In its infancy, business benefits of the cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model were simple: save on expensive infrastructure, while remaining agile enough to scale up or down depending on demand. Yet as cloud-based tools become ubiquitous, both inside and outside of a workplace, measuring success extended beyond simple infrastructure savings.
In theory the ability to launch new projects in hours and replace high infrastructure costs with a low monthly subscription should deliver substantial ROI benefits. But what happens to that ROI when the IT team discovers, six months after deployment, that end-user adoption is as low as 10 per cent? If businesses calculated the real “cost per user” in these instances, the benefits promised by cloud would simply diminish. This is becoming a real issue for businesses that bought on the promise of scalability, or reduced infrastructure costs.
In reality, success demands real organisational change, not just a cheap licencing fee. That’s why IT buyers must take time to look beyond the basic “sticker price” and begin to understand the end-user.
Aiming for seamless collaboration
As the enterprise workplace becomes ever-more fragmented, a “collaborative approach” is becoming increasingly important to business leaders. Industry insight, experience and understanding are all things that can’t be easily replicated by the competition. Being able to easily share this knowledge across an entire organisation is an extremely valuable asset – especially when trying to win new customers. That said, in organisations where teams need to operate across multiple locations (be it in difference offices or different countries), this can be difficult to implement: collaboration becomes inefficient, content lost and confidential data exposed – harming reputation and reducing revenue opportunities.
Some cloud-based SaaS solutions are quite successful in driving collaboration, improving the agility of teams and the security of their content. For example, Baker Tilly International – a network of 157 independent accountancy and business advisory firms, with 27,000 employees across 133 counties –significantly improved efficiency and created more time to bid for new business by deploying a cloud-based collaboration platform with government-grade security. However, not all organisations experience this success when deploying new cloud technologies. Some burden themselves with services that promise big ROI through innovation, but struggle with employee adoption.
- Building awareness and confidence for better user experience
All enterprise systems, cloud or otherwise, need ownership and structure. IT teams need to understand how users and information move between internal systems. The minute workflows become broken, users will abandon the tool and default back to what has worked for them in the past. The result: poor user adoption and even increased security risks as users try to circumvent the new process. Building awareness and confidence in cloud technologies is the key to curbing this.
While cloud-based SaaS solutions are sold on their ease of use, end user education is paramount to ensuring an organization sees this value. The truth is, media scaremongering around data breaches has resulted in a fear of “the cloud”, causing many employees, especially those that don’t realise the consumer products they use are cloud-based, to resist using these tools in the workplace. In addition to teaching employees how to use services, IT teams must be able to alleviate employee concerns – baking change management into a deployment schedule.
These change management services aren’t often included within licensing costs, making the price-per-user seem artificially low. IT teams must be sure to factor in education efforts for driving user adoption and build an ROI not against price-per-user, but the actual cost-per-user.
- Data security isn’t just about certifications
There’s a thin line drawn between usability and security. If forced to choose, security must always come first. However, be aware that in the age of citizen IT too much unnecessary security can actually increase risk. That may seem contradictory but if usability is compromised too deeply, users will default to legacy tools, shadow IT or even avoid processes altogether.
Many businesses still struggle with the concept of their data being stored offsite. However, for some this mind-set is changing and the focus for successful SaaS implementations is enablement. In these businesses, IT buyers not only look for key security credentials – robust data hosting controls, application security features and secure mobile working – to meet required standards and compliance needs; but also quality user experience. The most secure platform in the world serves no purpose if employees don’t bother to use it.
- Domain expertise
One of the key advantages of cloud-based software is its ability to scale quickly and drive business agility. Today, scale is not only a measure of infrastructure but also a measure of user readiness.
This requires SaaS vendors to respond quickly to a business’s growth by delivering all of the things that help increase user adoption including; adequate user training, managing new user on-boarding, and even monitoring usage data and feedback to deliver maximum value as business begin to scale.
Yes, SaaS removes the need for big upgrade costs but without support from a seasoned expert, poor user adoption puts ROI at risk.
SaaS is about service
Cloud-based SaaS solutions can deliver a flexible, efficient and reliable way to deploy software into an organisation, helping to deliver ROI through reduced deployment time and infrastructure savings. However, these business must never forget that the second “S” in SaaS stands for service, and that successful deployments require more than just a low “sticker price”.
Written by Neil Rylan, VP of Sales EMEA, Huddle