Yesterday’s saas/cloud customer focused webinar which featured the Telegraph Media Group was all that I had hoped for and then some. There was a solid attendance and the quality of questions coming in was excellent. We ran over time by 15 minutes largely due to the Q&A. That’s always a good sign. I understand the webinar will be available for replay shortly (I’ll update for the link) but in the meantime I’m sharing a few of the TMG slides I captured during the call:
The above shows how TMG is assembling cloud services such as Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, Google and FinancialForce to develop an agile yet low cost application landscape that supports a transforming business model. It’s interesting that all of these services can be used by even the smallest of companies yet here we have a good sized business using the same available tech. That should send a clear message that at least some of today’s solutions are democratizing access to quality IT services. I for example use Google and Amazon.
In this image, TMG is talking about how saas/cloud is helping them get faster access to innovation, while delivering on business needs. In an on-premise world, it is much harder to achieve rapid functional consumption because you inevitably have IT and training issues.
You can always argue that these fast iteration cycles are an indication of product immaturity. My answer is simple. Do you want what you need or bloatware?
SaaS is showing us it need not be that way. In fact, if you look at how SaaS applications evolve, they are forced into being instantly consumable. That in turn means the application cannot afford to lose its intuitive look and feel, even if there has been a major upgrade.
It is testimony to how far the industry has come that Toby made a specific point about user acceptance. In most application deployments, there is a predictable pattern of adoption. You go through the training (probably at the wrong time!!), users start to wrestle with an engineered interface with which they are wholly unfamiliar, tweaks are applied, the cycle repeats and then users find workarounds for the things that don’t work.
Broadly speaking, SaaS doesn’t share those same characteristics. Usability becomes much more important in the development phase and that means by the time the solution is ready to go, the developers often have a very good idea what’s working and what needs attention. Access to users in this way is a key differentiator that on-premise developers simply can’t get.
In TMG’s case the results speak for themselves. User’s have tasted, they like and don’t want to go back. That contrasts sharply with the many situations I’ve seen where users grumble about the new, hanker for the old, even though the new may be much improved. When you’ve invested in workarounds, you are reluctant to give those up. But when you see something that you can just consume, it changes the adoption dynamic.
I didn’t capture any of Jeremy Roche’s slides. He is CEO FinancialForce.com. One point he did make that is worth noting. SaaS is helping vendors like FF to shrug off their ‘back office’ only perception. I know the company is doing some interesting things around the integration of social computing services that resemble Twitter and from the quick briefing I received, it sounds interesting. More to come on that later.