making the decisions to buy and then manage their SaaS applications. These leaders have never been responsible for integration of data and rightfully deserve the moniker, “Shadow IT.” Too often, IT is asked to fix the problem they warned against in the first place. This quickly becomes a mess of finger pointing and “I told you so.”

SaaS, managed poorly, is painful.

Process nightmare

SaaS-created hellIf the irony of cost and I told you so weren’t enough, there’s a third problem that ends up just as ugly as the first two. Business processes rely on data that typically came primarily from internal systems. SaaS applications present a potential ‘blind spot’ for process-driving data. With the rise of Mobile, Social and Big Data, the disruption to the flow of key process data is significant.

SaaS, without integration, creates process hell.

iPaaS to the rescue

If the story ended there, it would be downright depressing. But we still wouldn’t stop buying and using SaaS, would we…the business, long tired of waiting years for new applications and months for updates, would never go back to those dark ages. The truth of the matter is this is IT’s problem to solve and it won’t get better until they realize that (a kind of Step 1 of their own 12-step program).

Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) is a result of this very dilemma. It is what Garter calls, “Moving integration to the cloud”:

Integration platform as a service enables implementation of application, process, service and data integration, and the relevant governance, “in the cloud.” Coexistence and federation of iPaaS offerings with on-premises integration and governance platforms will be the norm for large organizations.

This isn’t an add-on sale like getting the plush floor mats with your new car. iPaaS is a cornerstone capability for organizations that want to be ready for the next generation of business. Without it, not only will you lose the value of the SaaS you already have, but you’ll also be left unable to pivot quickly to the SaaS applications that are sure to get more powerful in the very near future.

IPaaS becomes your plug-and-play backend that enables cost savings, flexibility, business control and process management success.

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Categories: BPM, Cloud / SaaS / PaaS

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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One Comment on “The irony, cost and process hell of Software as a Service”

  1. June 28, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Chris,

    I meant to reply on this earlier when it was first posted. First, it is a shame that Software hasn’t always been a Service. Being able to finance the purchase of it doesn’t sufficiently define the shift that enterprise software requires. In your subsequent post of 6/26 you mentioned the CX. CX for enterprise software stinks, traditionally. The rise of ‘SaaS’ applications indicate the strong desire of Operations to gain the value they do not get with their legacy business applications, including the most recent version of market leading ERP, Best of Breed, etc. The reason the value is missing is because of the CX – through to implementation and on-going support. The entire model is broken and your blog identifies the risk.

    You raise the call for an iPaaS that can manage the many SaaS applications that business is anticipating. I think there is a shorter path that allows Operations to get exactly what they want and IT to get the single connection point to the legacy systems. If you look at the different acronyms: iPaaS, aPaaS & SaaS, IT and Operations should look to those vendors that offer all 3 in one. I worry that by continuing to promote layers, whose goal is to simplify each aspect you confuse the market with more acronyms and complicate your goal of simplification. History has taught us that.

    Which brings us to your point about CX related to enterprise software and why it is unfortunately novel to call software a service These systems are really expensive. So you have to build an army of internal support to even consider replacing what you’ve got. They require that you replace what you’ve got so that you are guaranteed disruptions and years long ‘roll-outs’ as various bastions of resistance to the system collapse. You spend 60% of your IT budget to roll out Accounting and Human Resources and have a number of projects struggle along with implementation and acceptance. IT even gets caught in the CX as it is now slave to a system that cannot change to meet the needs of Operations and fostering a non-cooperative relationship between the two.

    70% of the employees are in the job of working. They make, store, sell, ship, deliver, install and support all the products that make the world spin. An Enterprise Supply Chain Platform, similar to the one we’ve developed (http://babblewareinc.com) can be used by IT to align their budget investments into projects that deliver staggering value, 100% user adoption and the single point of control for iPaaS, aPaaS and SaaS. To change the CX even more, we bundle software and services as a service. This allows companies to use the service without a capital investment and pay for it only as long as it delivers value. You can immediately use Ready Made solutions, such as Collaborative Work Web (http://babblewareinc.com/inboundworkweb) or build custom solutions in a matter of hours with our side by side assistance or DIY.

    IT has a great inflection point with the Operations side…a relationship strained by years of legacy enterprise CX. I told you so isn’t a very good mind set when your legacy enterprise software choice, which Operations usually wasn’t in support of to begin with, and its horrible CX have put you both in this position. But the past is the past. Protect the legacy investments; allow them to do what they do and know what they know. Everything else that 70% of the workforce needs to do in response to ever changing compliance, regulations, performance standards, competition, markets, products, etc. are in the joint hands of Operations and IT. No finger pointing, low risk and investment only to capture value.

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