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Using online software to increase productivity and grow your business is a no brainer. I can’t imagine why any small business would not readily adopt SaaS. What’s holding them back (besides poor bandwidth penetration in some areas) when they can pay a monthly subscription, not have to worry about installation, upgrades and have access to the same tools that their competitors have? This is close to having ‘software utopia’ for the small business!
Lets go back in time….
– People might not have been prepared to put their money with other people’s money when banking was established. Banking and online banking is mainstream now.
– People were probably afraid to get on an aircraft which weighed a few tones and promised to soar like a bird. Today, air travel is a given.
Back to the present.
Currently, we are witnessing one of the biggest shifts in enterprise software (software used for business) and as everything else, it comes with it’s own set of myths, mindsets and confusion. Here are a few I have experienced over the last few years from people who are still not ready to adopt online software for their business.
"My data is more secure with me than putting it on someone else’s server"
Your data is more secure at your vendor’s data center than your own internal network. Security is more than just about taking daily backups, maintaining uptime and setting up a firewall. It’s about password policies, encryption, intrusion detection, offsite backups, secure transmission, software updates, patching etc. If hosting or maintaining servers is not your core business then you are better off renting out software from a reputed vendor who understands all these things. This will ensure peace of mind in the long run.
"I don’t have control over my data or the software"
Well, don’t you put money in the bank and access it anytime you want it? The money is still yours but you rent out the bank’s services so that you don’t have to worry about storing and managing your money. Similarly, you need technology to stay competitive but you don’t necessarily have to own it anymore. This illusionary control is something that you will get over when you see the value the software will provide your business over time.
"SaaS is new & hyped"
If you are using Gmail or Hotmail then you are already using SaaS. Salesforce, PayCycle (now Intuit) and Taleo were all started in the late 90s and have millions of users. Plus, there are over 1200 SaaS vendors across 80 verticals on SaaS-Showplace.com – a well-known directory of SaaS vendors and product categories.
Look around. The Generation X and Y literally live on the Internet (think Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, Youtube, Flickr etc.) and when they join the workforce, guess what they will be expecting? Easy to use, simple online business tools that are constantly in a state of evolution and don’t become obsolete.
"SaaS is difficult to customize"
If you need heavy customization then you probably should not go for SaaS. What’s happened in the past is that people have customized applications so much that they have now become bloated and unmanageable (even by the original vendor that developed it). Instead, why not choose an online application that is closest to what you want to accomplish and start using it? Over time the application will evolve – all good SaaS apps evolve on a month-to-month basis and even provide an API that you can build on.
"I have an IT team and SaaS is a threat"
In fact, online applications are a savior that can free up precious resources to work on strategic business objectives that affect your bottom-line. The key is to focus on the core and outsource what you really don’t need. Why not ask your network team if they would like to automate things that they do on a daily basis?
"SaaS is expensive in the long run"
It depends on what costs have you factored in. If you were to manage your own servers then you need to factor costs for running the server, bandwidth, security, encryption, personnel, upgrades, backups etc. SaaS vendors keep the software fresh and upgrades are mostly free of charge. On-premise software becomes stale and becomes ‘shelf-ware’ over time. Your business needs something that is always cutting-edge and evolving.
"Using SaaS requires a steep learning curve"
Did someone tell you how to navigate Facebook or setup a Google Apps account? Probably not and you did it, intuitively, all on your own. Similarly, SaaS apps are built to give the user a near hassle-free experience since they are judged every month (as opposed to the one time fee you pay for your software that you download or install on your computers). If a service I use fails to provide my team and me a positive experience I will stop trying it and move to the next best competitor. It’s as simple as that.
With SaaS’s cost effectiveness and ease of use, it makes great business sense to start leveraging them to automate various functions within the workplace. This is going to be the future of how software is going to be delivered and consumed so go ahead and give it a shot. There is nothing you can lose.
About the Author
Sahil Parikh is a web entrepreneur living in Mumbai, India. He’s the founder of DeskAway.com – an online project collaboration service for small businesses and teams.
Sahil has been involved with building stuff on the web since the last 9 years and when not in front of the computer, Sahil spends his time reading, playing golf and traveling to distant places.