Cloud computing, especially Software-as-a-service (SaaS), has become the standard way for firms both large and small to consume IT resources, with small businesses especially poised to gain a competitive advantage through cloud adoption.
By minimizing IT costs and lowering infrastructure overhead, the cloud allows smaller firms faced with budgeting and staffing challenges to scale their core businesses effectively. Furthermore, by migrating their IT infrastructures into the cloud, small businesses have access to best-in-breed hardware and software, unprecedented quality of service, and lower cost of ownership. Cloud computing is embodied in three service delivery models: SaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-service (PaaS). SaaS is where most small businesses utilize the cloud, and involves accessing software through a cloud delivery model, versus typical client-server or standalone workstation deployment. The following are 10 ways that SaaS can benefit small businesses.
Affordable Access to High Quality Software
For the first time, small businesses have access to the same sophisticated software tools that their larger, deeper-pocketed competitors do. Previously prohibitively expensive products and packages by vendors such as Adobe and SAP are now available to smaller budgeted firms through SaaS cloud offerings, and new “born-in-the-cloud” firms such as Salesforce offer unique SaaS products that are designed to be used in the cloud.
With SaaS, software products do not have to be downloaded and/or installed—users can get started by just signing up for the service. SaaS registration usually consists of minimal form data collection and collection of billing information. Long story short, it’s easy for even small businesses to get started.
Inexpensive Monthly Fee
Instead of paying a large sum for a monolithic software package, small businesses need only pay a monthly fee per user for use of the cloud software.
Usage is billed on a monthly basis, and small businesses are not tied to a SaaS contractually if they decide to use another service.
No Vendor Lock-in
Users can export their data easily, as SaaS providers usually offer a mechanism to access their information. With data mobility and the absence of contracts, small businesses are not locked into a specific cloud software vendor.
Integration with Existing Systems/Website
SaaS allows small businesses to integrate processes in their cloud software to their back office systems and/or website. Salesforce, for instance, makes it easy to capture web form data that gets automatically inserted into the CRM via their “web-to-lead” tools and functionality.
Most SaaS offerings are built to be accessed through an API or web service. This allows developers to customize the cloud software and create new functionality for their organization’s specific uses.
No Software Updates
SaaS lives in the cloud, so its software updates and bug fixes occur automatically. Every time a user accesses the SaaS through their device or browser, they are getting the latest version of that software.
Easy to Use
SaaS is designed for broader audiences, even in the case of sophisticated and/or industry-specific offerings. For this reason, SaaS user experiences tend to be more no-nonsense and easy to understand. Because SaaS is designed to be responsive and agile, cloud software user experience tends to be more intuitive and friendly to use.
CapEx to Opex
SaaS allows businesses to convert capital expenditures to operating expenditures—a modality that works best for smaller firms. For example, instead of investing a large amount of capital into enterprise software and the hardware required to support it, companies have instead a flat, monthly fee to pay for “leasing” the software.
Now that you have all the necessary information, try SaaS out! The great thing for small businesses is that with inexpensive monthly fees, you’re rarely locked into a contract. So try it! If it’s not everything you’ve dreamed, you won’t be leaving cash on the table.