Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Software, Surgery and SaaS

SaaS vendors update their solution between 2 to 4 times a year

Back in my college days I worked at an ambitious and fast-paced non-profit in downtown Portland, OR.  It was an okay job: I was the half-IT/half-everything else guy with too much work and no pay, but I liked the people, and, well, I needed the job. Thing was, I was the IT guy and our software solutions were AWFUL. Without naming names, the email client was awkward and rigid, the CRM was everything that it shouldn’t have been (bloated, insecure, inefficient, confusing), and just about everything else changed from desk to desk. It was a mess that the organization paid for every day in lost time and productivity, and it’s a mess that I’m sad to say is probably familiar to most business owners out there today (never mind low-level tech guys).

Thinking back on it I’m reminded of something very, very unhealthy. From a business standpoint the IT situation was decrepit and sickly – not the types of adjectives you want assigned to your “ambitious and fast-paced” organization.  Like a sort of disease or affliction, the place’s legacy software solutions were perpetuating legacy business processes. Think about it – and I’m going to pick on Microsoft here – but isn’t having MS Exchange Online at the core of your workflow a bit like having heart disease or a tumor in your lungs? I mean, c’mon – Exchange Online? Really? The program with a UI less friendly than a rabid dog? The program that permanently blocks you for just one wrong password attempt?

That’s what makes services like ours so cool. In a sense, we’re the surgeons of the new business world. Got a tumor? We’ll remove it. Need a new heart? We’ve got six new ones right here. Sick of a dozen different applications doing poorly what one should do well? Have a seat – the doctor will be right with you, after he sees the trillion other hacking, wheezing patients…

Of course, businesses shouldn’t need surgery– surgery is way too drastic, scary and expensive. Instead, businesses should be investing in some measure of preventative health. Think Chinese: green tea, meditation, tiger’s paw, whatever. SaaS is amazing because it offers just that: vendors work month to month to make sure their clients are fit and healthy and not crawling off to die. R “Ray” Wang enumerates this well in his SaaS “Bill of Rights.”

SaaS vendors update their solution between 2 to 4 times a year. With current Agile development methodologies, some vendors iterate in months. Customers gain access to latest features, bug fixes, and regulatory updates at a quicker pace. In many cases, organizations turn to SaaS to access innovation and capabilities not provided by incumbent on-premise vendors.

That’s what businesses should be looking for. The best SaaS vendors and migration consultants offer services that embrace the whole “preventative health” mantra – the goal should be ensuring your business never needs surgery again. Instead of suffering disruptive IT operations every three years – and losing out to lost efficiency – businesses should invest in IT “trainers” to work alongside and “grow up” with. That’s good for business. Cloud-based solutions make sense for many, many reasons, but at the end of the day it’ll be that client/vendor or client/consultant relationship that makes all the difference.

Now, for my daily green tea…

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More Stories By Chris Bliss

Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.