Deepak Menon, Vice President – Business ByDesign, SAP Labs India
In today’s business climate, it’s imperative that small business owners get what they need irrespective of the device being used. For small and midsize businesses (SMBs), the benefits of cloud computing are endless such as savings on time and money by boosting productivity, improving collaboration and promoting innovation.
Dubbed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), the growth in cloud-based business applications is due to an increasing demand for flexibility and predictable costs. SMBs have been the most aggressive segment to adopt cloud services, becoming the backbone of the SaaS surge.
Let us take a quick look at what makes Cloud so attractive for SMBs:
- Lower Costs and No More Installation Hardship
Expense reduction is a core benefit of cloud-based business applications. SMBs usually do not have the luxury of a large technology budget that would allow for extensive resources specialization, and rarely do they have a budget for a robust IT staff.
Cloud customers usually pay a monthly fee to license business apps, which are hosted on the app provider’s server and accessed via the web. Zero up-front IT infrastructure or technology investments and the recurring costs are predictable. Cloud provides the potential to drive down the total cost of (software) ownership (TCO) and eliminate the capital expenditure in this area.
- Flexibility and Easy Deployment
For on-premise implementation, in addition to the investment in technology infrastructure to run the application, resources are needed to install and customize applications. Added to this cost are the consulting fees.
Most SaaS instances can be provisioned in minutes and quickly configured with branding, process flows, additional fields, reports and other settings. A highly configurable product offers a great deal of flexibility without the time and expense of software redesign and coding.
SaaS apps require no additional server or hardware investments, they are very scalable, and they do not require specialized IT staff.
- Ease of Management and Standardized Solutions
The absence of software installation or infrastructure requirements results in a lesser burden on a SMB and its personnel. Employees do not have to worry about newer versions of the software to install or backups. The app providers manage this part of the equation on their servers. Cloud-based apps are always up-to-date, so both new and existing employees will have the same version of the application.
- Less IT Resources Needed
Cloud-based business applications mitigate personnel issues to a very large extent. As SMBs constantly look for ways to operationalize their approach and reduce unnecessary spending, SaaS apps present an attractive model for infrastructure and software delivery.
- Comprehensive Support
Many SaaS vendors provide tiered pricing for different levels of support and service agreements. Customers as such can choose the best package, without paying for more or receiving less than they need. Unlike a traditional software license, the SaaS model includes comprehensive support in the subscription fee. This also includes product maintenance and upgrades, so there are no hidden costs or additional fees, and no worry about t hardware maintenance or failures.
- High Security
When you move important data offsite to a service provider, you need assurance that the system is secure. SaaS vendors house their applications in world-class data centers, with state-of-the-art power, ventilation and security features. They also employ encryption and the latest in security protocols to ensure the safety and integrity of your data.
Once the decision is made to move to cloud, the next question is private or public or both?
Business owners use three types of cloud services to store their data: public, private and hybrid.
Public Cloud: A public cloud service is built on an external platform run by a cloud-service provider. The provider offers everything from system resources to security and maintenance of your cloud system. A public cloud system is great for organizations that want more elasticity, cost-effectiveness and the latest technology. Public cloud services relieve you of that management burden but at the expense of some control.
Private Cloud: A private cloud service is a cloud platform that is built within customers premises using their own hardware and software. Since a private cloud is managed by the customer’s internal IT team, it is ideal for businesses that want exclusive access, more flexibility and greater control over their cloud. It definitely is a costlier cloud option.
Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud service employs both private and public clouds. In a hybrid cloud system, an organization’s own IT team manages part of the cloud in-house and the rest off-site. For instance, a hybrid cloud system is perfect for an organization that wants to manage business-related data (such as customer files) in-house but wants to store less-sensitive information with a third party. A hybrid approach makes it possible to realize the best of both worlds.
For cloud-based services, network availability & reliability is critical. This will define the reach of cloud solutions in the SMB market. Being an SMB, the cases are high that the SMB business is located in tier 2 and 3 cities of a country. Network availability to continue doing business, unhindered, will become a critical factor for Cloud Adoption.
Additionally network security is among the biggest concerns for businesses thinking about adopting cloud services. Customers need to ask tough questions and consider getting a security assessment from a neutral third party before committing to a cloud vendor.
Cloud help SMBs focus more on running their businesses and less on managing their technology. Cloud computing eliminates the need for individual companies to buy, deploy and maintain IT. The adoption of cloud computing has brought renewed focus to the software as a service (SaaS) application delivery model. Some small and medium businesses (SMBs) see SaaS as an equalizer that gives them the same application functionality as larger competitors, without incurring the massive investments in technology and resources. The SaaS app market is poised for explosive growth and the core impetus behind this surge is the SMB sector.
Big Players like SAP already have a complete ERP suite offering, targeting the SME Business. SAP Business ByDesign is ideally suited for SMEs and subsidiaries of large corporations. It is a complete, integrated suite that can run a whole enterprise including financials, human resources, sales, procurement, customer service, and supply chain. It enables organizations to increase efficiency by enabling end-to-end processes and gaining insights through integrated analytics and reporting. With key features available on mobile, it offers access to business functionality and analytics anytime and anywhere. Aided by highly secure data centers that are managed, monitored, and maintained by SAP experts, and an ever increasing partner community building add-ons using the SDK, ByDesign is a strong offering from SAP addressing the SMB needs.