I came across this Gartner report, which among other topics, details the increasingly rapid expansion of SaaS customer service and support applications. By 2012, 30 percent of these systems will be purchased through the SaaS deployment model.
But what I found interesting was the fact that clients were experiencing project savings of 25 to 40 percent by deploying SaaS CRM applications…but not due to reduced implementation times and start-up costs. They were making these savings from reduced dependency on large external service providers, consultants, and system integrators.
But as the author points out:
[These services] typically help business improve customer processes as part of the CRM engagement but which play less of a role when SaaS is involved.
It’s an interesting Catch-22 that the vendors, customers, and service providers find themselves in. Independent system integrators have long though SaaS might mean the death of their business, but as plenty of SaaS implementations have proven, you still need the expertise, either in-house or hired, to make sure the customer-facing processes work. In the meantime, customers could be undermining their implementations if they take SaaS for granted and the implemented technology doesn’t properly support the business processes.
The bottom line is this: the independent system integrators and consultants are reinventing themselves for the SaaS-driven world we live in today; a new breed of consultant, so to speak. They should get by just fine, and their value to a SaaS implementation should never be underestimated.
At the same time, I think it’s important that customers don’t overestimate the power of SaaS. It’s not the silver bullet that so many within this industry have exclaimed it to be in years past. If the processes are broken, or aren’t right, no amount of reduced implementation costs and startup fees can solve that.