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To SaaS or not to SaaS...

by on ‎08-18-2009 01:46 PM (5,277 Views)

With over 14 years of technology experience, 2 1/2 with Sage...I have never been asked the same question so frequently...."So when is Sage going to seriously enter the CRM SaaS market?". With 3 award winning solutions..ACT!, SageCRM and SalesLogix, one would think it would be a "no brainer"....ahhh, not so fast. The Sage culture is one of safe, controlled and profitable growth and there are just too many "moving parts" to enter the SaaS market without a sound business model. Here are a few things to think about:


"To SaaS...."


    * Low initial Cost: Cash is king. 

    * Little or no setup:  SaaS is web based therefore all you need to do is create a username/password for a new user.

    * No specialized hardware: SaaS saves on the heavy cost of developing a network infrastructure.

    * OS agnostic operating systems:  Doesn't discriminate

    * Great option for small business market: SOHO and virtual companies are a perfect fit.

    * Setup time - non-factor


"Or Not to SaaS..."


    * Speed: Internet based applications are slow. Many technologies such as AJAX and caching have helped increase performance, but other limitations, such as security, will always put SaaS behind on-premise software.

    * User adoption: Most on premise software allows you to customize, integrate into other systems

    * Integration/interoperability: On-premise software allows users to work with desktop applications and link to just about anything: accounting, shipping, contracts, quoting, and other software without heavy limitations or running security risks.

    * Security: You do not own/control your data when it sits on someone else's server

    * Tenancy: Single tenancy

    * TCO: No one can prove that TCO is better in a SaaS environment. In today's cost conscience environment, this doesn't play out well

    * Accessibility: can only access your data when you have access to the web unlike the benefits of a disconnected client of on-premise software


The market is dynamic and rapidly changing. There are only a few clear growth sectors in the software industry and CRM is one of them, but is SaaS truly the answer? Are there other alternatives? What about HaaS (hardware as a service)? Let me close this line of thinking by saying with confidence.."Sage has some fantastic ideas on the near to immediate horizon. Solutios that won't leave a client questioning whether they should or shouldn't migrate to the cloud but ones that provide the best options for clients, whether it's in the cloud or on-premise. Lots of exciting announcements coming from Sage in early Fall 2009!

on ‎11-22-2020 07:32 AM

Here's what would be helpful: A resource to help users choose between SaaS and on-site or desktop (on my own computer only hosting).


What features does one lose when moving to the SaaS on the cloud?


I'm a user who relies hourly on record exports to provide data for mail merge in Word. Why not just make the word processor preference in Act! point to Word? Because somewhere in the translation from Act! to Word, the ability to use data manipulation fields in Word is lost. Example:  Word main document has an "if-then" field that would test the contents of a data field from Act! and either insert text on the basis of the field content (true condition) or insert different or no text if the tested-for value is not in the field (false condition). Try it. It doesn't work.


So exporting data is very important to get the value out of the programming necessary to create complex documents in Word. Why not Access instead? Because Access doesn't have a pretty slick interface with easily adjusted layouts the way Act! does. Kudos to Act!


I learned recently the ability to export a record according to a field map, a functionality that has been part of the desktop app since way back (1992?), IS NOT AVAILABLE in the SaaS version. Deal-breaker. It is now 2020. Version 23 will be out soon, and this is still the condition.


It may not be a deal-breaker for most, but I've come to rely on it so much in the law practice that I have willingly suffered the ineptitude of various vendors who have attempted to wrangle with Act! and make it work in their business models (Contact Software, Symantec,  Symantec, Interact Commerce Corporation, Sage, Swiftpage). Either bringing the code up to date is a herculean task, or some talented programmers have gone unemployed while those less blessed have kept their jobs. So low initial cost for SaaS may be a leader for some, I cannot imagine re-engineering my entire practice to accommodate something that is not likely to work. 


So every year has to have new features to generate revenue, even from the dinosaurs who still use the desktop program. Now that it is an annual license, the impetus to make it indispensable is all the stronger. We can't lose users because someone else is ahead of us. The thing is, if you would just make sure the core feature set is replicated in a manner long-term users are not lost in the process, you might actually succeed at keeping users. 


The SaaS product should be able to do EVERYTHING the desktop product can do with greater speed and accuracy or it is just a different product and should be marketed as such. Call it Act for dummies if it isn't Act! for desktop but on the cloud. Nothing else to learn, just a new place to store your data and a faster, more robust means of accessing it. Cash isn't king, Data is king, and accuracy is its prince. 


The lead post above was made in August 2009. This user has been looking into moving to the cloud (and tried it once... that trick didn't work!) since then. Ten years of the life of the product has not provided this desktop-user reason sufficient to move. So it's like marketing a station wagon to an SUV driver. Why?


End of my 2020 rant.