Being ‘agile-enabled’ is a badge of honour that CSPs are wearing with pride, but many are still struggling to join the dots when it comes to weighing up the benefits of buying on-premises software or subscribing to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Initially positioned as an ideal solution for SMEs, larger organizations are increasingly discovering that SaaS is a viable solution that enables agility and drives digital transformation. In fact, a pandemic-riddled 2020 only served to highlight that it’s become all about speed, flexibility and most importantly, agility, a perception backed up by Gartner predicting that SaaS revenue will reach $122.6 billion this year and $141 billion in 2022. 

A study by Deloitte found that 93% of CIOs had adopted or planned to adopt cloud-based SaaS applications in 2020. This demand for a migration to a subscription-based delivery model means it’s now time to stop talking and start acting to meet demand. CSPs need to deviate from just selling standard telecom services such as connectivity and look to deliver outcome-based end-to-end solutions. They cannot afford to waste time on lengthy and costly IT projects but rather need to start leveraging ready-to-use solutions from the public cloud in an “as a service” delivery model.

The complexities you face if SaaS is not on your radar

No CTO wants to waste valuable resources on operating complex software dealing with things like capacity management, performance tuning, constantly patching and upgrading software. You rather want your people to focus on market differentiation and customer experience.

Existing IT systems and traditional delivery processes struggle to provide the required level of flexibility, especially when it comes to expanding into new markets and rapidly launching new solutions. By not investing in a SaaS-based delivery model, operational complexity becomes an increasing burden on your already stretched IT team. This slows down innovation and therefore increases the time from idea to the launch of new services.

Why you should consider the value that SaaS will bring to your business 

As we know, agility and scalability rank as the top drivers of SaaS adoption. Giving CSPs that all important ability to experiment, innovate and test new technologies, business models and services will lead to improving agility and efficiency, automating processes and integrating ecosystem partners.

Co-creating new B2B solutions (IoT, 5G) with an ecosystem of partners should now be at the top of every CSP’s priority list, especially when our research revealed that 97% of enterprises believe that key players need to collaborate to provide them with better services. CSPs understand the benefits of ecosystems and believe they will play an influential role. But they are not building them fast enough, with enough of the right partners. CSPs must roll out ecosystems now, partnering with the types of company enterprises want to work with, and CSPs must think bigger.

Technology is the major barrier to CSPs realizing the benefits of ecosystems. Specifically, they’re missing flexible, dynamic platforms that help manage, orchestrate and monetize the complexity of innovating and launching joint offerings. These marketplaces must be SaaS-based and connect telco assets – such as 5G, AI, edge, cloud, IoT, network slicing etc., with customer needs and partner capabilities.

Digital business platforms like Infonova enable this at scale via a SaaS delivery model built with open APIs and microservices tested in TM Forum environments. It gives CSPs the ability to take advantage of, and easily bundle, sell, order, fulfil and settle its own services and third-party solutions with AWS services (cloud, IoT, analytics, security etc). 

What are you famous for?

Ultimately you need to ask yourself the question, “what am I famous for?”. If running and operating complex software is not on your top five list of business priorities, you should concede to those that do perceive it as a top priority.

In the same way that you typically wouldn’t consider building up your own data center but rather consume Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) from the hyperscalers, you should consider consuming software solutions in a “as a service” model rather than installing and operating them yourself. It is very unlikely that your operational efficiency will be superior to the software vendor when it comes to running its solution. And more importantly, scaling up resources and getting the software up and running will lose you precious time for your business.

Migrate to SaaS and upgrade the customer experience 

A SaaS environment offers numerous benefits such as the delivery of continuous upgrades and feature enhancements. But it also enhances speed and reduces risk at the start of a project due to it being immediately available, allowing you to start focusing on delivering business outcomes right from day one. However, it’s not all about the technology; you first need to take the time to listen to your customers, understand their needs and work together to find the right solutions. 

This requires short iterations for quickly validating the strategy and the product-market fit. By quickly deploying an MVP and measuring the outcomes, you will reach your goal faster than designing solutions in PowerPoint in your office. The solutions will then need to be scaled by continuously improving the customer experience and level automation. And the hard work isn’t over when the solution is launched in the market. In fact, the most important phase is just about to start as you receive feedback and need to use that to quickly adapt and improve your offering. 

Gone are the days of lengthy procurement processes. SaaS truly thrives in an environment where the business and IT teams share a common goal and focus on the same outcome and incrementally delivering them in short iterations. Break down those silos between different departments inside and outside the organization and you will soon see the benefits. 

In summary, the secret formula for achieving business agility is to combine the right technology with the right delivery model. The use of a SaaS model greatly reduces the operational complexity and allows you to focus on market differentiation and customer experience. Less manpower is required which means reduced overheads and higher speed. An agile and iterative delivery model allows you to quickly launch and validate new ideas with your customers and constantly improve them in short iterations. Taking the plunge and migrating to SaaS, working together to achieve a common set of goals, and delivering results in short iterations will enable you to get there faster. 

  • Andreas Gabriel
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