Is SaaS Adoption Getting Ahead of Itself?

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Reviewing customer SaaS adoptions keeps sending us back to John Martin’s post on SaaS as the next disruptive “Big Thing” for IT.  Though referencing SaaS in terms of the CIO Corner’s disruption cycle may raise some eyebrows, I think we all agree SaaS is disruptive.  SaaS presents IT and LOB executives with a true strategic differentiator, challenges IT’s comfort level for areas such as control and compliance, and disrupts the entrenched legacy vendors and solutions.  Ironically, actually calling SaaS a disruptive technology may be exactly what is required to help ensure it really goes mainstream.

Disruptive technologies referenced in Gary Beach’s blog drove the market to revisit established processes and controls, sometimes reluctantly.  SaaS is no different – discussions positioning SaaS as ‘just a delivery model’ or a simple extension for legacy IT solutions ignore the business and IT challenges.  SaaS shifts key business processes, user information, permissions, and policy to an off-premise model that is configurable – but not fully customizable.  Add in the fact that multiple best-of-breed SaaS applications may enable a full business process like CRM, we find the overall market must adapt or risk artificially limiting the SaaS opportunity.

To keep SaaS adoption from getting ahead of itself, we must turn the collective focus to driving market adoption and removing barriers to enterprise deployment.   As with any emerging industry, the solutions that enable SaaS to move beyond early adopters lag the initial SaaS deployments.  In response to this lag, SaaS customers are barraged with existing vendors quickly repurposing older technologies to capture $$$ and industry experts clamoring for ‘SaaS 2.0’.  Neither market reaction meets the real adoption needs of SaaS customers – especially in larger organizations.

It is not clear how may “IT events” failed in Gary Beach’s disruptive model, but the successful ones must have been embraced by a proactive community and industry.  Customers are demanding solutions that allow IT to move beyond old approaches, limited point solutions, and empty promises.  These solutions will have to focus on coordinated provisioning, alignment of business policy, risk and regulatory compliance, and cross-application visibility, to name a few.  If we want SaaS to be the next “Big Thing”, it is time to step up and focus on the real market needs, providing IT with robust solutions needed to drive adoption.  Let’s raise the visibility of this conversation to match the ongoing debates around next generation standards and modification of legacy approaches for SaaS.

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