Personal computers became prominent in 1980s. Since then, the Western world has changed radically in how it produces, trades, and consumes information. Today, Gartner claims there are 2.6 billion smart computing devices in existence (source). This massive on influx of personal computers made the average Westerner very technically savvy. Understanding technology interfaces is a second language to Millennial generation Westerners and is taught to children of the 2000s (the Digitarian generation) before they fully learn the English language.
How is this affecting business?
In the past, every decision made for the business technology would be run by someone in IT. This made a lot of sense because computers were very foreign to most people. If a company did not have a "goto" tech consultant they could easily "get burned" making a poor technology decision. This verification process lead, once lead by IT, is now being lead by department heads. This shift is really important to note as is represents a change in technology decision makers. "It used to be that IT ruled the den on any and all platforms", says Joe Eldeman of PulseCX, "The introduction of SaaS based platforms that are SO sophisticated have caused a drastic change in who makes those decisions".
This mentality shift is a direct result of the market being inundated with personal computers. Computers are no longer foreign to the average person, meaning your average department head (marketing, sales, training, etc.) are reading and vetting SaaS tools that can make their job easier. Ultimately they are leading the charge when it comes to department level technology decisions. This is only possible because of the steady influx of Software Services from 2000 and on.
The Emergence of Software Services
The emergence of software as a service fits into the natural progression of human technology. It's part of the evolution of labor tasks and/or communication processes that are improved by tools like the Plow, Cotton Gin, or mechanical assembly lines, or technology like the telephones, bat signals, and the internet. The internet is the greatest communication technology to date. When the internet is paired with computer software, traditional communication/thought oriented tasks operated by people can be improved or automated. Email is a perfect example because it always needs to do the same consistent job, but also needs constant updating of black lists and spam lists. Businesses use to run their own email servers from their business location. This was necessary because there wasn't other options. Email communication was often spotty because of it. Back in the 90s you could get away with the "ohh I didn't get your email" excuse, but not today. Today most businesses run email through a service they pay for, like Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook. Those services are consistent with failsafes and are reliable.
Any tool that allows you to automate a receptive process deserves a look to see if you or your organization can use. I tell my developers any time you find yourself doing something more than once…let’s see if we can create a template or automate it. It’s the same concept.
—Joe Edelman of PulseCX
Email is not the only facet of software as a service that can impact business. In fact it is happening on all communication and digital production fronts of business. Primarily, a business can cut costs on labor and employees. Particularly in traditional IT, but it does not stop there. Let's explore a couple ways new technology services can affect business.
1. Labor & Management Costs
Services emerge for a number of reasons, but reduction of labor and automation of task is primary. Services are naturally disruptive because they change behaviors and roles in Business. Businesses can repurpose resources spent on monotonous tasks or use technology to fill in resources while they grow. Gabe Galvez, CEO of M&A research company CAPTARGET explains "SaaS services/tools allow us to quickly deploy resources to a growing team with no cap ex, at a generally low and predictable cost", which allows his team to scale smoothly between growth stages, and save resources on tasks taken care of by technology that would otherwise need manual labor to execute.
2. Technology Maintenance
Maintenance is a necessary evil in all parts of life, the more it can be avoided, the better life is. SaaS solutions typically remove whatever maintenance that was previously associated with that service (website, email, calendar, etc.) a business once maintained. This results in less emphasis on monotonous tasks, which in turn increases production. SaaS solutions not only increase production, but they also prevent loss with outages. "Every outage we have experienced has cost us money, plain and simple", Galvez explains, "However, because most of our tools are cloud based and externally managed, these outages are the responsibility of well equipped teams and have not had any real lasting effect on our company."
3. Business Performance
In the advent of SaaS applications, businesses can now incorporating the value and performance of SaaS applications into business strategy. "Cloud and web based services are no longer simply tools that exist offsite", Galvez says, "They are an essential component of our growth strategy". This is a major shift in business thought logic, as most traditional businesses would never be able to leverage common technology in their day-to-day strategies.
4. Faster Decision Making
IT departments previously made all technology decisions for the business. Now that people are more comfortable with technology, and SaaS applications are becoming more common and secure, department heads now have great influence over technology decisions. Jim McArthur, previous Senior Vice President of the global digital agency Mirum, says "Enterprise Chief Marketing Officers and Vice Presidents, now, more than ever, are looking to leverage SaaS technology services to optimize their business' workflow". When higher end services like Zesty.io provide great security that IT can verify, decisions can be made faster, without "internal IT processes processes getting in the way".
5. New Roles
The biggest change in business is the emergence of a new team role Marketing Technology Operations. Everyone quoted in this article own that role or are empowering people in that role. this is the new role. This role did not exists before 2010. "It’s up to the individual groups to find out what tools they need", Says Eldeman, "From there they will work with someone to vet the technology" which says time and ensures business performance.
Concluding thoughts by referencing a 90 year old photo that tells that same story
This iconic photo from 1928 is of the workers of Fordlandia, an implanted community in the Amazon which was purposed to replace rubber vendors that were "gouging" Ford Motor Companies tire costs. Henry Ford attempted to replace and expensive 3rd party vendors by attempting to create his own rubber product. Even with the man power and money to back the venture, the effort was a complete failure. Ford's team had no experience cultivating rubber plants, and had no business doing so.
Ford's lesson is a lesson learned for all businesses. Do not attempt to manufacture internal services that are out of the bounds of your primary business focus. SaaS technology solutions, more so than ever, empower businesses to hold focus. We at Zesty.io, along with many others, are providing SaaS solutions to give businesses that focus. Soon enough, it won't be a decision to use a SaaS products, it will be the decision on which ones to use. Because the businesses that are not, will all fall to the wayside.