How smarter SaaS management will unlock growth in cloud services revenue

June 23, 2020

Smarter SaaS services have been viewed as a big trend for the coming year.

Gartner has forecasted a total contraction of approximately 8% in worldwide investment in IT during this year due to the impact of the pandemic. This will add further challenges for industries and increase the opportunities and competition for bringing new innovative services to the market. One area predicted to increase in business value is SaaSops, as a result of the surge of cloud development. 

Carl Lehmann of DevOps business 451 research explains that while SaaSops is essentially operation management for SaaS applications, it is becoming more important. Most cloud management systems manage cloud services from AWS, Google or Microsoft but Lehmann points out that what these services don’t do is manage SaaS applications, which are different from infrastructure services. 

SaaSops will explore customer rights and privileges, insights into user types and what those capabilities are. SaaS applications can differ completely and businesses have multiple SaaS applications in their business environment. For example, a customer may register for a free service and when that product expires they will get charged. 

Under a controlled SaaSops platform, a business would have more insight and management of processes like this. SaaSops specialists include businesses such as BetterCloud and Zylo, offering added services than traditional management platforms. 

Cloud M, migration-focus section of Cloud Technology Solutions has a SaaSops section and has experienced a 50% increase in business since 2018. The business recognised a regular problem for businesses migrating to the cloud and so delivered a product to help the transition. Cloud M can automate the on and off boarding of customers by applying a set of rules criteria to match users and place them in the right categories.

Financial services have large volumes of important business-focused data. While larger providers such as Microsoft can provide cheap services to support data retention in a convenient manner, it’s still an added cost for a business. Cloud vendors have additional data and when users leave your organisation, the business can be left paying for licences in order to maintain access to this pool of data. Businesses like Cloud M can move this data, reducing costs for a business and making the data storage process more streamline.

SaaSops can support the management of all of these varied applications for hundreds and thousands of customers. This can generate significant returns in the short term if implemented and managed properly.

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Preparing for a post pandemic finance market

June 16, 2020

With COVID-19 as a driving force, financial leaders and their associated teams are making plans for a new post-pandemic stage of financial transformation. For many businesses, a post-pandemic finance market means shifting beyond automating processes like financial consolidation, reporting and planning.

A post-pandemic financial transition will require teams and businesses to transform relatively quickly. This will particularly be the case for FP&A businesses shifting from standard monthly cycles to weekly or even daily processes to measure revenue, costs and cash flows.

Popular corporate performance management tools like Hyperion and SAP ERM have enabled financial professionals to automate a number of vital office processes but they may not necessarily be the most effective solutions for a post pandemic industry. Analysts have suggested that the fragmented structures, expensive upgrades and maintenance create additional management requirements rather than allowing financial leaders to really focus on analytics and decision making.

Preparing for a post-pandemic finance industry

Finance teams need to consider whether their traditional tools like Hyperion Planning or Oracle HFM are reaching their end of life. Finance leaders should have a good understanding of whether their services are capable of meeting new requirements and the costs that may be incurred in the future. Right now is a good time to evaluate your legacy tools and consider what option will suit your business now and in the future. Oracle and SAP have made plans to push customers to migrate on to their cloud applications. IT industry analysts are encouraging financial professionals to consider all other alternatives before making the transition to their legacy vendor cloud applications. There are a number of effective alternatives available on the market with more up to date architecture, new productions and support for on-premise and cloud deployment.
One particular alternative which has risen in popularity is OneStream Software. OneStream provides an innovative CPM solution, unifying and simplifying financial consolidation, planning, reporting and analytics. The platform is the first solution to provide corporate standards with the option for businesses to report and plan at various levels without affecting corporate standards. A vital asset of SmartCPM solutions is having the potential of using multiple solutions for budgeting, forecasting and planning, all within one single application. The OneStream XF service reduces the risks associated with integrations and reconciliation between various other products and applications.

Many businesses have used legacy tools to manage their planning, analysis and forecasting but as businesses grow it can become problematic in measuring and integrating data from various channels. Many organisations are looking for a unified approach, to reduce the efforts of managing multiple applications but also to enable clear visibility of all data processes.

Creating an agile, adaptive and visible platform is exactly what businesses need to progress and prepare for a post pandemic future.

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The role of big data and the rise of data responsibility

June 10, 2020

Big data provides huge opportunities for business and marketing professionals to unlock vital confirmation on what drives their customers and prospects. Customers are well aware of the value of their personal information and do understand how this information can be utilised in a manner to improve the overall customer experience. Some customers even believe that analytics and other insights can reveal unknown motivations and interests that an individual may not have considered. For these types of people, the benefits of data analytics when used in the correct manner is capable of generating new opportunities that may not have been previously realised.

People understand that a business needs to generate a profit, something which only happens through engagement with the public. Most individuals also have a preferred business that they intend to support and see it continue operating for the future. If customers believe a business is working ethically and honestly then loyalty will strengthen and business is likely to improve.

Implementing a transparent and ethical approach to data is vital in building loyalty. A business should continue to inform and communicate with clients whenever data is being collected. Instead of just informing someone that their data is being used, a business should explain why it is being used and how it will positively improve the customer experience.
Safety and security is a top priority

Businesses need to ensure that customer data and information remains private and secure from any unexpected data breaches. The potential impact of cyberattacks can reduce trust in business competence. If in the unfortunate scenario that a business does experience a security issue then the business should actively engage with all members affected. This should include details on the protective measures in place to eliminate the chances of this happening again.

Providing transparency on business processes will strengthen your credibility. Displaying how data is used to improve customer expectations provides clarity to the consumer.

Businesses need to consider all of the regulations and applicable laws that apply to each region where they have customers or prospects. With rising pressure to manage data privacy, many businesses are implementing a ‘privacy by design’ framework and integrating additional ethical values into any process involving data. This pre-planned approach towards data ethics is far more effective than trying to integrate or update plans at a later stage.

One of the most important factors to consider in terms of data ethics is ensuring the subject is clearly in the minds of business leaders and executives. Once a business leader understands the principles and benefits of implementing these techniques with big data, then rolling out the processes across the wider business will become more effective.

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Managing the rise of SaaS technology in business

June 10, 2020

The transformation experienced in the business world has resulted in an unprecedented rise in SaaS requirements, leading to increased concerns with decision makers in the IT industry.

Not so long ago, remote and flexible working options were perceived as an added bonus, rather than mandatory for business development. Today, as a consequence of the ‘new normal’, business leaders have increased their reliance on SaaS technology to support and maintain workforce productivity. The transition was so unexpected and rapid that IT teams have had very little time to assess and consider what resources to be investing in. 

Businesses are responding in various ways to the recent implications of the crisis. Some organisations have previously promoted flexible working options and were already in a relatively mobile position prior to the pandemic. Other businesses have had to completely transform their working processes, making significant changes to cope with the restricted measures. Whichever stage a business was at, there has been a significant rise in SaaS usage which has caused some concerns within the IT industry.

IT teams are responsible to manage the technology systems and to ensure your business has the correct resources to support their workforce. During these current challenges, businesses are focused on working in the most effective manner, whether the right tools are available or not. This could result in a number of challenging scenarios:

Individual teams are purchasing SaaS tools and expecting IT teams to cover the expenses. Business leaders are under added pressure to ensure their teams are equipped with the resources they need.

More employees are signing up and subscribing to new SaaS services which in some cases, is leading to uncontrolled purchasing and potential security concerns relating to sharing data. Furthermore, many employees are registering for free trials without considering the security implications or how they intend to extract the data from the product when the trial is complete.

In order to sustain this surge of SaaS usage, IT teams need to be capable of identifying exactly what services have been purchased by their employees to enable continued working from home. Businesses should implement due diligence in regards to cost and security with SaaS resources, with a target of creating an approved list of preferred tools and applications. Once this has been established, IT teams should delve deeper into each SaaS application and ensure they understand the benefits and potential risks associated with each service. This includes exploring who owns the data in the application, how the data is protected, who has access to the data sources and what happens to this information when the contract is terminated.

SaaS services are simple and very user-friendly but it can be challenging to terminate contracts. Once a business has understood what services it intends to use, they should assess and manage any potential challenges. For example, Zoom has quickly established itself as a vital tool for remote working. The free service enables conference calls for up to 40 minutes. However, if Zoom becomes an essential part of a business, there is a good chance that the business will consider upgrading to a paid service. Despite its rising popularity, even services like zoom have had recent challenges in regards to security and privacy. Other popular services can be complicated when looking to terminate a contract and extracting data out of these platforms. This is something that needs to be considered prior to proceed with your selected SaaS service.

All businesses are facing up to similar issues, but whatever industry you may be in, business leaders are predominantly focused on their performance and ensuring their functions continue to the best level. SaaS tools have proven to be very effective, particularly during the pandemic but IT teams need to ensure they monitor what products are being used and the implications of signing up for new services.

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The benefit of financial reporting in the cloud during a crisis

June 2, 2020

Businesses worldwide are bracing themselves for the economic implications of the pandemic. Many have already felt the impacts throughout their business structure and have been forced to make a number of changes in order to continue.

In these difficult times, technological advancements have become essential to enable businesses to continue functioning and to progress. Organisations are quickly adapting to operating remotely and applying online systems to continue performing as many of their usual business activities.

Data and new technologies are continuing to evolve and are proving vital in this transitional period, but it is critical that reliable and efficient systems are applied. Using new technology for financial processes can be very beneficial in delivering key insights and information. As more businesses turn towards online systems, the value of these services is becoming more clear.

In a period when time and efficiency is so important, finding financial solutions and support through manual financial reporting services can delay progress. Manual reporting is generally quite time-consuming and can quite often result in a number of errors. Financial managers have quickly realised that online solutions available for financial reporting provide a more reliable and streamlined service. Manual reporting systems are often perceived as being antiquated, prone to errors and duplication.

Financial reporting in the cloud has generated a number of advantages for businesses. Cloud based services enable organisations to manage and consolidate their information. With data collected in a more efficient manner, reports and other information can be generated and compiled efficiently. This information is very useful in delivering strategic decisions for a business.

During these unstable times, reports like this offer clear and concise information that directly influence a business. Combining these services with advanced analytics means businesses can create a clear roadmap for efficient business performance. 

In our existing financial climate, it is vital that financial managers can clearly display the efficiency and sustainability of corporate performance. Placing financial reporting in the cloud helps support this, ensuring businesses meet all regulation requirements and remaining ahead during these uncertain times.

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