Knowing the cloud and business landscapes is half the battle to maximize business value and future-proofing, argues this expert.

In a matter of years, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) capabilities have become critical to an organization’s functioning. As the pandemic forces organizations everywhere to accelerate their digital transformation roadmaps, the latest digital technologies such as Cloud, AI/machine learning, and internet of things (IoT) have led to a new wave of innovation with demand for plug-and-play software solutions.

In the current pandemic-enforced hyper-digital environment that businesses operate in, CIOs must remain up-to-date on the latest SaaS developments and how they can be efficiently applied to effect continual change for the organization.

Gearing up for change

In just a few months, cloud computing has been applied to nearly every industry, across the public and private sectors, to answer a variety of challenges that, prior to the pandemic, businesses would not likely have faced.

For instance, the growth of home-based telehealth and telemedicine options—enabled by customized, vertical SaaS solutions such as the Health Cloud in Singapore—has been spurred on by overburdened clinics and hospitals. This growth has helped organizations meet the direct need for more accessible healthcare, and also led to innovative solutions to other challenges such as improving the ageing experience for the elderly.

The pandemic has without a doubt helped organizations develop a far more realistic appreciation of the importance of SaaS applications in meeting changing consumer needs, workforce enablement, ensuring business continuity and helping de-risk operations. However, a key challenge that many CIOs may face in today’s market is deciding which business processes need to be moved to the cloud, what applications would work best, and how they can fit them into their businesses.

Knowing the landscape is half the battle—CIOs need to stay informed about the latest SaaS applications relevant to their specific business needs, both current and future. By adopting a componentized approach to IT infrastructure, CIOs can have a holistic overview of how each business function operates—for instance, how service requests are processed, how payment systems can be improved, or how web traffic is managed.

This level of flexibility and visibility will lead to more informed decisions on opportunities for transformation and optimisation with SaaS applications leading to frictionless, seamless and integrated processes and operations.

Additionally, besides focusing on what makes the organizational machine tick, CIOs must also plan for their people. With remote workforce being the need of the hour, a paradigm shift in talent management and employee engagement is emerging. As organizations grapple with this shift, SaaS solutions are offering a compelling value proposition around employee engagement for increased productivity and customer satisfaction.

Similarly, with the business case for AI in business processes gaining momentum, CIOs should be prepared to develop talent that is proficient in working alongside digital colleagues, such as software robots. As the SaaS landscape continues to move towards deep verticalization, organizations will need to hire vertical experts that are well versed in every aspect of a specific industry’s software needs.

New SaaS applications entail new skillsets to keep things running smoothly; businesses must take stock of the skills that their workers currently possess, and how best they can inculcate the skills needed in the future.

Maximizing value and future-proofing

With the right foundation of knowledge, business leaders can start thinking about how to maximize their business value through the integration and application of SaaS solutions.

Verticalization has become a massive part of the SaaS market, and vendors are recognizing that enterprises want SaaS solutions that cater holistically to their organizational needs. By finding the right end-to-end SaaS solution that it can rely on for running various operations, an enterprise can subsequently afford the freedom to focus on developing or adapting its core business.

For instance, a cloud-based fintech is helping banks throughout the APAC region adapt to changing customer needs and transition towards much-needed digital banking offerings, by forming the technological foundation that allows financial institutions to make changes to their systems at any given time, switch between vendors as and when needed, or add new products within days.

With the capabilities that such SaaS applications can provide, enterprises can focus on enhancing their existing services, or deriving completely-new avenues to unlock business value.

So many choices

As things stand, it is easy for businesses to get caught up with the deluge of options available to them, and think of only the here and now.

True, SaaS applications have been around for a while, but today, it is no longer a simple task to define where the enterprise begins, and where the SaaS application ends. Therefore, it is imperative for the CIO to lead a cloud transformation exercise aligned to the strategic objectives of the organization.

If there is one lesson the C-suite should take away from the evolution of SaaS applications, it is to constantly stay informed, assess changing business needs, and plan to stay one step ahead of the competition leveraging SaaS to build a competitive moat for future growth.