Where did all this SaaS come from anyway? Except in very new (or very innovative) companies there is always a blend of legacy systems and new technology. The FOMO that drives consumer adoption tends to move a little slower in the business sphere - needs have to be defined, risks and budgets have to be assessed, businesses cases have to be established - and usually individual innovations get tied in with wider initiatives or projects.
And that totally make sense - if you’re bringing on a new CRM, the time is right to seriously consider your marketing automation, or with that new ERP you might want the new, more compatible HR or ecommerce solution.
New enterprise level projects make the new systems adoptions pretty obvious because of the level of executive ego involved - there are going to be lots of questions and requests for information. But even smaller innovations usually happen in conjunction with some sort of business goal “we need better communication around new product functionality” “ok here’s a trello board with a gant chart - it’ll be easier to refer to than github - and we can hop on a slack video call for 15 minutes for weekly updates!”
Even IT-driven upgrades to security, say, or the network are often bundled in with some other strategy.
What Drives App Usage and Adoption?
There are a lot of drivers in your business, and a lot of advantages to SaaS and the cloud, but most everything boil down to these:
- Agility - With modern APIs, better and more useful documentation, and even more standardization of specialized data, bringing a new system online is a comparative breeze. What can we learn from this? If a service isn’t keeping up to your needs, you can probably find one that will and move onto the new app pretty easily.
- Scalability - Concerns about when to bring new hardware and other resources online are largely mediated by the cloud. This means that not every new initiative brings new costs to bear, and makes experimentation and innovation a lot more worthwhile (if you know when to cut projects loose).
- Cost - In general, by letting go of in-house IT requirements and taking advantage of multitenant environments and lowered maintenance attention, your costs should be quite a bit lower. That doesn’t mean that you’re entirely shielded from waste, but still will probably have an ongoing impact in the amount of cash available. And every time you switch to a new system, it’s likely to save you even more.
Coming at app usage and adoption from another direction - according to Gartner, 75% of all ERP projects fail. Obviously, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is among the most complex endeavors you can take on, and these projects mostly will be focused on established companies with a lot of entrenched legacy systems, so the high number is not that surprising. Nevertheless, we can learn a few things from these complex undertakings no matter what business you are in.
- Communication - “A lack of transparency appears to be at the heart of things.” Be clear with your goals, and drive for clarity on the part of the vendor.
- Simplification - Elsa said it best - “let it go.” If you are adding a lot of amended functionality into your project, perhaps it is unnecessary - a holdover from a forgotten way of doing things.
- Drama - You’ve done this before, and seen it all many times. You know it’s going to cost more, take longer or possibly skip important details. Be ready, be flexible, and be pleasant.
We can learn a lot from looking at app usage and adoption from both the vendor and client perspectives. The agility, scalability and cost advantages of cloud-based services also give the users an added advantage of flexibility. Remember to communicate internally and externally as much as is possible, and always be on the lookout for ways to simplify the project.