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Getting SaaS-y

Posted by Meg Bear on January 5, 2008


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I know what you are thinking, but I’m not planning to talk about this, well covered thread.  Nor, even this, catchy-titled observation.  I’m going to go back to basics a bit and talk about my thoughts about Software as a service (SaaS) and Human Capital management (HCM)/Talent Management.

Smart people, who I admire, have talked for quite some time on how Saas is important and how HCM has been playing in this space for quite some time.  Jason, Jason, Jim, Christa, to name a few, have been keen to point out some of the thinking and momentum for SaaS in our market.  I just thought it would be useful to take this dialogue a bit further, or maybe I was bored, you decide.

What is great about SaaS

The real advantage is that SaaS has provided a solution that customers can take advantage of easily.  There is limited commitment, adoption is quick and innovation can happen rapidly.  It lends itself nicely to the Talent marketplace where there is fragmentation, both in the vendor landscape, and within HR itself. 

What’s not great about SaaS

It seems (to me) that many are confusing a means of delivery and a sales revenue model with a solution to a business problem.  This is especially true in the Talent space where vendors, who are looking for a viable business model in a time of rapid consolidation, are all moving to SaaS as their only delivery vehicle. 

We all know that some of the larger benefits of a talent strategy cannot be realized with the level of integration that is possible with the current vendors in the market today, at least not without significant effort on the part of the customer.   Today most SaaS vendors take a necessarily simple approach to integration doing the minimal data integration necessary to make the process work.  This ignores the harder problems like when a business process spans multiple functional and technical disciplines and applications.   Of course, we often talk of OnBoarding and Off Boarding as examples where it quickly gets complicated.  There are even processes within the HR function like calibration, promotions and compensation where tasks require a holistic picture of not just the current data but the historical data as well.

What does it really mean? 

The current push of the market to SaaS will ultimately help all vendors as it will help draw attention to the need for a real focus on web services, service oriented architecture (SOA), ease of implementation and ability to realize the benefits we’ve been talking about for years for things like zero down time and selective upgrades. 

Companies need to be careful that they are leveraging what is good about SaaS, vs. getting themselves in deeper with a tangled IT landscape that has plagued the LMS implementations since the introduction of eLearning.  As Oracle uses the SaaS momentum as the competitive motivator it is, our customers need to make sure that they consider SaaS as a means to an end and not the strategy itself.

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