Marketing in a recession is hard enough to do if demand for your products is on a decline. But when your budget gets the squeeze, it’s time to start doing some things differently if you’re to survive.
How about some pennies from heaven from cloud computing?
Some marketers are choosing to optimize their operations through marketing automation using cloud computing or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to reduce marketing operation expense while securing productivity gains fast. According to Knowledge-At-Wharton:
These days, no computer user is an island. A recent study determined that 80 per cent of the data used by business comes from outside the company. Cloud computing ‘is the technical response to this reality’, said Anthony Arott of anti-virus software company Trend Micro, based in California.
A somewhat broader definition of cloud computing comes from Barry X. Lynn, CEO of ‘cloud platform’ provider 3tera of Aliso Viejo, California. ‘A lot of people define the cloud as having the computers be someplace else. And that’s not true,’ he said. ‘People have run IT in data centres they didn’t own for years. In the 1970s, we called that ‘remote job entry’. In the 1990s, it was ‘outsourced data centres’. It’s not a new concept.’
Mr. Lynn is correct. Today the new names may be SaaS and cloud computing, and though they may sound new, functionally these services have been with us for a long time in various forms. More importantly, the key value of SaaS and computers in the cloud today lies in their enabling you to optimize your operation fast and cheaply — without you having to build the core infrastructure from scratch. This way you can exploit the (little) market opportunity that there is in the economy at this time, particularly if you’re a small business.
What this means is that SaaS offerings have better take less than 3 months to implement so that by month 6 from project initiation you’re able to benefit from efficiencies and greater productivity from an optimized operation. How do you make sure to accomplish this?
You begin by thinking about your SaaS provider from the back-end perspective first and not from the colorful screen shots and pretty looking demos that sales reps present to you.
- Start by considering a SaaS of choice as having to transact with other technology platforms in your operations environment, whether they sit on or off premises, because no SaaS operation is an island. To carry out these transactions, one system must build a bridge to another. These bridges that your SaaS provider must build to another SaaS or internal system have better be straight-forward to set up and test, while remaining flexible enough to grow with both your operation and the infrastructure that they’re connecting to.
- Your SaaS should also be able to convert its system’s data into whatever format may be necessary to enable other applications that will dependent on it to operate, including keeping its own data clean or cleaning it on its way to another system.
- Your SaaS should have sufficient flexibility to modify its operation model enough to let you become competitive through some process adjustments were your own competitors using the same SaaS solution themselves.
- Your SaaS should be able to depend upon a top team of consultants with expert knowledge about their technology service and a tried methodology to get you up and running on it in no time. Don’t rely on the SaaS Tech Support team alone. They log your trouble tickets. But it’s the engineer in the back who comes up with a fix to your problem. Get to the engineers first hand and work out all the kinks in your operations process upfront or you will find yourself sharing a sob story with tech support only too soon afterwards.
You’re taking all kinds of risk if you don’t work out your SaaS arrangement this way. And with all that cloud computing risk unmitigated, chances are you might not secure economic value quickly from your SaaS investment. Fire and brimstone will rain upon you then! So follow the 4 steps above to mitigate the less obvious risk.