Digital Reinvention

Moment of Truth – SaaS is on us! but what to look for in your vendor…

What is Software as a service (SasS) – It is a cloud-based application accessed through the web or an API. It helps clients stay ahead of competition through cognitive analytics, innovative business processes, and better customer experiences.

The moment of truth is most definitely, Software as a service. With organizations leveraging digital technologies to help them transform, they are looking for better technology models that will not only help reduce Capex but also help them experiment and evolve as they venture deep into the path of digital transformation. Advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning (ML) and Quantum Computing (QC) are rapidly redefining the capabilities within everyday applications and helping companies leapfrog their larger competitors and disrupt their industry. What more can one ask for, when all of these are available on a pay-per-use and an Opex model with in-built agility.

But, organizations must exercise caution when selecting a SaaS vendor, the selection criteria goes beyond technology. While SaaS has become the default mode for business applications, the business transformation is not driven entirely by a software application. It’s simply a tool in the toolbox. Those organizations thinking of SaaS, should also look beyond the application and consider vendor credentials. The question that organizations should ask themselves before selecting a SaaS vendor, is not just software considerations but goes beyond –

Here are five non-software considerations one should use when evaluating SaaS:

1. Industry. Does the vendor possess the domain expertise, depth of staff, and vision that shows they are credible and current within your industry? It’s certainly useful to have diverse set of skills. But applying that to highly regulated sectors — finance, airlines or insurance — requires real depth. If you are speaking to a SaaS vendor and you find yourself talking with the same “industry expert” meeting after meeting, that’s a sign he/she is the only domain expert that vendor has available. What happens when they depart the firm? Who carries the product vision after that?

2. Consulting Services. Does the vendor have a bench of consultants and business partners to train your staff, adapt your process, and support your unique business demands? We are in the midst of a widespread skill shortage and widening skills gaps in IT. While SaaS does not put the same burdens on your internal IT resources, you might still find yourself struggling for outside support during on-boarding, data transfer and integration with existing applications.

3. Thought Leadership. Does the vendor have patents and specialists who are leading in the fields of engineering, security and privacy? Thought leaders are those who inspire and offer innovative product ideas for today and the future. These leaders are the ones that translate macro changes in business, technology, and government regulations into new features — all delivered through SaaS. If you’re like everyone else, you’ll be concerned with security and privacy so it’s vital you ask your SaaS vendor if they have a fully dedicated Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). In 2017, only 65 percent of organizations had filled the CISO role. That’s why you need to ask your SaaS vendor who wears that hat (and be sure they do it full-time!).

4. Financial Viability. Do you have a plan for when your SaaS vendor goes out of business? Hopefully, you’ll never need one. But you should ask the vendor about ownership, debt and business continuity. The danger that your SaaS provider could go out of business is real. Take a close look at SaaS vendors who don’t invest or own their own data centre or hardware but instead ‘rent’ from third -party cloud providers.

5. Security. Security is often the soft spot of SaaS solutions. Trusting vendor’s platform and data centre requires careful consideration. Questions you should ask are how to trust your data on a third party platform, how will data travel, what security measures the vendor takes, the physical security measures, disaster management solutions and most importantly, compliance to GDPR.

For those looking to find more innovation and value from SaaS, it will require more rigor than looking at software.

Cloud Portfolio and Watson IoT Marketing Leader - India/SA

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