Cisco recently conducted a focus group with executive level IT decision makers in several major metropolitan cities to better understand enterprise perception of Software as a Service (SaaS). Having been in the SaaS business over 12+ years with the Cisco WebEx portfolio, some of the findings validated what we’ve known all along. For example, when asked why they have chosen or are considering SaaS, they mentioned that SaaS offered more favorable licensing models, quicker ROI and faster implementation versus on-premise solutions. Some of the major perceived hurdles against SaaS remained the same, including significant concerns over interconnectivity with existing infrastructure and loss of control. These perceived threats, they felt, may slow the adoption of SaaS and limit the applications an enterprise is willing to have moved over to SaaS.
Despite these concerns, what was surprising was that many, if not all, have deployed or were considering moving many of the core applications to SaaS. They listed the following applications, unaided, that could move to SaaS: mainstream applications such as e-mail, calendaring, and IM, Office-type related applications, project management, accounts payable/ receivable, ERP, CRM, payroll and HR systems. These responses are further validated in a report titled Unified Communications and Collaboration Need SaaS-Based Delivery to Thrive by Zeus Kerravala at Yankee Group.
So what did we learn from the focus groups? First, that the pace of SaaS deployment is accelerating. Second, Cisco is in a unique position to remove the perceived hurdles against SaaS by investing in the network infrastructure that delivers unmatched security, control and deployment flexibility. And third, that the collaborative applications such as email, calendaring, IM and web conferencing are ripe for a new deployment model.
by Alex Hadden Boyd, director of marketing, Cisco Collaboration Software Group