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Saas News & Analysis

Will Office 365 Destroy Consulting?

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If you had asked me back in 2010 if my banking or insurance clients would ever move their content to the cloud, I would have laughed. But over the past couple of years these same organizations have shifted their perspective. The idea of hosting email in Exchange online and providing users with an option of Office 365 capabilities (OneDrive, SharePoint, etc) intrigues many. 

Which raises the question: How will the shift towards SaaS technology impact modern consultancies like System Integrators (SI) and Managed Services Providers (MSP)?

A Primer on Cloud Options

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The question for most organizations today is not if they will be moving all or part of their business to the cloud, but when and how. Agility is the name of the game as the demands of an ever-growing global workforces become greater, and a move to the cloud just makes sense -- technologically and for the business.

The advantages of taking your business operations into the cloud have been well-documented: high levels of scalability, a decrease in IT costs and a mobile work environment that allows your employees to plug in and be productive from anywhere. For productivity, most businesses are choosing between two options -- Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) -- while some turn to Platform as a Service (PaaS) to create software that is then delivered over the Web.

So how should you decide as a business which setup is best for you? Let’s look at the options.

Can You Name the 3 Leaders in the Public Enterprise Cloud Space?

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Put your money on hybrid cloud computing — and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Rackspace.

But be forewarned: Security (or lack thereof) is still a concern and one of the chief reasons for underuse of cloud resources.

The findings, contained in RightScale’s State of the Cloud Report for 2015, paint a picture of a technology space that is well established but still immature in some respects.

It also confirms that hybrid cloud deployments are the preferred path for enterprises movement to the cloud, which explains why leading vendors have invested so many resources into their hybrid cloud portfolio.

Turn Sales into Customer Ambassadors: Reward Renewals

A talent manager friend of mine puts it bluntly: “people do what they’re paid to do.” More specifically, she means people do what they’re incented to do -- especially through bonuses, commissions and other performance-based compensation. It’s attaining payment for achievement that motivates people, especially when that payment is also accompanied by recognition, promotions and status among one’s peers. Base salary is important – but it’s not all about the base.

SharePoint in the Clouds: Choosing Between Office 365 or Azure

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Every time I read about “the cloud” I want to drag out a red pencil and edit the sentence. Why? Because we should really be talking about “the clouds,” plural.

There are dozens of cloud hosting options for SharePoint, beyond Office 365. Amazon, Rackspace and Fpweb offer compelling alternatives to Microsoft’s public cloud for SharePoint online with a mix of capabilities.

SaaS Support Best Practices: Passive, Proactive and Predictive

2014-03-November-Help.jpgAn essential part of creating a truly integrated and comprehensive SaaS customer support program is developing the capability to provide customers with the type of support experience they need, when they need it. Because of the nature of the SaaS service -- customers constantly interacting with the SaaS provider’s software solution to accomplish often mission-critical and time-sensitive tasks -- the SaaS vendor should be able to provide three types of support: passive, proactive and predictive.

SaaS Support Best Practices: The Transparent Model

2014-27-October-Boost.jpgAs technology vendors respond to a changing marketplace by creating Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings, their relationship to their customers must change. Satisfying customers by creating a great product that garners positive reviews, and soliciting customer feedback for future upgrades simply isn’t enough.

When a company hands over control of its mission-critical software environment to a SaaS provider, the SaaS customer support organization essentially functions as an extension of the customer’s IT department. To take this step, a customer must trust that they will receive the constant, professional and hands-on support they need. Generating this trust requires that the Customer Support team be transparent and always available.

SaaS Support Best Practices: The Seamless Approach

2014-20-October-Free-Advice.jpgAs more and more companies look to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) as a way to increase agility and control costs, many technology vendors are evolving their solution sets to include a SaaS offering. When vendors do this, they must recognize that their customer support organizations will become critical to customer satisfaction and retention. As the primary point of contact in an ongoing customer relationship, support must develop and maintain stronger and deeper relationships with customers. Failure to do so will inevitably result in higher churn.

Is IBM's Watson Analytics All That?

2014-17-September-Computer-Watson.jpgIf we got a dollar every time someone told us that they’re democratizing big data, we’d have a hundred dollar bills, and that’s just so far this week.

So when an IBM representative sent a note saying that it was making Watson Analytics available to everyday business users to let them ask questions in plain language and get big data informed answers back in short order, our hearts didn’t patter too much. Even when they said we could try it for free.

After all, we’ve sat side by side, live and in person, with vendors who make big, big data analytics promises. And when we’ve said “Show me, turn me into a data scientist, big data analyst, heck, even novice user,” they haven’t been able to do it.

And maybe it’s us, but more than likely, here’s the deal -- in most cases, these vendors don’t include people like us (non-data workers) as citizens of their democratic, big data republics. And that’s fine, as long as we define that from the start.

Caveat Emptor: Are You Buying a Solution or a Science Project?

2014-11-September-Large-Hadron-Collider.jpgMost enterprise software is more like undertaking a science project than buying a product that solves a problem. Organizations buy a “platform” and have their IT departments build the “solution” on it.

A platform is essentially an Erector set with very poor instructions. Sure -- go ahead and build a motorized crane. If you a. know what a crane is and should do and b. know what parts need to be assembled in what order to do it. Otherwise, you’re just trying stuff.  

Your first few cranes won’t work very well. People will likely use something (anything) else they can until you have built a better crane. You have on your hands a Science Project.

How to Get Started in Web Experience Personalization

2014-21-August-PaintedLadies.jpgAll savvy marketers -- along with most shoppers -- understand the advantages of personalizing websites. Netflix, Amazon and other companies have trained us to expect a shopping experience tailored just for us.

When we get something else, reactions can range from mild disappointment to utter frustration. Shoppers take their business elsewhere. Click. Click. Gone.

This phenomenon has spilled over to B2B marketing, where business buyers expect the same sort of shopping experience that they have in their personal lives. Is that unreasonable?

No, says Noah Logan, senior vice president of Upland Software and the general manager of its Clickability unit, which provides services to NBC, Cantor Fitzgerald and about 500 others sites around the world. He spoke Thursday in a CMSWire webinar titled "5 Effective Ways to Personalize Web Experiences." The session was sponsored by Clickability.  (Click to watch)

Why SaaS Saw Its Biggest Revenue Gain Since Recession

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Software companies led by entrepreneurs with experience in building successful software-as-a-service (SaaS) organizations are thriving. They as much as double revenue growth year-over-year, a new software industry report finds.

In other words, those in their second or third rodeos in SaaS software fare well.

The findings are reported in this month's 2014 Software & SaaS Financial Benchmarking Industry Report, the eighth annual study produced by Boston-based OPEXEngine in conjunction with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA).

"Far more well-funded, venture-backed, companies are hitting their stride with growth rates of 50 percent to 100 percent year over year, than ever before," Lauren Kelley, CEO and founder of OPEXEngine, told CMSWire. "Many of these companies are being established by entrepreneurs who have already built one or two, sometimes three, SaaS companies before, and managed by executives with equivalent experience. These executives can get a new company up and running far faster than five or 10 years ago when SaaS was a new management discipline." 

Clickability Acquires a Patent for Visitor Testing

Upland Software, a web content management provider for B2B and B2C, has received a patent for its Clickability platform's ability to test web visitor segmentation and profiling.

This is the company's fourth patent for its website personalization and targeting solution, called Website Marketing Acceleration (WMA). In the tests covered by the new patent, marketers can try out their messages with specific site visitors on the actual site, such was whether the right content is being presented at the right point in the buying process. But WMA allows such testing without polluting the site analytics data.

IBM Social Software Update Features File Sync On Premises

IBM's latest version of its social enterprise collaboration software suite IBM Connections is now available on the IBM cloud marketplace, a move IBM officials say makes the platform faster and easier to deploy.

The announcement today of IBM Connections 5 comes roughly 18 months after IBM's last update to the Connections platform. IBM officials boasted about the new offering's capability to bring secure file sync to on premises.

Niche Web CMS Wants to Help Law Firms Go Digital

A business dive into the Web Content Management System (CMS) world is risky. The market is saturated with platforms.

But Eric Diamond has high hopes for his company's new product. The new Software as a Service (SaaS) marketing solution is designed to help law firms execute their digital strategies — and avoid proprietary content management and marketing platforms with limited flexibility and long, expensive licenses.

"Most, if not all, of the other content management systems in this space are proprietary products," Diamond said.  "So new feature additions and bug fixes are done on the vendor’s schedule. Also proprietary platforms often have expensive licensing fees that tie customers into long term contracts."

Legal Publish is a sister company to Tribeca Digital and Tribeca Cloud, two other companies Diamond heads. 

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