In this the next of a multi-part report asking about the future of IT in 2021, we look at the specific topics of "as a Service" in 2021. Will this sector take off? Here's what the executives had to say.
This is the question we posed: "Having endured the weirdest year any of us could have imagined, what will be different in 2021?"
Richard Marr, General Manager, APAC, Auth0 introduces the topic by describing, "A unique trend is emerging with larger enterprises undergoing a cultural shift, moving from selecting traditional large systems integrators to selecting specialist vendors to implement turnkey projects. As larger enterprises modernise, there is also greater appetite for adopting cloud native solutions and open source programs."
Brent Doncaster, Director of Marketing, NetFoundry continues this, "The adoption of "as-a-service" models and consumption-based pricing will continue its strong march forward. This will power economic agility - the countries that get this right will have a potential economic advantage - because being "agile" on a country level scale lowers the cost of entry for new innovative companies - you no longer need to raise huge bundles of capital in order to build new enterprises/companies. So, innovation accelerates."
Doncaster continues by outlining new approaches to the outlay of funds, "That said - existing organisations will continue to be cost 'conscious' but in new ways - spend will be focused and highly prioritized on areas deemed essential for digital success - of course this will vary organisation by organisation. Think about the challenges facing the global fossil fuel enterprises… big challenges."
Jonathan Attia, Managing Director, Wiise agrees with Doncaster, although framing the problem as an attempt to increase corporate flexibility. "The rise of XaaS models will boost business agility, enabling organisations to innovate and digitally transform their businesses with minimal IT costs. They'll be able to efficiently deploy new solutions without massive disruptions in overall operations."
Attia continues, "Large CAPEX investment in the configuration and implementation of technology solutions, including SaaS applications will be a thing of the past. Setup/implementation wizards will reduce complexity and will become part of SaaS opex costs, and tools and extensions will be built to build simplicity and repeatability around this. Everything will be more on tap, on demand, and more agile, with subscribing the preferred option rather than buying outright. No one wants to get left with expensive, fast-obsolescing legacy tech."
Marr gives us a great example: "For instance, outsourcing identity management to cloud CIAM vendors helps organisations initiate, capture, record, and manage user identities and their access permissions, without having to keep an army of specialist engineers in house 24/7. This not only saves time and resources, but most crucially gives businesses an easier way to gather and use data to make smarter business decisions, alongside providing greater personalisation for the content it provides individual users."
Erin Mikan, Channel Sales Manager, Hitachi Vantara Australia and New Zealand brings us back to the primary reason this is being considered. "We have seen many businesses shift their business models to continue to serve their customers under lockdown conditions. As they re- activate their traditional business, they will look to continue or merge their new digital businesses alongside.
"Where they have distinct vertical offerings, they must assess which of those were severely impacted this year and identify those that were Pandemic Proof. For example, one of our partners provides a Backup as a Service / Storage as a Service (BUaaS / STaaS) offering for SMBs which performed best of all their solutions during the lockdowns. We are already seeing some of our customers and partners strengthening their vertical offerings that have proven to be successful, to provide future recession/disaster proofing."
Matt Goss, managing director, SAP Concur Australia and New Zealand is of a similar mind. "The need for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is accelerating to meet requirements of the new digital business environment, which includes accommodating the surge of mobile devices being used for both business and personal purposes. The boundaries between business and consumerism will continue to merge.
"This places a much greater demand on existing and new SaaS solutions to help manage ongoing business transformation, while ensuring business continuity and the security of organisational data and applications. In the wake of COVID-19 and the move to remote work, SAP Concur has seen a significant shift to SaaS-based expense and travel management systems, which are replacing manual financial and travel processes that simply no longer work in a largely remotely-based work environment.
"SaaS also has an important ongoing role in progressing smarter regions and improving environmental sustainability. One simple example of this is expense and travel management, where SaaS solutions can more seamlessly connect travel and accommodation providers across geographic boundaries, while also eliminating the need for paper-based receipts, invoicing and reporting."
Andy Hurt, Managing Director ANZ, Poly offers an example specific to his own business by noting, "We're going to see the As-a-Service model app take off with enterprise grade teleconferencing hardware. Similar to the way a consumer might bundle the price of a smartphone with their phone bill, we expect to see telcos moving into this space, offering headsets, speakerphones, video bars and other conferencing technology on a month-to-month paid plan.
"For organisations - particularly small to medium businesses - spreading the cost of the tech investment across a number of years provides the flexibility for businesses to invest in the highest quality equipment for the best experience for their employees."
Pointing to another driver causing this shift, Mikan notes that "Another impact was the realisation that Public Cloud is finite in times of crisis. Due to the massive uptake of work from home, Software as a Service (SaaS) tools, and sudden need for mass collaboration, certain Public Cloud environments could not scale quickly enough to meet rapidly growing demand, and found themselves needing to prioritise customers - mainly first responders - whilst deferring onboarding less urgent customers.
"Considering that realisation, having seen outages and latency challenges during 2020, and companies having to defer more broad IT projects, we anticipate that in 2021 many organisations will be reviewing their cloud economics and revisiting their Hybrid / Multi-cloud strategies."
Ilan Rubin, managing director, Wavelink offers some kind of summary."my organisation predicts an accelerated shift to cloud-based delivery of applications and services, contributing towards growth in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and annuity OPEX in place of CAPEX models. This will be combined with ensuring data integrity, including where sensitive data is hosted and who has access to it.
"We also expect the integration of collaboration tools into any platform from any device."
It seems the executives we spoke with are in agreement that 2021 will se a significant rise in the 'as-a-service' model, albeit for a wide variety of reasons.