The delivery model for DM computer programs has been ingrained over the years: You investigate vendors, select a provider, sign a contract and enter a lengthy and potentially difficult implementation phase. Then, you deal repeatedly with your vendor post-installation to iron out bugs and glitches.
However, one of the most popular trends in technology in recent years is designed to collapse that timeline and streamline the installation and maintenance process. Through software-as-a-service (SaaS), the product is provided to the customer remotely through a high-speed Internet connection. Maintenance, enhancements, upgrades and customer support are all managed by the vendor for a recurring monthly service fee. There is no hardware, networking, storage or database technology investment required.
The SaaS market is growing rapidly, with hundreds of companies delivering all kinds of applications this way. Research firm The Gartner Group predicts the SaaS market will grow across industries to $19.3 billion by the end of 2011.
In terms of installation and “go-live” time, SaaS is typically a much faster deployment — software can be available within weeks, as opposed to months. A 2006 study from the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA) concluded that SaaS deployments are 50% to 90% faster than traditional on-premise deployments. SaaS also allows for a significant time savings for the client’s IT staff, meaning that organizations with limited IT resources or expertise can deploy world-class solutions without the added expense of an extensive IT staff.
Typically, the actual total cost of ownership is much lower with SaaS than with on-premise installation. Additionally, because SaaS is “pay as you go,” there is much more accountability from a SaaS vendor. If the SaaS service does not function properly, a customer can exert pressure on the vendor to perform, or else terminate the service.
As the SaaS trend grows, so will the appeal of taking advantage of the benefits of the latest DM technology without dealing with the installation and maintenance headaches.
Dave Clements is CEO of Lasso Data Systems, a provider of CRM solutions for the real estate industry. Reach him at [email protected].