Eight Insights on the True Value of SaaS
Cloud computing and SaaS bring so much more to the table than simple outsourcing.
Earlier this week I shared some fine advice from Forrester Research Analyst Liz Herbert for putting strategy into SaaS purchases. The overarching theme is for IT professionals to help educate business users about software-as-a-service (SaaS). The idea is to encourage business people buying SaaS applications to do so with the company's best interests, not just their departmental interests, in mind.
It occurred to me a day or so later (sadly that's how slowly my mind works, especially when I am on cold medication) that a simpler and more effective way of doing this might be for IT organizations to open their own app stores, an idea touted by IT Business Edge's Mike Vizard. Lots of software vendors and services providers have launched online application stores, he pointed out. While that's great for those companies, it's not so great for IT organizations or for business users who'd probably prefer a more convenient "one-stop-shopping" experience. But if IT created an organizational app store, Vizard wrote:
That approach would bring all the benefits of online software distribution to the organization without having to sequentially visit a series of online stores. And best of all, the IT organization would have control over what wares were actually stocked in the store.
It's the proverbial (and cliche) win-win. Users get a choice of options instead of an IT organization selecting their applications for them, in a self-service environment. IT organizations can ensure all of the apps in the store meet the organization's security and integration needs. I don't think most business units began buying software because they wanted to "enjoy"the experience of haggling with vendors. I think they did it because they got tired of haggling with their IT organizations.
IT organizations can even leverage the same technologies vendors already use to build their stores, Vizard wrote. The example he offered was Partnerpedia, a provider of online e-commerce and community software that gives customers the ability to white label its software. An IT organization could build its own virtual store and stock it by linking back to any approved software vendor they chose, Sam Liu, Partnerpedia's VP of marketing, told Vizard. Wrote Vizard:
All the IT organization really has to control is the dashboard. The backend transaction processing can still be handled by the vendors. Whoever decides what goes into the store effectively controls the transactions.