Software as a Service (SaaS) is nothing new – most enterprises are now quite familiar with SaaS for back office operations such as HR and CRM. These were functions that IT had been supporting for decades; but, interestingly, this familiarity with the software and infrastructure required to support these business applications made it easier, rather than more difficult to make the move to SaaS. IT knew how much it spent on hardware acquisition, how much it spent on software licenses or custom development, and how much it spent on people and tools to keep the applications running. Therefore, the cost benefit analysis was fairly straightforward and the move to SaaS ended up being a no brainer.
But now, those same companies are second guessing SaaS when it comes to their IoT deployment. The newness of IoT is calling to question the very same decision criteria they used when they first moved to SaaS:
• Cost savings – IoT is new to our organization so we don’t have any baseline cost numbers yet.
• Feature parity – Since we don’t know exactly what we need, how are we going to evaluate the completeness of the SaaS solution?
• Common business processes – Our IoT solution will be very specific to our products and services so I am doubtful that a SaaS solution will be able to support our unique business processes.
Actually, the uncertainty of IoT makes SaaS an ideal fit. Assuming that the SaaS solution you are evaluating is truly SaaS – i.e. it isn’t one size fits all, isn’t locking you in until the next decade, and it isn’t requiring an army of contractors to integrate it into every aspect of your IT fabric – then consider these benefits that SaaS brings to your IoT deployment:
• Reduced time to benefit regardless of your goals – Whether you are just getting started by collecting and shifting through telemetry data to discover new insights or you’re ready to unleash machine learning on heaps of data to predict future machine failures, SaaS gives you the option to be up and running in hours, not months or years.
• Lower cost of entry – A typical IoT solution is comprised of several components spanning many technologies. There is device side firmware, multiple connectivity technologies, server side logic, vast amounts of data, and, of course, heavy machine learning. Do you have the budget to develop and manage all that infrastructure from day 1 of your IoT project? Additionally, does your organization even have all the required skills to develop and end to end IoT solution?
• Functional breadth and depth – Don’t limit your evaluation of the SaaS solution to your initial IoT needs. Given the uncertainty of how your business will leverage IoT, now is a great time for some experimentation so take advantage of the SaaS platform’s capabilities to push your IoT project further or to try multiple scenarios – options which aren’t usually available when you are relying on your already over worked and under staffed IT team.
While the promise of IoT is enormous, the reality is that it’s still in its infancy and many companies are just starting to piece together their IoT strategy. However, it is in this time of uncertainty where SaaS clearly rises to the top given that it enables companies to quickly create and prove out a variety of IoT scenarios at very low investment levels. Even though the business dynamics for IoT are very different than they were for back office business applications, the move to SaaS is still a no brainer.