Today, businesses recognize Software as a Service (SaaS) as an accepted way to deliver applications, but it was not always that way. Companies began adopting this strategy in the late 1990’s, but it didn’t really take hold as a widespread practice until the mid 2000’s.
I was fortunate to witness the transition firsthand as part of LeanLogistics, a SaaS pioneer in the supply chain space. We founded the company in 1999, in an era where enterprise software was always installed on-premise. But, over the course of just a few years, that mindset completely shifted as companies moved through the adoption curve to fully embrace this new way of doing business.
So why is SaaS so powerful? Here are three reasons:
Today’s world of API-enabled online services makes it infinitely easier to link disparate systems, and create visibility to information in new ways. This added visibility helps to eliminate information silos, which continue to thrive in enterprises of all sizes, but especially in those that have a mix of software systems.
We’ve built Local Orbit as an “integration friendly” platform, driven by API’s to connect external systems and data that can drive significant value for each customer individually, as well as the collective network as a whole. This means that we’re agnostic to where data comes from, or how it gets to us. That’s important because we know that customers use everything from Excel spreadsheets to sophisticated ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems to manage their business, so we need to provide the linkages that make it easy for them to do business with us.
SaaS delivers tremendous value to companies without them having to own or manage physical hardware, or having to deal with the headaches of updating software. New features can be deployed in days, as opposed to months or even years, as all customers are always using the same version of the software. In a true SaaS environment, all customer information resides in a central data warehouse, so that the network’s “information exhaust” that is generated by daily transactions can easily be aggregated and leveraged to create even more value for every customer.
This is exactly how we deliver our solution. We release new versions of our software every couple of weeks with new enhancements, or tweaks to existing capabilities, based on customer feedback.
Local Orbit believes in the power and flexibility of SaaS. In fact, we use dozens of other cloud providers to manage our own business, which enables us to provide more powerful tools to help the suppliers and buyers on our platform manage and grow their businesses.
Indeed, the future of business – and the future of sustainable supply chains and local economies – is in connected software services that balance business process and data standards with flexibility and deep configurability that enable businesses to efficiently provide unique, localized value.