An Introduction To SaaS (Software As a Service)
Software as a Service (SaaS) is one of the most important components of the cloud computing. It is seen as a departure from the old client-server architecture model of computing, and as a natural extension of the Web 2.0 push for web-based applications. With SaaS, gone are the concerns over licensing of software packages, installing updates and patches, setting up training sessions with vendors, upgrading the hardware needed to run the programs, keeping a dedicated IT staff to maintain the servers, and other costs associated with the old client-server model.
Early examples of SaaS can be traced back to Hotmail, the now ubiquitous e-mail service owned by Microsoft. Back in 1996, Hotmail was a novelty for Internet users who were used to installing e-mail programs on their computers or getting their e-mail from online providers such as America Online and CompuServe. With the new Hotmail, users could not only get their new messages from any computer connected to the Internet, but they could also access their archived messages and address books at any time. Even startup businesses began to adopt Hotmail as it did not require a server or software installation.
Some of the first “true SaaS” applications were designed for the business world. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems were first made available as a subscription in the early part of the 21st century. CRM systems evolved from what has become a paradigm shift in the business process: the integrated management of the customer experience. From contact management to sales force automation, and from customer service to point of sale, the value of CRM systems have truly transformed the business process.
With SaaS, the programs needed by an individual or an enterprise are hosted remotely and delivered over the Internet. This is an ideal proposition for a startup MLM business owner with specific software needs. In the past, a startup business was faced with making costly hardware investments and building up enough IT assets just to get their operation going. The administration portion of the business alone required software solutions like a productivity suite such as Microsoft Office, or an accounting program like QuickBooks. Thanks to the advent of SaaS, a startup MLM does not have to worry about all that.
An internet-connected device equipped with an up-to-date and compatible web browser is often all it takes for a startup business to take advantage of SaaS. Let’s say, for example, that a startup MLM needs a CRM solution in order to begin their sales and recruiting operations. A reasonably modern personal computer (or laptop, netbook, or even an iPhone) and a consultation with a SaaS provider might be the sum of the requirements necessary to get things started. Once the startup business has been given the web address and credentials needed to login to the software, the new business may begin to organize its contact database, develop a sales strategy, create marketing materials, make bookkeeping entries in a ledger, and even more depending on the type of CRM options chosen.
SaaS can work just like magic for a startup MLM business that aims to “test the waters” first or to begin operating modestly. Another advantage of SaaS is that it is highly scalable, meaning that its capacity can grow along with the business and at the same pace. And since all aspects of maintaining the software are left to the SaaS provider, the startup business owner can spend more time concentrating on growing the business instead of worrying about IT issues.