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Remember CRT monitors? Brick-sized mobile phones? What about buying hundreds of software licences? Technology moves fast and the current front-runner in office innovation, shunting clunky traditional software setups into the past, is SaaS.
The growth of Software as a Service (SaaS) is making the purchase of software licences a thing of the past for businesses the world over, relegating things like Microsoft Word to the IT graveyard, along with those enormous Nokia handsets of old.
The unstoppable force known as SaaS is the software licensing and delivery model that has become prevalent over the past five years so thanks to huge uptake of cloud computing. SaaS tends to use a subscription payment model, but the crucial difference is the fact that it is centrally-hosted software, making it much easier to provide access to new users with no need to do a physical install on each individual machine.
It’s this convenience and ease of deployment that’s driven much of the huge growth you might have noticed in the SaaS market. Data released by Gartner in 2015 found that SaaS, hosted license, on-premises subscriptions and open source software consumption models are now accounting for more than 50 per cent of new software implementations, suggesting that the old school 'on-premises' licence approach is dying out.
However, you will perhaps have seen that it isn't necessarily companies' IT departments who are driving the shift towards SaaS. The variety and accessibility of these programmes mean that different departments are coming across potential solutions in their day-to-day work and taking these options for change to management themselves.
If you work in finance you must have come across Xero recently, a hugely popular piece of accounting software that has helped streamline workload for many businesses. Other pieces of software, such as Mailchimp on the marketing side or Basecamp for project management, have started to transform the way people do business; they're well designed, easily accessed and offer excellent solutions to common business problems.
But the real poster-child of SaaS, as if you hadn't guessed already, is of course Salesforce; an incredibly powerful piece of CRM and sales automation software, which has established itself as a new industry standard thanks to the ease of use and, inherent in SaaS, the ability to quickly add in new team members or remove them as needed, removing some of the risk and costs associated with growth.
Have you noticed that even the big guys, the giants you might think are untouchable, are adjusting their business model to get involved in SaaS, such is the potential for disruption? Microsoft, for example, launched Office 365 in competition to Google's apps for business in order to offer users the power of their Office suite but with the flexibility and ease of access that comes with SaaS.
SaaS almost looks too good to be true. Software you can access from anywhere; none of the hassle associated with traditional installs or maintenance, oh, and an attractive subscription-based pricing package to boot! But there is one potential pitfall, and it's a biggy: nothing works without the internet.
If you're accessing everything from one central location rather than using software hosted on your machine, you really do need to be able to get to that central location! If you can't, businesses risk losing hours of productivity from their staff, and, if you're using SaaS for business-critical processes, there's no telling how bad the damage could be.
With this in mind, it's critical to check out things with your ISP. Does your provider offer service level agreements (SLAs)? Will you be receiving 24/7 support if you need it? If you are using SaaS for something business-critical then it is especially important to invest in a back-up internet connection as a fail-safe should things go wrong with your primary connection.
There's no denying that with no internet, a SaaS-based office is in real trouble. But so long as you get serious about your internet connection, the benefits of SaaS are clear to see and well worth looking into.