The last in our series of articles
on how tech impacts the
The last in our series of articles on how tech impacts the housing sector
Part Four: Software as a Service (SaaS)
Across all sectors, organisations are being called on to re-imagine their businesses to remain competitive in a digitised world. SaaS or ‘Software-as-a-Service’ are the prime tools being adopted – but what exactly are they?
Tech-heavy acronyms such as SaaS can confuse when buying new software. SaaS, sometimes referred to as ‘on-demand software’, are key products for businesses to keep pace with their digital transformation. Many of us are already using SaaS services day-to-day in our private lives without realising it on platforms such as Netflix or the Google Maps mobile app. What these services provide is timesaving and user-friendly software. In business this means linking up data, processes and people to get the best out of employees and create value for customers.
So what is it?
SaaS are cloud-based solutions where a third-party provider, such as Housing Partners builds and hosts applications. Find out more in our article here. Previously, businesses were sold software that would need to be configured as local hardware on a perpetual license model. Customers may then have had an option to pay support fees on top. Instead, SaaS solutions are generally priced on a monthly or annual subscription fee and the software grows iteratively with the provider and the customer, meaning a more affordable way to have the most up-to-date software.
These applications are generally used on multiple machines, by many users and with one single configuration. This single configuration means that providers do not have to maintain backdated versions of their software or build updates for each previous offering – a time-consuming process! This was the case with traditional software models where many physical copies meant different configurations could be running and customised at different sites, all of which would need to be manually updated and as a result, may not have been compatible.
The two main types of SaaS are Horizontal and Vertical.
Horizontal SaaS focus on particular industry categories such as HR, sales or marketing and deliver software solutions that can be deployed across sectors. An example of these would be the accounting application, Quickbooks.
Vertical SaaS builds software solutions that answer the needs of a specific industry e.g. healthcare, education or housing, such as us here at Housing Partners.
Vertical SaaS is still a relatively new phenomenon. It is not uncommon for traditional sectors to feel comfortable with the old style of working despite its drawbacks and it can take time to become more comfortable with the idea of changing to a different way of working.
Speaking about Housing Partners’ choice to develop SaaS solutions, CEO David Grint explains: “SaaS is the next logical development in software. Just as mobile is replacing desktop, which replaced the mainframe computer, so SaaS is growing rapidly as a result of its inherent benefits over stand-alone systems and software.
“SaaS is an inclusive service – continually being updated and improved to meet customer needs, with no upgrade costs and no time-based obsolescence. SaaS does not require companies to employ ongoing internal IT maintenance or manage compliance or technological developments. SaaS does this for you. The future of software provision is SaaS – its faster, cheaper and future-proofed,” concluded Grint, by adding “What more is there to say?!”
The Cloud Market
In 2017, global research firm Gartner predicted that the cloud services market would grow £2bn (18%). SaaS businesses are set to disrupt the financial, retail and housing industries in the same way they have done in healthcare. This trend will only increase in the future with the advancement of AI, robotics and visualisation. SaaS businesses will be able to offer more services at more affordable prices as they gain further automation capabilities.
Within the housing sector SaaS solutions offer standardised, streamlined working procedures that ensure professionals can give more time to what truly matters; the tenants. Data can be a hugely powerful tool to save money, identify pitfalls and opportunities and deliver service, but only when it is harnessed correctly. Although they may seem daunting, SaaS offerings have provably overturned the healthcare and education sectors and housing is embarking on this journey now. We at Housing Partners have been building software solutions since 2001 and we work to guide housing providers to simpler, more effective processes that stay within budget. The aim with such adoption, beyond the bottom line is to optimise digital and human resources to focus fully on business achievements.