Walt Kristick, CIO & Senior VP, Shared Services, APEX Analytix
New or innovative technologies take time to go mainstream, people and companies are cautious (or sometimes shortsighted), and could be slow to see the value in changing from a system that has worked for them for years. One notable example is the radio. An early investor is reported to have completely dismissed the concept of broadcast media with the words, “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?”
Most businesses became familiar with SaaS (Software as a Service) within the last 15 years via Salesforce CRM software, Office 365 or Google apps. However the initial willingness of people and companies to embrace SaaS was slow and filled with doubt.“What’s the cloud?” “Is it safe?” “Am I putting my company at risk for fraud?”
“ Most businesses became familiar with SaaS (Software as a Service) within the last 15 years via Salesforce CRM software, Office 365 or Google apps ”
These were necessary conversations in the early stages of SaaS. But SaaS has now reached critical mass. Today’s conversations should be focused on where and how to optimize the profitability implications SaaS technology offers. Benefits such as:
- Reduced total cost of ownership
- Fewer up-front expenses
- Faster deployment
- Updates made instantly without disrupting product use/lengthy downtime for scheduling
- Technology that scales instantly
- The freeing up of IT and internal resources
- The recent ability to augment and enrich data through API tools
SaaS in the AP Industry
Let’s look at an example of how this works. Most Fortune 1000 companies rely on vendor portals to capture and manage supplier master data. However, a recent focus group comprised of executives from Global 1000 organizations found these companies needed a way to validate and enrich their vendor master records. This advisory board, in particular, noted issues with not only cleaning their vendor master, but maintaining an accurate, complete and reliable vendor master over time. Thirty percent of all overpayments and related profit leakage stem from duplicate or erroneous vendor master records. The report indicated companies were traditionally seeking to validate records in one of three ways:
- Appending data acquired from third-party sources
- Manually cleaning up vendor master records and validating against external websites
- Implementing web-based portals for suppliers to review and maintain their own records
Supplier portal SaaS solutions that allow companies to maintain their own master records with their customers are the future. But portals can also be intelligent, and include the ability to robotically, instantaneously and continually validate records with minimal involvement from either the buyer or supplier.
By proactively and autonomously keeping records clean and updated, the technology behind the most advanced SaaS portals has the potential to revolutionize how records on an individual or company are maintained, across industries.
Is SaaS Securing?
Concerns over security have, and always will be, a part of any SaaS discussion. Large, international companies, in particular, face more integration and compliance issues. The biggest security issue I’ve seen comes not from the technology itself, but from users bypassing their own company-wide security policies and procedures. Since people are now in a shared-on-demand environment, there seems to be a proclivity to set up their own access accounts or do other things that their company’s own security controls would normally prevent. The answer to this is to have documented policies and procedures for handling data in the cloud, as well as using SaaS vendors who provide sophisticated data-loss prevention and penetration walls with encrypted data and multifactor authentication.
One of the biggest challenges in any industry is efficiently and effectively managing and using the enormous amount of data available to us to improve our businesses. SaaS has proven over time to offer the safeguards and ability to displace costly on-premises data centers and equipment services with constantly monitored and updated information that is delivered faster and integrated with your company’s systems for optimal performance and ROI.