Essential SaaS Applications for a Post-COVID-19 World

by Jul 22, 2020Cloud & Hosting

It’s no secret that SaaS adoption rates had already been exploding in the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic. But COVID-19 has forced many businesses to make that transition even faster.

A 2017 report found that 38% of companies were already running almost entirely on SaaS applications. That number was projected to jump to 73% in the years ahead.

As businesses shifted to a decentralized workforce in response to the pandemic, they had to find new ways to collaborate remotely. For many, SaaS was not just the obvious solution, but also the key to surviving this new normal.

 

Why SaaS matters more than ever

SaaS is short for software-as-a-service. It’s a software model in which applications and data are hosted in the cloud and accessible via an Internet connection, rather than installed on a user’s device.

Cloud-based applications have several benefits:

  • Ability to use the application from anywhere
  • Real-time data syncing for all users
  • No need to install or manage software downloads
  • Automatic updates
  • Apps are powered largely by the SaaS provider’s data centers, not local servers

SaaS can help streamline operations and save businesses money at the same time. But in the wake of COVID-19, the most important advantage is enabling workers to use critical applications from their homes and elsewhere.

Whereas locally hosted software tethers employees to their office desks, SaaS apps give users the flexibility of working from anywhere.

 

Slow to adopt

Well-known SaaS apps like Salesforce and Gmail have been around for nearly two decades. But in some industries, businesses have been slow to transition to a cloud-based environment.

The reasons for this can be complicated.

For some businesses, it’s simply a matter of “doing what we always did” or because of fears and uncertainty in transitioning to something new. Additionally, smaller companies that made large investments in custom software deployments only a few years ago may be more reluctant to dump those tools, even if SaaS makes smarter financial sense in the long run.

 

Time to move forward

After COVID-19, this transition has become a requirement, not a choice. The pandemic has forced companies to allow their workforces to work remotely—and that trend will likely continue long after the virus diminishes.

Additionally, the rise of SaaS has already made traditional on-premise software obsolete. Software vendors are increasingly discontinuing their traditional application packages in favor of a SaaS model.

Going forward, maintaining productivity, efficiency and competitiveness in a post-COVID-19 world will be nearly impossible without relying on SaaS and the cloud.

 

A wide range of cloud services

If you’re new to SaaS (it’s okay, no judgment – you have to start somewhere, right?), you’ll be glad to know that there are cloud services for just about every operational need imaginable.

As of 2019, in the marketing industry alone, there were more than 7,000 SaaS companies. That’s just one sector. While not all SaaS platforms are made equal, there are solutions to help businesses power nearly every aspect of their operations in the cloud.

Let’s look at some of the most common examples of cloud services that companies are using to maintain continuity through the pandemic and beyond.

 

File-sync and share

Cloud-based file-sharing apps are a vital tool for remote teams. While they are not meant to replace the advantages of using secure, networked storage, they can absolutely supplement it.

File-sync and share (FFS) allows you to store files in the cloud, where they can be readily accessed by others. Files stored in select local folders on a user’s device can be automatically uploaded and synced across other users’ devices.

This is a win for remote teams, because it ensures that everybody has the latest file versions, and there’s no need to tediously email files to everyone every time there’s an update. Files can be shared by simply sharing access to the file location. Additionally, files can be accessed from anywhere, and on any device, with an Internet connection – great for users who are on the go or who may not always have network access.

We often point to the simplicity and security of Datto Workplace for file-sync and share, but there are numerous others as well, such as Google Drive and OneDrive from Microsoft.

 

Collaboration & productivity

Beyond file sharing, there are a number of robust SaaS platforms that can replace nearly all of your on-premise productivity applications.

Two big ones that come to mind are G Suite from Google and Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365 or O365 for short). These suites include the file-sync and share apps mentioned above, but also a range of other applications for communication and collaboration.

For example, Microsoft 365 includes cloud versions of its Office apps, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, email, calendar, chat, video conferencing and more.

Cloud-based productivity services are a boon for remote workers. New employees can get right to work, from anywhere, in minutes. No need to download a bunch of software packages and run lengthy updates. As soon as the subscription/user license is active, they’re ready to go.

  • Tip: Be sure to back up your SaaS data as you would any other data. Third-party cloud backup tools like Backupify perform automatic backups of G Suite and Microsoft 365 data up to three times a day.

 

Accounting

For businesses using on-premise accounting software, the pandemic presented a major roadblock. Accounting staff who could not return to the office had no access to their books. That quickly resulted in a backlog of unprocessed billables, payables and other bookkeeping tasks. For some, this meant bills were going unpaid, and companies were left without visibility into their financials.

Nearly every major accounting software vendor now offers a SaaS version of its products. So there is little reason for businesses to be using on-premise applications these days, unless for compliance reasons or because a business requires a custom application that must be hosted locally.

Cloud-based accounting suites from providers like Sage, Xero and Intuit allow businesses to maintain all their financials from anywhere in the world.

 

Human resources

The same goes for HR.

SaaS-based human resource management tools have completely changed the efficiency of HR over the past decade. A wide variety of robust cloud services can streamline nearly all HR responsibilities, including hiring, talent acquisition, time-keeping, salary & benefits management, employee evaluations, productivity, organizational structure and more.

And unlike the bulky on-premise software of the past, cloud-based HR software can be accessed remotely from any connected desktop or mobile device. The data is synced and up to date, so large HR departments always have real-time access, even if users are on opposite sides of the globe.

Workday, SAP, Oracle and ADP are just a few examples of industry leaders that now offer SaaS versions of their HR software.

 

IT infrastructure as a service

Even your IT infrastructure can be moved to the cloud, and that doesn’t merely mean having off-site data storage.

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) allows you to quickly deploy and manage computing resources over the Internet. Rather than deploying your own physical servers, you rely on off-site data centers for compute, storage, network security and other resources, paying only for what you need. This allows businesses to quickly scale up or down without the traditional cost or complexity of managing their own on-site infrastructure.

IaaS can help you shift faster to changing business conditions, which is critical for businesses trying to adapt to the pandemic.

Nearly every tech giant offers some version of IaaS, including Microsoft (Azure), Amazon (EC2/AWS), IBM, Cisco, Citrix and Google, just to name a few.

 

Disaster recovery as a service

Data backup and business continuity no longer have to be limited to on-premise infrastructure – and they shouldn’t be. Relying strictly on on-site backups can leave businesses vulnerable to a number of disaster scenarios resulting in total data loss.

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) leverages the cloud for a more agile BC/DR strategy. The entire backup, testing and recovery process can be automated and streamlined for multi-layered data protection.

BC/DR solutions like the Datto SIRIS provide protection for local, virtual and cloud environments, while enabling instant backup virtualization (onsite and off-site), automated backup verification and recovery in as little as 6 seconds.

At a time when downtime costs businesses between $8,000 to $700,000 per hour, DRaaS has become essential.

 

Customer relationship management

A good CRM system is critical for businesses in numerous industries, and SaaS makes it even easier to manage.

Salesforce is the most recognized name in SaaS, but there are many others out there. A cloud-based CRM system allows you to manage customer records, leads, sales, marketing and support from a web-based dashboard.

Again, users are no longer tethered to an office computer. So, whether there’s a pandemic, or your company allows remote work all the time, sales teams can manage customer relationships from virtually anywhere.

 

Tasks & project management

So, with workers spread out all over the world, how is anyone supposed to stay on task?

Simple … with cloud-based project management tools. SaaS platforms like Asana, Basecamp and Airtable help to streamline tasks across projects and teams, and simplify communication. Most platforms feature automatic email reminders and comment systems, making it easy to keep teams in the loop about updates, deadlines and new projects.

The cloud has removed the necessity for time-consuming (and costly) project management meetings. Team members can stay on deadline and cross off their to-dos, regardless of whether they’re at the office or thousands of miles away.

 

Adapting to the new normal? Need Essential SaaS Applications? We can help.

Get guidance for transitioning to dependable BC/DR, file sharing and other IT solutions for a post-COVID-19 world. Call Invenio IT at (646) 395-1170, email success@invenioIT.com or request a free demo.

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Dale Shulmistra is a Business Continuity Specialist at Invenio IT, responsible for shaping the company’s technology initiatives -- selecting, designing, implementing & supporting business continuity solutions to bolster client operational efficiencies and eliminate downtime.