Posted by: Greg Ness | September 26, 2012

A SciQuest Perspective on SaaS

Recently I had the opportunity to meet Max Leisten, market director at SciQuest via email. So I fired a few questions his way about SaaS and thought I would share his answers.  I don’t typically publish interviews, but I think SaaS is a very hot trend looking forward into the accelerated evolution of cloud computing and thought that Max did a great job of covering the bases.

1) What are the top three drivers of SaaS adoption?

One of the main drivers behind the push to the cloud and SaaS is financial – SaaS is a cost-effective alternative to on-premise solutions. Overall, SaaS solutions are less expensive to implement and maintain.

Another driver with SaaS products is that upgrades and new features are automatically pushed out to all users. As a result, users have access to rapid innovation almost in real-time. Unlike the traditional software model, customers do not have to purchase a new version every year to take advantage of new features and benefits. This process has also helped foster innovation – with SaaS providers offering more new features and upgrades more frequently.

The third top driver for SaaS is ease of use and adoption. SaaS providers offer customer support as well as routine updates. For example, at SciQuest we have a “buddy” system where each product development engineer is assigned a customer support representative who articulates the customer’s needs, concerns and goals throughout the entire process. We also provide our customers with feedback on the ways they can achieve more value from our system and make recommendations on existing features that they might not be using to their full potential.

2) Will the rise of private and public cloud operating models impact SaaS?

Overall, the emergence of the cloud and its increasing popularity benefits SaaS computing. There’s much greater awareness of the value of the SaaS model when compared to the traditional on-premise model. I believe that cloud computing and SaaS solutions have a symbiotic relationship.

However, private cloud organizations still have to grapple with how they update their software, so you don’t have the benefits of automatic software updates that SaaS solutions provide. Public and private clouds, however, may be more economical than traditional software.

3) What do you see as the three biggest opportunities for SaaS looking forward five-ten years?

1. Mobile – I anticipate that there will be more mobile applications that are delivered through the cloud. More of us are using devices at work such as smart phones and tablets. Employees are expecting that they will have the same user experience on mobile devices and that they will be able to access work/enterprise applications from all of their devices. Areas that were previously considered sensitive such as contract management will move to the cloud and will be accessible from mobile devices. The last bastions of traditional, on-premise software are starting to break down.

2. The barriers to SaaS adoption are also beginning to erode with more solutions being offered via the cloud and as SaaS applications. However, in this environment, it’s critical to research your options before implementing a new technology. It’s more important than ever to know who you’re doing business with – their background and expertise – and whether the solutions will work in your existing IT environment. Which brings us to the third opportunity – integration.

3. Integration – The ability for systems to communicate and work in harmony is vital. Many organizations may have less IT staff available to help coordinate various programs and applications. Your partners and/or solutions providers may be tasked with implementing their solutions and ensuring that disparate systems can exchange information in a secure and timely manner.

4) Is enterprise IT in the process of moving from being hardware-centric to software-centric?  Why?

Absolutely. Here at SciQuest, we’re shifting to an almost exclusively software-support model using cloud-based services like Salesforce. As more organizations shift applications to the cloud and adopt SaaS-based solutions, IT’s role is also shifting away from hardware. Enterprises are looking to IT to help them gain a deeper understanding of cloud and SaaS-based applications. Today’s IT department is moving away from having to support hardware to helping its organizations make decisions about what solutions to purchase providing insights on whether various solutions support regulatory guidelines, meet certain security protocols and are compatible with other solutions.

Thanks Max for taking the time to exchange emails so that Archimedius readers can stay caught up with the ever-evolving cloud.

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