Software as a Service (SaaS) is the only architecture for business applications that small and medium-sized companies should consider purchasing in 2014. Period. In my mind this battle had already been fought and won by SaaS, but I continue to come across good companies with thoughtful management teams that are still considering buying new, core business applications that run on a PC server in their office. These applications are not only more expensive, but they also trap your business in an unacceptable slow innovation cycle.
Why are these applications more expensive? For the same reason that a puppy is expensive. It’s not the cost of the puppy – you can probably have one for free from the animal shelter or the local rescue association. But you have to walk it, and train it, and feed it, and clean up the poop, and take it to the vet, and pay the fine when it bites the neighbor, and on and on. With a PC app, you have to buy hardware, back it up, install updates, maintain the operating system, install security and virus software, manage network permissions, and a whole bunch of stuff I did not mention because I have done my best to forget all this stuff from the “bad old days.” Maybe you want a puppy because you think all of that care and feeding is fun. If so, buy a PC app. If you have better things to do and better investments for your money and time, stay away.
Even if you think having a puppy is fun, you cannot afford the lack of innovation inherent in these applications. Think about your last PC app and recall how often you upgraded it to get new functionality. Almost never, right? (Exactly never is probably the honest answer). SaaS vendors deliver new functionality to all of their customers monthly, if not weekly (at ServiceTrade we release new features weekly). New and fun features just “show up” in the application – ready to use. No work required by the customer other than to explore, learn, and enjoy.
You are going to use the next core application you purchase for your business for 10 years. If you do not want to be operating in 2024 just like you do in 2014, stay away from PC server apps. These applications are already 10 years behind the times, so in reality you are making a business plan to operate in 2024 using technology that was relevant in 2004. If that doesn’t scare you away from buying a PC app, I can’t imagine what else I could say to change your mind. Enjoy the puppy.