The implementation of new technologies in the world of work is significantly increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of company activities.
Digital technologies in particular, software in the first place, are enabling one transformation ever faster and more complex.
In this context the so-called SaaS “Software As a Service” constitute one of the most disruptive innovations capable of bringing a real paradigm shift in the digital approach of companies.
What is SaaS
Before understanding what the characteristics and advantages of a SaaS can be for companies and individuals, it is essential to give a definition that can summarize the concept.
In the digital field, when we refer to SaaS, acronym for Software as a Service, we identify that software distribution model that differs from traditional systems for the use of a third-party provider that offers dedicated applications through the Internet. A SaaS is therefore a system that hosts the software that companies or individuals need directly in the cloud and that allows them to be used actively through the Internet and by signing up for a subscription.
It differs from the so-called “proprietary software” or “custom” because the latter are made on specific request of a company or a private individual, typically on order, who own the exclusive license.
Unlike SaaS, they require dedicated development, maintenance and updating work. Finally, proprietary software generally requires local installation on your work device while SaaS have the advantage of being able to use the software purchased by subscription anywhere and on any device.
As it is easy to deduce, a technology of this kind has several advantages mainly related to its basic characteristics. Specifically, the most relevant characteristics of SaaS are: Multi-tenant architecture, remote server, internet accessibility, static localization and finally updates.
Let’s see them in detail.
Multi-tenant architecture: this characteristic identifies that software architecture in which each instance is executed by a specific server, but on which several companies can interact at the same time.
Remote server: the remote management of the applications allows you to use them wherever you want, obviously after an Internet connection.
Accessibility via the Internet: the interaction with the purchased software and one’s own physical machine takes place directly with an Internet access, thus guaranteeing exceptional eclecticism for those who work on the move.
Static localization: among the features that distinguish this technology from others is its ability to be managed in one place. The central server distributes its computing power as needed to meet customer needs.
Updates: absolute level specification, which has made this technology more and more interesting, is the total automatic upgradeability. Users are not responsible for updates to the software chosen, as the SaaS service will manage the update processes and the consequent technical problems in complete autonomy in the event of instability of the system selected in their subscription.
This last element represents a strong distinctive factor and advantage over customized or custom software for which it is necessary to request and pay for each new implementation from a developer or software house.
Difference Saas, Iaas, Paas
When dealing with a technology of this type it is important to understand the difference between SaaS and Cloud. When using a Cloud technology, a software infrastructure is used that is capable of connecting computers, databases and servers to each other; while a SaaS system is more appropriate to catalog it as a service that provides software applications through the cloud.
Taking note of this difference, it is also appropriate to understand the one that exists between SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.
SaaS (Software as a Service)
As already mentioned in the previous lines, this technology is increasingly widespread in the business world for the Cloud Computing market. Technically, the programs purchased on the dedicated platform are used directly on the user’s browser by exploiting the computing power of the suppliers’ software and hardware.
PaaS (Platform as a Service)
With this acronym, on the other hand, we identify that service that makes both the software and hardware sectors available to the customer for the realization of software and applications in turn. Developers and those who need a lot of computing power may require this technology to use a development environment optimized for a well-defined scope.
IaaS (Infrastructures as a Service)
The previous nomenclatures are linked by a principle of sharing both hardware and software, while IaaS makes available to the customer only the hardware infrastructure, technically the main server. This service is particularly suitable for individuals or companies who want to monitor the calculation, storage and their network, periodically adapting it to the needs of corporate IT power. Definitely a system closer to the traditional Cloud, but with the advantages of a SaaS system.
SaaS benefits for companies and individuals
Until now, the potential of the SaaS model is evident, but it is important to analyze the concrete benefits that a company or an individual can derive from this technology. Let’s see the most relevant ones.
Hardware cost: among the benefits on which small and medium-sized enterprises can invest is the complete elimination of hardware costs. Direct management of the cloud provider provides consumers with significant processing power without necessarily investing upfront capital for hardware components. Buying a performing computer has a significant cost that must be considered in an effective marketing strategy. Thanks to the amortization of a subscription plan, even those who do not have a large initial budget can take advantage of a quality technical sector.
Installation: when subscribing, users are already set up and active to be able to use the applications necessary for their work or study. There are therefore no initial installation costs or additional commissions to pay. This advantage can be very useful for companies that have an immediate need for specific applications and cannot take advantage of them on their physical systems. Certainly a relevant parameter also on maintenance costs at the end of the year.
Implement the services: those who have a heterogeneous activity may need to use a certain software for a limited time. Thanks to SaaS services, companies will be able to pay only for the services used, customizing costs and use based on the period. In many cases, purchasing physical software for your work can cost more than the cloud version. In these cases, an optimal planning of one’s work tasks is essential to obtain excellent results.
Service scalability: the growth of your company or business needs can be satisfied by implementing additional services. The scalability of a cloud computing service is an advantage not to be neglected and in addition to highlighting the previously listed advantages, it benefits from an improvement in performance according to the needs of the customer-company. Additional packages only affect the cost of the subscription.
Updates: as highlighted in the characteristics of SaaS technology, those who use a service based on this model will be able to benefit from automatic updates from the parent company. You are, therefore, free from wasting time or financial resources in updating your system or software. In most cases, software updates are free and are checked and installed directly by the software vendor. Security is a very important issue of cloud computing and a SaaS service from this point of view represents an excellent guarantee. Constant updates are not an option but a requirement of every software.
Compatibility: The benefit that has made this type of working system famous is its ability to be used on any device with an Internet connection. Not everyone has a studio-based infrastructure with monitors and electronic devices, so cloud computing ensures exceptional compatibility with all products that have a sufficient connection and a browser that supports the minimum specifications. Fortunately, the minimum requirements to achieve good fluidity on a SaaS model are truly within everyone’s reach.
Accessibility: Managers or companies that are constantly on the move need dedicated software and hardware to be able to plan business operations. Obviously it is almost impossible to carry high-performance hardware with you and conveying this problem to a SaaS system can be an intelligent solution. The software can be used from anywhere, paying attention only to the presence of an internet network on which to start the initialization and data saving process.
Integration: SaaS software guarantees in most cases levels of integration with other software that are much higher than those granted by proprietary software. The massive diffusion of these solutions has prompted the need to allow dialogue between different software, a dialogue that takes place through tools that typically already exist and are available at reduced costs.
Customization: last advantage, but certainly not for value, is that of being able to customize applications to adapt them to the needs of the moment. Each brand, whether managed by a private individual or a company, can have different evolutions over time; these improvements can be supported by a customization of the software used. The modification takes place in a few moments thanks to the completely digital systems.
Some examples of the best SaaS software and their applications for companies
Payments: SaaS software for payments is also widely used by individuals, some well-known examples are PayPal, Stripe. These solutions allow you to manage and accept payments online.
Internal communication and collaboration: specific software for dialogue and internal work within the company began to spread, in this sense it is possible to mention Trello, Slack. They make available chat channels or shared dashboards where you can talk and work as a team on projects.
Customer Management (CMR): still little used in Italy are the “customer relationship management” software, among the most widespread and in-depth it is possible to mention Hubspot, also available with free packages.
Sending and managing emails: the list of this type of software with very sustainable packages is very wide, some of the main ones are Mailchimp, Active Campaign and Sendinblue.
Web analysis: to analyze the positioning of your site or that of competitors SemRush and SeoZoom are establishing themselves as excellent solutions.
SaaS software is spreading to countless other areas such as server and hosting, billing and accounting, design, data visualization, digital signatures, password management and much more.
Because they are fundamental for the future of companies
Customer needs change quickly and it is essential that companies and individuals know how to adapt correctly. Using a SaaS service guarantees versatility and flexibility in evolving or changing the software solution used with reduced costs.
In this particular service exchange process it is worth understanding what the five fundamental principles of SaaS development are. So that we can fully assimilate the potential of this model and above all the reasons for having to exploit it in this historical moment. Let’s see what they are in detail.
Decentralized IT purchases: the first reason that makes this new way of approaching work fundamental is the possibility of eliminating the bureaucratic component. Traditional methods of buying and selling software or hardware are tied to a cumbersome and impractical negotiation. The SaaS model, on the other hand, places the end user in the condition of being able to manage the entire IT department in a lean and fast way, consciously decentralizing the different business functions.
Program for each department: companies are characterized by being divided into different work areas, each of these with a well-defined task and needs. The use of a SaaS service guarantees the company to be able to adapt the product based on the human resources available and the purpose of their work.
B2B as important as B2C: many companies use a very unique marketing strategy linked to the delegation of tasks. An example above all is the sale of IKEA products that are assembled independently by consumers. The SaaS system, although in a different way, goes along the same path, but with the difference that at the center of the reasoning there are sales and not the assembly of furniture.
This process of change is especially visible in the way in which SaaS-based software is spreading, that is, on the Freemium solutions or free trials that companies offer to customers to test their service. Certainly an efficient strategy based on solid foundations of a project of great utility for SMEs and Managers.
Artificial intelligence included: what makes this technology truly innovative is its direct relationship with AI solutions. Thanks to the interaction between the workflow and the prediction of statistical data provided by an intelligent system, companies can count on values that allow them to better plan the following months of production. More and more software dedicated to Artificial Intelligence can improve the results of companies, giving them an important means to emerge in a competitive market. From the collection of data to the implementation of automatic software, the SaaS system provides everything that is most modern on the market, giving credit to the needs of customers but without a dedicated cost for development.
Smart Working: the devastating impact of Covid-19 has necessarily led companies to organize their employees’ work from home. Although many of them have a good understanding of business programs, exposure to cyber threats and technical failures have increased exponentially. A SaaS system, thanks to automatic updates and an internal security system, can drastically reduce all those accidental accidents usually caused by less experienced human resources in the digital world.
Advice to SMEs on digital transformation: trusting professionals
From the previous paragraphs it is evident how a SaaS system can guarantee individuals and companies considerable advantages, especially if their goal is to improve themselves compared to a competition still linked to traditional methods, facing the digital transformation .
Although this reasoning is absolutely founded, it should be emphasized that specialized experts in this area can concretely help those who need them to plan their subscription according to their needs. The role of the Chief Digital Officers (CDO) of Maia Management can be useful for selecting and implementing SaaS solutions in the correct way for different business areas or needs.