SaaS and Business Complexity

I started taking public transport for my daily commute to the office recently and signed up for a commuter program. I was surprised by the complexity of the process that I had to go through just to buy a subsidized commuter pass. I wondered why they would make it so difficult for people to use this service if they want to make more people use it. Then it dawned on me — business process complexity is often imposed by the choice of supporting business applications. This is what we call “square peg in a round hole” phenomenon.

But why do companies end up with such applications in the era of cutting edge products in the market? One of the primary advantages of a cloud-based application is the greatly reduced cost of ownership. However, many a times businesses get lured into choosing applications that are cheaper, but lacking the ability to fully address their business requirements. In the “on-premise” world, this situation would have been dealt with a lot of customizations on the product, resulting in increased implementation costs. However in the SaaS world, most applications tend to be “one size fits all” products that are rigid toward the customer’s specific requirements. A majority of the cheaper cloud-based applications tend to support very simple and basic business processes that may be suitable only for a few small conventional businesses. But larger or unconventional businesses need better applications that can handle the complexity of their businesses. Businesses need to consider products that are enterprise ready and can naturally address their requirements. Companies that try to cut corners end up being stuck with broken or “duct-taped” processes which ultimately result in loss of customers and revenue. I was experiencing one such duct-taped process with my commuter pass purchase. If a cloud-based payment system were available that was tailored to the complexity of public transportation, it could make the commute a bit less of a hassle.

Shashi Kedilaya

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Shashi Kedilaya
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The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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