Modern cloud-delivered business applications are a good fit for organizations without large in-house IT departments, and bring the additional benefits of rapid deployment, standardized processes, and regular releases of new functionality, while taking away much of the management overhead and capital investment associated with on-premise applications. Major software providers are increasingly tailoring their propositions to fit the SME market as well as larger enterprises, bringing the benefits of these applications to a wider audience.
Enterprises of all sizes should review their business application portfolios and evaluate the opportunities to adopt modern SaaS applications, using a business process–led approach. Heads of business functions, including chief HR officers, chief finance officers, and chief marketing officers, have a key role to play in leading the modernization of the systems supporting their respective areas, but should also collaborate with CIOs and chief digital officers to ensure that data can be easily integrated across these domains, to enable company-wide insights.
For SMEs, these modern applications present a strong opportunity to compete on a more level playing field, and to focus on business objectives for growth, without the headache of upfront investment and ongoing management of IT systems where these are not a core part of the business proposition. SMEs should carefully consider the role of an implementation partner in their project, selecting a company with the right expertise (including vertical industry experience where appropriate), but also seeking a partner of appropriate size that will be able to deliver both sufficient attention and strong levels of service. For SMEs, there is often additional benefit in adopting an integrated suite of business applications from a single vendor, removing the need to manage multiple suppliers and the interfaces between them.
From a vendor perspective, for SME customers especially, the partner network is likely to be their main point of contact, so it is vital that these channels are carefully selected and effectively supported, with clear lines of communication. Many vendors have instigated cloud-specific partner programs or specializations, and this can help to improve the professionalism of partners in this area.
Application software vendors should ensure that their solutions are focused on line-of-business needs and make it as easy as possible for customers to acquire, implement, and realize the benefits of their cloud applications. Data fed back from customers through application usage can be aggregated to create powerful insights into areas for improvement, and to provide rapid feedback to product management and development teams.
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