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How SaaS platforms are closing the digital divide

SaaS
(Image credit: Image Credit: Wright Studio / Shutterstock)

Digital transformation is currently a huge talking point and there is good reason for this. Unlike so many other business buzz phrases that come and go, digital transformation is fundamental to business success. It is optimizing the way that enterprises operate in line with customer expectations and is proving vital in today’s increasingly competitive environment.

Over the last 12 months, digital transformation has been rapidly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. A study by McKinsey & Company estimates the pandemic has sped up digital transformation by as much as seven years. With social distancing restrictions forcing businesses to quickly change the way they operate and function; digitization has been essential to survival across so many sectors. 

When Hubilo’s revenues plummeted to zero as a direct result of the pandemic, we pivoted our SaaS model to aid digital transformation in the events industry. Initially we had built a platform that supported the management of physical events, but within 26 days of the pandemic impacting our revenues we built an entirely new SaaS product from the ground up to cater for organizations that needed to host their internal and external events online. Within a year we have secured $28 million in funding and grown our company headcount from 30 to 200 plus and counting.

While our story highlights how SaaS businesses have been built from the requirement for digital transformation, SaaS products are also enabling digital transformation in enterprises that cannot afford to build their own proprietary technology. Put simply, SaaS is helping to close the digital divide.

Sizing up the digital divide 

The move from on premise software deployment to cloud deployment has paved the way for SaaS. Traditionally enterprises used solutions deployed on their premises which required specialists who could handle that particular software. This was incredibly costly and is one reason for the digital divide we see today. 

On one side of the digital divide are the enterprises with the seemingly infinite access to the money, digital skills and resources required to build or have their own technologies and platforms built that they can run their businesses on. On the other side of the divide are the businesses that recognize the need to digitize but lack access to the relevant skills, resources and vast sums of money required to enable digitization. 

Enterprises that have a digital advantage will be able to build sustainable and successful business models, while those that lack a digital advantage could be left playing catch-up. Fortunately for those disadvantaged companies, enterprise SaaS can save the day.

Closing the gap

Most of us have experienced SaaS products in our daily lives. In a personal context, when we’re steaming music on Spotify or visual content on Netflix, we’re using a SaaS product. We pay a subscription and have access to a world-class platform that adds value to our lives. Enterprise SaaS products work in pretty much the same way and the value that they add includes increasing competitiveness and building resilience. The best part is, most SaaS platforms are set up for rapid integration meaning enterprises can start getting value from them instantly. 

Essentially, you could transform your entire business by replacing outdated legacy systems in your IT infrastructure with enterprise SaaS products, from engaging and measuring interactions with your customers through a CRM platform such as HubSpot, enabling collaboration in the dispersed workforce with Slack, to reaching and engaging with global markets and winning new leads a using a virtual and hybrid events platform.

At Hubilo we use a series of SaaS platforms and these all provide value in their own ways, from a small pop up on our website that promotes an introductory offer to A/B testing our email campaigns, to the meatier aspects of the business such as design tools, accounting software, project management and HR and CRM platforms. We feed data from the SaaS platforms we use into a business intelligence dashboard which helps us make intelligent business decisions based on quality data from across the business. 

There can be a number of different SaaS providers offering similar tools and the beauty of the SaaS market is that enterprises can try out the platforms to see how they work for their business without making any substantial financial commitments. But with so many platforms to choose from, how can an enterprise recognize the right SaaS provider?

What to look for in a SaaS provider 

When evaluating different SaaS providers, it’s vital that their solutions enable integrations with a wide variety of other SaaS platforms. This enables all of your systems to talk to each other so this is the most important thing to look out for. The boom in SaaS platforms has made integration between different platforms a lot easier compared to the complexities experienced in the early days of SaaS.   

A good SaaS provider should also have a business continuity plan in place. This is important because the SaaS platform will store a lot of your business data. From a security perspective they should also have the right certifications and compliances in place such as ISO standards and GDPR so that you have the peace of mind that your data is properly managed and protected. 

Enterprises can understandably have concerns around ROI when they’re looking at SaaS platforms. A good SaaS provider will offer enterprises their platform on a pay-as-you-go or usage-based model meaning there is no large investment required at the outset and enterprises can pay a fair and manageable amount that is level with the value they’re getting from the platform. Many platforms also offer additional features available at an extra cost which enterprises can gradually begin to pay for as they scale up.

Removing the barriers to transformation 

Costs and concerns around the complexity of integration are common barriers to digital transformation, but enterprises are clearing these barriers and making a success of their transformation journeys thanks to SaaS solutions. As cloud migration and integrations between SaaS platforms continue to increase, it is becoming easier and easier to build or pivot entire businesses using SaaS platforms. In times as challenging and unpredictable as these, when the need for digital transformation is clearer than ever, enterprises should be looking to SaaS solutions to build flexibility, resilience and scalability into their business models. 

Vaibhav Jain, CEO and Founder, Hubilo