Beware the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (aka, watch out for fake SaaS)

May 28, 2013
Julie Roy
Cover image: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

If you are a CFO, treasurer, or a member of a treasury team, you are probably hearing myriad conflicting viewpoints around what is true cloud-based SaaS (software as a service).

In all the years spent in the SaaS space, I have encountered many software providers parading as wolves in sheep’s clothing, but they are actually just hosted versions of legacy software. Despite what some people may have you think, hosting software in the cloud doesn’t necessarily make it software as a service.

In a recent conversation with a treasurer of a Global 2000 company, he asked me “does it matter?”  I told him it sure does.  And here are examples why.  It should also be noted that the reasons are not technical, but rather financial, operational, product and customer support reasons.

1) Hosted solutions are not multi-tenant. This means that the vendor does not provide only one version of their application.  Which means that the vendor has to support numerous versions, train numerous support staff on different products, which means less focused support for you.  And significantly higher costs to support all versions that are passed onto… you.  Quick question to ask your vendor – “How many versions do you support?”  If the answer isn’t “one,” they are not true multi-tenant SaaS.
 
2) Hosted solution providers are not innovating; they are trying to support, maintain and service all the versions their clients are using. They simply don’t have time nor have the financial means to innovate.  In fact, a recent survey stated that legacy finance software solutions are 10 years behind and provide little to no innovation, maintenance and customer service.  With true SaaS, they vendor is innovating on and providing support for one version of their application, and are continually collecting the intelligence of their users, and building that back into the product for everyone to use and benefit from.  That means exponentially more innovation, better user interface and overall client experience.
 
3) Hosted solutions are not fun. Think Google vs. Microsoft. Would you rather access the latest and greatest products from Google by simply turning on your laptop and firing up your browser, or would you prefer to purchase and maintain the latest version of Microsoft's applications?  ‘Nuff said.

If you are considering purchasing a treasury and risk management solution, I would caution that you ask your vendor these and other questions. Purchasing a true cloud SaaS solution could have a critical impact on your company’s success.