It’s been almost a decade since the cloud started becoming something people refer to in everyday conversation, but for a lot of people, it’s still this hazy, vague concept that’s just… there.
Most people know what it can do (it lets us listen to almost the entirety of modern pop music anytime, anywhere, for one), but a large number would be hard-pressed if they were asked to explain exactly what it is.
Does knowing what it is when we already know what it can do for us and our work really matter, though? A quick look at cloud market forecasts for the coming years seems to suggest, “No.”
SaaS is Eating the World
Within the United States alone, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS, or just simply “cloud apps”) penetration has gone from 27% in 2011 to 58% in 2014. Last year it reached 73%. Analysts expect it to reach 94% by the end of 2017.
Now, there are almost 30 million small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the US—28.8 million in 2013, in fact, according to the latest figures from the Small Business Administration.
If the penetration numbers we quoted above are on the up and up, that would mean over 21 million SMEs are using at least one cloud app right now.
And it’s usually not just one app, either. According to QuickBooks maker Intuit, 68% of SMBs that are on the cloud are using an average of four different apps.
Okta places that number even higher in their latest Business @ Work report, claiming that the median number of apps used by SMEs has grown from nine in 2012 to a whopping 16 apps by the start of 2016.
The Pains of Data Fragmentation
SaaS is a still-growing industry, and it’s growing fast. By 2020, the global SaaS revenue is estimated to reach $132B due to demand from small businesses.
Still, every industry has its growing pains, and SaaS is no different. One is what ITProPortal calls the SaaS data dilemma: with so many SaaS apps in use, company data is becoming more and more fragmented. It becomes harder and harder to track down useful, trusted, and actionable data.
Imagine this: you’re the boss at a digital marketing agency and you want to see how your projects did in 2016. You want to know how long it took to turn a sales lead into a paying client, how long it took to complete projects, whether or not those projects were profitable, and what issues your client are usually complaining about.
In a typical small business, especially one that fits squarely into that 16 apps median statistic from Okta, you’d have to wade through several separate apps just to get that clear picture that you want.
You get data from your CRM and sales app, then switch to your project management app.
Once you get what you need from that app, you switch again to your invoicing and billing app.
And then you do the same thing all over again on your help desk app.
You have to use four separate apps just to get the data you need. And that’s not even including the actual number crunching,
Fortunately, there is a way to consolidate the work you do on multiple apps into one.
Keep Your Data in One Place
As an integrated business management app that combines everything from CRM and sales to projects, help desk, and billing, WORKetc lets you keep all your critical business data in one central place.
So in the scenario above, you’d use only one app to get the data you need from your sales, projects, finance, and support teams.
You can create a smartlist that includes lead creation and close dates; a report that lists allocated and remaining budgets, expenses, and fees for your projects as well as start and end dates; and a list of all support cases in a specific custom category such as “graphics issues”.
All of these business critical numbers are in one system. There’s no need to hunt them all down in separate apps—or asking four separate team leaders for separate reports. It makes the issue of data fragmentation moot.
Even if you use two or three devices to do your work, WORKetc native mobile apps let you access all the data you need, whether you have an Android or an iOS device. Plus, being a cloud app, you can access the WORKetc web app from anywhere with an internet connection.
Data fragmentation is just one of the many pain points that WORKetc addresses in today’s SaaS-crazy small business landscape. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking at more bottlenecks and how WORKetc can help your small business get through them.