Public Sector CRM Technology
Software as a Service CRM
The newest public sector CRM disruptive technology is clearly the on-demand or hosted model, most notably referred to as software as a service (SaaS). Interestingly enough, this much hyped technology innovation has very little to do with technology and much more to do with procurement, delivery and support.
SaaS CRM applications are purchased on a subscription or rental basis. The subscription is almost always based on the named user count and billed on a monthly or yearly basis. The subscription model is viewed favorably for software which is a highly depreciable item with a real world value that is generally less than the balance sheet value. As the life cycle for CRM systems continues to decline, software ownership only takes on a reduced value.
SaaS applications are remotely delivered from central data centers. The more credible SaaS providers operate very impressive tier 4 data centers which normally exceed the type and amount of investment most organizations could afford. Since SaaS companies are in the hosting business, their staff and processes related to system uptime, equipment redundancy, system fault tolerance, information security, disaster recovery and business continuity are again far more capable than organizations not in the full time hosting business. While SaaS was immediately met with reliability and security concerns at the turn of the century, those concerns (while still valid) have been remedied by each of the market leading SaaS companies.
Outside of cost, support is often the most cited benefit of SaaS applications. Relieving over-worked and under-resourced government IT (Information Technology) professionals from the never ending maintenance, upgrades, patches and management headaches permits IT staff to focus on core competencies and projects closer in alignment to the agency's mission and strategy.
Not to discount the technology advancement entirely, SaaS has forced CRM software manufacturers to retire the old and bloated fat client programs in favor of thin-client applications. As SaaS is a browser-based delivery, the software applications must operate entirely within a browser and preferably without client-side downloads (particularly ActiveX and DLL controls). Surprisingly, or perhaps not, several of the most popular and largest software manufacturers have chosen to fight this new value proposition and unstoppable industry trend. With the not-so-hidden objectives of protecting their cash cow business and revenue streams, these manufacturers chastized the SaaS movement until the evolution moved on without them. While they are now coming around with SaaS CRM software solutions, their delay gave instant rise and market share to credible SaaS CRM products from Salesforce.com, NetSuite, Aplicor and Entellium. It remains very questionnable with the industry giants such as SAP and Oracle will deliver SaaS solutions that can compete with the smaller start-ups or even whether their solutions are genuine or little more than a defensive tactic designed to slow the erosion of the on-premise customer systems.