Your business is already benefitting from the cloud and the SaaS (Software as a Service) offerings it enables. It could probably be benefitting more
Much like the meteorological phenomenon, it’s named after, there’s something fuzzy about the cloud. Many people don’t differentiate between ‘the Internet’ and ‘the cloud’. Even more tech-savvy individuals – who are aware it’s the cloud that allows them to check their emails, take part in video conferences, and access the file with last quarter’s sales figures at any time, in (almost) any location and on whatever device that’s to hand – usually have little idea of how cloud computing works.
In the interest of helping you select the right (cloud-based) SaaS providers for your business, let me cover the basics.
A brief history of the cloud
If you’re over 30, you may remember what life was like in an ‘on-premises software’ world where the delivery mechanism for software was a cartridge, disk or CD-ROM.
Want to play Frogger, Wizball, Call of Duty or Gran Turismo? You better be sitting in front of your Atari, Commodore 64, Xbox, or PlayStation console.
At home waiting for the plumber when you realise you need to review a PowerPoint presentation before a customer call? You’ll need to cancel the plumber and head into the office to pull up the presentation on your desktop computer.
Circa 2006, cloud computing started taking off. Software, data, and processing power progressively floated off into the cyber-ether, allowing it to be accessed far more conveniently and cheaply.
The cloud represented a step change, as detailed in countless online articles (see here, here, and here for some of my favourites). The game-changing selling points of the cloud for business owners and C-suiters are its ability to facilitate:
*Frictionless, real-time data exchange, and collaboration: You’re based in Sydney and need a colleague, customer, or supplier based in Singapore, Chicago or Guangzhou to sign off on some product blurbs you’ve written? Just cut and paste the blurbs into a Google Doc.
*Scalable capacity and resources: Cloud computing’s existence owes a lot to the entrepreneurial genius of Jeff Bezos. Bezos needed massive computer power at certain times, particularly Christmas, to keep Amazon ticking along but also found himself with a lot of unused capacity when business was quiet. Bezos created Amazon Web Services (AWS) and started renting out his spare computing capacity, the same way some people rent out their holiday home on Airbnb when they aren’t using it. Pretty soon, Google and Microsoft did something similar, and the ‘public cloud’ came into being. Thanks to Bezos and his imitators, businesses in general and SaaS providers, in particular, can rent an appropriate amount of computing power when they need it, which makes things cheaper and more efficient.
*Greater productivity: The cloud means your staff can work at any time and in any location. This is handy in the event of a global pandemic.
*Better cybersecurity: This seems counterintuitive but Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, and the SaaS businesses reliant on the clouds they provide, have both the incentive and resources to provide cutting-edge cybersecurity.
*Access to the latest and greatest tech: Those of a certain age may remember buying (Microsoft) Office 95, Office 97, Office 2003 or Office 2007 and being stuck with the version of Office that came out in 1995, 1997, 2003 or 2007 until choosing to, or being forced to, upgrade. The cloud encouraged software providers to switch to subscription-based models, which means:
i) Subscribers get software that is continually improving. If you started using MYOB in 2015, you’re not stuck using the 2015 version of MYOB; you have access to all the features and tools developed since then.
ii) The IT side of things is someone else’s problem. The SaaS provider handles any technical issues, not you or your IT department. Even better, the software provider is highly incentivised to get any issues fixed ASAP, which may not be the case with your IT team, especially if it is underresourced.
iii) You can try before you buy. Most SaaS companies offer free trials. Even if they don’t, you can take MYOB (or Xero, or Intuit QuickBooks, or Sage) for a test drive for the cost of a month-long subscription, rather than having to shell out big money upfront then hope for the best. (Because the SaaS provider is selling the same software to thousands, or in some cases millions, of other businesses, it won’t cost your business much to access it. And whatever subscription fee you do have to pay, it’s almost certainly far less than the cost of trying to do things in-house and embarking on an IT project that might not succeed.)
SaaS 1.0 vs SaaS 2.0
You can find the cloud’s origin story here. To cut a long story short, the cloud initially led to the creation of large ‘SaaS 1.0’ businesses. More recently, it facilitated the flowering of many niche ‘SaaS 2.0’ businesses. I’ve got a dog in this fight, so I’ll confine myself to quoting the origin story article:
‘First-generation’, or ‘SaaS 1.0’, businesses such as Salesforce, Workday, and Netsuite achieved great success targeting massive end markets like customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and human capital management… Over the last ten years, however, we have seen the emergence of a different, SaaS 2.0 profile… Most of these businesses provide highly tailored software for a specific set of vertical market customers rather than generic horizontal solutions for broad functional needs… SaaS 2.0 solutions generally deliver industry-specific data benchmarks, pre-defined metrics and KPIs, customised workflow, and industry-specific compliance capabilities. Software that embeds these capabilities tends to fit like a glove for a set of customers with invariably similar requirements.
Cloud-natives vs lifters-and-shifters
Many tech companies have been around for several decades. Yet the cloud and SaaS 1.0 businesses only began emerging a decade and a half ago, and SaaS 2.0 businesses a decade ago. That meant older tech businesses had to ‘lift and shift’ applications developed for on-premises software onto the cloud. In contrast, SaaS providers launched around 2010 are ‘cloud native’. That means their applications were designed with the cloud in mind from the get-go.
Identifying the best SaaS provider for your needs
There’s nothing wrong with being a SaaS 1.0 business that targets a broad market. Likewise, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with older SaaS providers ‘lifting and shifting’.
But there are trade-offs.
The software provided by SaaS 1.0 businesses is necessarily generic. That isn’t always an issue, but sometimes it can be.
The lifters and shifters are in roughly the same position as established car companies attempting to go electric. Toyota, Volkswagen, and Ford have all now released at least one electric vehicle. All those electric vehicles are perfectly serviceable, but are any of them in the same class as a Tesla? Have the engineers at Toyota, Volkswagen, and Ford been able to seamlessly shift from designing cars built around petrol engines to ones built around electric engines? When you’re starting with a blank piece of paper, rather than trying to adapt legacy applications, many more things are possible. As is the case with a Tesla, this typically results in superior UX (user experience).
What Eventhub offers
If you’re in the business of organising events or running a venue or team, you may like to check out Event Hub, a cloud-native, SaaS 2.0 business that hit its stride in 2018 and is now outperforming its competitors.
Event Hub uses cloud computing to connect hirers, agents, venues, guests and sponsors with a minimum of friction. Event Hub has partnered with the following sporting bodies, venues and companies: The NRL, the Sydney Kings, the Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne United, Cricket Victoria, the Parramatta Eels, the Canberra Raiders, the Canberra Brumbies, the Waratahs, the Western Sydney Warriors, the SCG, Alliance Stadium, Accor Stadium, Qudos Bank Arena, CommBank Stadium, McDonald Jones Stadium, ICC Sydney, Optus Stadium, GIO Stadium Canberra, Telstra, DHL, CUB, Coke, Accor and Venues NSW.
Book here now to experience what Event Hub has to offer.