In the hopes of going down the path of least resistance, software buyers have always faced a dichotomy of choices to best address their automation challenges. In the 1990s, due to the limited capabilities and complex reality of enterprise software, the “Build vs. Buy” argument dominated their decision making process. Disparate technologies, legacy systems and newer applications all forced to live under the same roof resulted in a labor intensive infrastructure requiring an extensive amount of time and effort to deliver the expected automation capabilities demanded by leading organizations. Consequently, the choice of organizations building software from the ground up in some cases were viable considering the high priced TCO of purchasing and maintaining off-the-shelf solutions.
As the industry matured in the early 2000s and the cost of software development dropped while Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Cloud technologies came on the scene, the commoditization of enterprise software was becoming a reality and the need to “build a generator in your own backyard to produce your own electricity” no longer made sense. Utility computing was on the rise with Cloud vendors paving the way, showcasing the benefits of SaaS and the “No Software” argument in the “Cloud vs. On-Premise” battle. With the on-premise enterprise software model engrained in businesses for over 20 years, this was not an easy battle to win. Teaching an old dog new tricks meant convincing businesses to cut the umbilical cord and have software vendors manage their systems and the security surrounding them. As the comfort level in SaaS and Cloud technology slowly emerged as the technology of choice, the face of enterprise software was fundamentally changed.
Within the last ten years, the Cloud has drastically changed the way organizations look at enterprise software. The costly fear of ripping and replacing existing on-premise systems is gradually being replaced by Cloud offerings that no longer present this problem. The Cloud has levelled the playing field, empowering even the smallest of organizations to deploy enterprise-grade applications to help run their businesses. Moreover, the age old dilemma of choosing between an integrated approach and a best-of-breed strategy is changing. The idea that an integrated solution needs to be delivered from a single vendor is becoming obsolete. In fact, Salesforce.com, Upland Software and others have demonstrated that through a cloud platform, an ecosystem of customers and partners offering viable vertical solutions have proven that integrated offerings no longer have to be a mile wide and an inch deep.
As Cloud solutions have come to the forefront, the trailblazers of the SaaS industry have shown that they can maintain their best-of-breed existence in their respective markets, while their partners and customers continue to leverage their Cloud platform to develop industry specific and best-of-breed solutions fully integrated with their offering. As a result, this proven model has laid the groundwork for multiple cloud platforms to appear on the scene, providing the framework for best-of-breed vendors to not only compete with their integrated software counterparts, but beat them at their own game. In fact, a new breed of vendors offering Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) capabilities (e.g. Boomi by Dell) have recently emerged to provide best-of-breed Cloud vendors with a leg up to easily integrate with other cloud providers. Similar to the out-of-the-box extended functionality offered up by traditional integrated software solutions, Cloud best-of-breed solutions now can deliver deeper functionality with the value-added benefit of a fully integrated platform to exchange data and build connections with other systems.
CLOUD + PSA = SKY’S THE LIMIT
Whether you are mature organization that needs to fill in the professional services automation (PSA) gap in your business process or you’re a business looking to build your PSA solution from the ground up, today’s Cloud PSA has made it effortless to address your current automation challenges. For this reason alone, services businesses of all flavors are adopting a Cloud strategy for all their enterprise software needs. Moreover, the standardization of technology offered by the Cloud has provided the flexibility and scalability often required to effectively address the various PSA needs of services firms. The Cloud has provided professional services organizations with the ability to phase in the critical missing automation pieces without worrying about going down a road where there is a point of no return.
As the professional services market changes, businesses need to have the ability to quickly change directions on a dime. Soon, the days of legacy software that forces you to adapt to its limitations will be long gone. In response, Cloud technology aims to provide a “plug and play” model where changing, enhancing and expanding on current and existing systems will become as easy as switching internet providers. As a result, this has greatly benefited the professional services consumer in ensuring PSA providers deliver the best in functionality and service to meet their demands. As for the PSA providers, the Cloud has broadened their footprint in effectively servicing and delivering a better ROI to a wider market due to the more affordable delivery of PSA. In turn, the future of the PSA industry will deliver a more accessible portfolio of solutions, better addressing the automation needs of the professional services industry.
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 15 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.
To learn more about Upland Software’s Enterprise PSA offering PSA go to: uplandsoftware.com/psa