The financial benefits of cloud computing solutions, such as SaaS, have been widely praised.
According to one expert, however, reduction of expenses is not the biggest advantage of SaaS. Rather, the technology benefits companies by enabling them to access sophisticated tools and services that were previously only available to large enterprises.
In a recent interview with InformationWeek, Kerry Battles, chief financial officer at Host Analytics, described the process through which her company resolved a number of issues, including inefficient procedures, disconnected office branches and lack of appropriate tools.
Upon her arrival at the company, Battles said, "teams were spread out, had multiple versions of the truth, lots of spreadsheets – spreadsheets everywhere – and very manual processes that were, even though we're smaller, costly, painful, and slow."
This led to a situation in which the financial team was devoting a significant portion of its time to mundane fundamentals, rather than working to build business.
Battles told InformationWeek that deployment of SaaS solutions played a significant role in streamlining company IT and making the organization more efficient.
According to Battles, "most SMBs with revenue recognition issues are on spreadsheets." Such a system, she added, is "rife with errors – it takes a lot more time, and it's very cumbersome."
By implementing SaaS solutions, Battles was able to reduce IT expenses, while also increasing productivity and gaining access to new technologies. The company has 150 employees across four offices, so increased collaboration has been an important improvement.
"Really, we had no infrastructure or IT support in doing these implementations," Battles said. "The way SaaS is architected, it's configuration – not customization. We are renting software from other companies."
Like Battles' company, many other organizations are now recognizing the benefits of the cloud. According to a recent Network World report, 80 percent of new enterprise applications will be developed for the cloud in 2011.