I came across this interview with the CEO of Lawson Software, who boldly predicts that the SaaS “industry will collapse,” starting with Salesforce.com in the next two years, and everything SaaS-related after that. In a nutshell, Debes argues that the current SaaS model is heading down the same road that previous iterations, such as the ASP model, headed.
I couldn’t disagree more, but than again it was also Harry Debes that predicted that many of today’s Web 2.0, cell phone gadgets would never catch on either. SaaS is certainly here to say. In the context of CRM alone, it’s given many smaller companies the access to CRM functionality traditionally reserved for enterprises. It also offers companies the option to switch providers more easily (or at least more easily than proprietary-based on-premise providers).
Like any technological endeavor, nothing is perfect the first time. SaaS has since evolved since the days of the ASP model into a more perfected model, albeit still imperfect. Where I do agree with Debes, or at least in the context of deployment options, is that SaaS is not the end-all, be-all solution that so many providers such as Salesforce would have you believe. SaaS’ initial misgivings were the same as on-premise solutions 10+ years ago: they didn’t offer enough flexibility. As always, too many industry leaders within this sector continue to fail to realize that flexibility lies outside the realm of a particular deployment model. The hosted model brings plenty of advantages to a business environment when the situation calls for it, but so does on-premise. Offering customers both options, and the flexibility and software architecture to switch between the two, is where the future of IT is heading.