I start every day the same; I rise at 5:00 AM, make coffee, and retire to my office for exercise and meditation. It prepares me for the challenges of the day and sets my mood to 11 out of 10. But no matter how hard I prepare, I canít affect the road ahead of me. As I sit in morning traffic watching people host conference calls, text coworkers, or email clients I wonder if weíre all struggling with the same issues.

  • Everything we need is trapped on a device or laptop
  • We canít communicate effectively with our team
  • We canít communicate effectively with our customers
  • We wonít find the document or material we need in a timely manner
  • An application we need is failing

Software as a Service (SaaS) is the industryís attempt to offer options. The old solution came wrapped in a box loaded with margin to cover the costs associated with support, marketing, and shipping. Today SaaS comes loaded with tools, but lacks the complexity and hassle of setting up the needed support systems. Those are provided by the vendor, freeing you to spend more time on your solution. There are other things SaaS does well:

1. Set your information free

Data living on your laptop or mobile device is only useful if you can get it off the device and into the hands of your customer. Cloud services (such as email or storage) are an effective way to move a document from the device to the cloud or another human, but thatís only the first hop. How does it get into your platform for analysis? How do you move that contract from email to sold or placed in a report?

2. Answer the call for collaboration

When you need help, often times youíre already in a meeting or on the phone. Stepping out of a conference room or using network resources during a call may limit your reach. Team functions built into a platform make it more convenient to contact those in the office from the field. SaaS to the rescue. Imagine being able to request an update to a document via your SaaS environment. When your application facilitates communication between the users and teams, collaboration happens. If the platform offers robust collaboration features it becomes even easier to access the records you need.

3. Bring power to your meetings

Once inside the system you must find the most relevant data in the shortest time possible. SaaS systems built around redundant databases provide unparalleled access to data, but these titles are only as good as the query systems built in to them. Well-designed PaaS systems should come with integrated query engines as standard. They must be designed to make it easier to find documents, records, or notes. Versioning controls can keep them in sync while user permissions store them safely for the proper owners. SaaS makes it possible to bring this power to your meetings in real-time.

4. Find a single version of the truth

Apps that run on the device but depend on local copies of data mean youíre only a failure away from loss of data. Broken devices, broken network connections, or even dead batteries mean loss of business. Worse, if an application fails the user is stuck until a patch is released. The app on the device must be updated and the risk of corrupted data increases. SaaS applications follow a similar patch system, but once patched on the server the updates are available to all. Working from a common set of data and a common application environment means you can finally provide a living, growing productivity environment that fails less often, provides more useful data, and improves the bottom line.

Solutions as a Service Ė the reality and the promise

SaaS applications are still on the rise and the results are mixed. The promise of a seamless platform is there as long as the provider brings together the proper tools, robust APIs, and presents them in a way that is useful to the customer at an affordable price.

Is your business becoming more productive with SaaS? What do you see as the challenges and opportunities?