If we look back to 20th century offices, corporate networks and employees, it’s not difficult to detect the trends that transformed them to what they are today.
One of the most striking differences between modern offices and their ten years younger selves is certainly the way basic collaboration, communication and data management activities are carried out. Nowadays, most of these activities take place online, which is enabled by implementation of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and introduction of mobile devices.
Over the last few years, mobility and SaaS have been seen as the two major game changers in business ecosystem all over the world. Due to their potential to boost business efficiency and employees’ productivity, these two trends have long become priorities in companies of all sizes. In Australia, there seems to be a great understanding of both of these trends, as well as a tendency towards adopting both SaaS and mobile solutions.
What is SaaS and how has it changed business?
The rise of SaaS, one of the most widely recognized cloud incarnations, has revolutionized the field of applications, yielding a multitude of business growth opportunities. SaaS applications range from cloud help desks such as ZenDesk and Salesforce, to eCommerce platforms and collaboration solutions.
The primary advantage of these services is their cost-efficiency, which is certainly one of their most attractive features for both SMBs and enterprises alike. This is why the global SaaS market remains one of the fastest-growing IT categories, with a predicted 7.8 growth rate in the next couple of years.
The fact that SaaS solutions require less investments in IT equipment and on-premise software enabled many companies to expand their businesses and start operating internationally. This is especially true of businesses where IT is not the key focus and where there tend to be more problems with software integrations. SaaS enables companies of various sizes and focuses to identify the necessary solutions and implement them without seeking expert advice other than that given by the provider.
In practice, there’s certainly many ways for businesses to proliferate by integrating SaaS solutions, and this is what drives their adoption all over the world. In case of Asia-Pacific region, the trend of adopting SaaS is high and expected to remain so in the following years. According to Software-as-a-Service in Asia Pacific (APAC) (2010-2015)market report, Asia-Pacific region follows the trend of mass shift to SaaS and this market here is expected to grow to $4321 million in 2015.
The report also reveals that the highest SaaS adoption rate is in the telecom sector, while small to medium sized companies show the most interest in implementing these solutions due to their cost-efficiency and ease of implementation. The most widely used ones are, quite expectedly, CRM and ERP systems, while applications such as HRM, e-learning and e-procurement gradually increase.
Mobility and hyper-connected employees
Mobility is another important business trend associated with the rise of the cloud and employees’ demand for constant access to both their personal and business applications. Modern business strategies certainly rely on enhancing their communication with prospects and consumers through immediate contact and omnipresence on the web. Mobility is therefore one of priorities for modern companies, which is also the case in Australia, where 71% of executives rate it as one of the top five priorities, as revealed in Accenture Mobility Insights Report 2014.
However, the survey also suggests an apparent lack of mobile data management strategies in Australian companies. Mobile data management is certainly a challenging strategy considering general unreliability of this form of data transfer and storage, which is a problem many CIOs and CTOs still need to face. Even though businesses seem to show great awareness of mobility, there is a range of strategies that still need to be introduced in order to implement these technologies properly.
John Cassidy, Accenture Australia’s Mobility Lead notes, “One of the biggest challenges to progress is the lack of formal, enterprise-wide mobility strategies, which in Australia is the case for 39 percent of organizations.” He also points out that Australian organizations need to make investments at a strategy, organizational and operational level in order to be able to compete with other regions, where mobility seems to be more successfully integrated.
Another issue that arises in relation to this discussion is the emergence of wearables and potential future introduction of WYOD policies, which are only to cause more problems for companies that strive for global reach. The market for wearables is growing at an astonishing rate and, even though these devices still haven’t penetrated business landscape on a large scale, it’s only a matter of time when CIOs will need to face this issue as well.
On the bright side, however, now is the right time to think of the future of wearables at workplace and adapt mobile data management strategies to the future expansion of these devices.
The two technology trends are obviously some of the greatest drivers of change in modern business and they are tightly connected because they both rely on the cloud. As suggested by various business analysts over the past few years, the power SaaS and mobile apps have over business processes is huge, which is why modern companies increasingly focus on implementing them.
Naturally, however, not all companies can adapt to changing trends equally quickly. Therefore, while on one hand transforming businesses and expanding their opportunities, these two trends also pose new challenges for CIOs. In Australia, it seems that companies generally do recognise the potential of SaaS solutions and are ready to experiment with them. As for mobility, this seems to be a tad tougher strategy to implement, but this does not decrease their relevance for Australian executives.