Solutions: Businesses have potential for growth by embracing software-as-a-service

This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on January 23, 2023 - January 29, 2023.
Solutions: Businesses have potential for growth by embracing software-as-a-service
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Since the acceleration of digital connectivity, the internet and cloud computing industry has made software-as-a-service (SaaS) widely available and a fundamental part of the day-to-day operations of many businesses today.

Skyquest Technology forecasts that the global SaaS market will reach US$720.44 billion by 2028, and that is because organisations are accelerating their digital business activities and rapidly shifting to the cloud to deal with other new realities brought on by the pandemic. Furthermore, SaaS is becoming more popular as many major companies examine the extraction capabilities to gain important market insights from big data, which bodes well for the development of the global SaaS market.

Closer to home, the SaaS market in Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 38% from 2021 to 2027. This growth is primarily driven by end-user industries such as retail, distribution, manufacturing, healthcare, life sciences, financial services and telecommunications. It is also because its cost-effectiveness, scalability and flexibility have made the adoption of enterprise cloud computing solutions accessible in the Asia-Pacific SaaS market. Beyond that, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) today are looking at various ways to reduce IT spending while improving efficiency at a lower cost per employee, which translates to an increasing demand for SaaS solutions.

Echoing the shift towards SaaS, Fujitsu says that by 2025, 44% of business leaders currently leading offline organisations expect more than half of their workflow processes to be automated. Similarly, 78% of these business leaders believe the use of SaaS platforms will result in seamless offline and online customer experiences.

The maturity of the SaaS market and its offerings imply that whether you seek a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to boost sales efficiencies or a customer support and ticketing platform to improve customer service, there is a plethora of SaaS applications available to improve business processes while reducing IT responsibilities and costs.

However, are businesses in Malaysia or Asia-Pacific capable and prepared to leverage the available SaaS solutions to improve the customer experience and capitalise on potential revenue growth?

SaaS — a game changer for businesses to compete in the digital era

SaaS has been instrumental in driving enterprises forward in this digitally driven period, helping brands remain operationally efficient yet scalable. Here are some competitive advantages that businesses can leverage by adopting SaaS in their operations:

1. Scalability

SaaS enables businesses to scale up or down with complete flexibility, so they can manage volatile conditions when there is a need to adapt, scale and react quickly. An example is how e-commerce businesses needed to rapidly scale processing and distribution functions to support a sudden increase in users and online orders during the lockdown period. SaaS products also offer the option to scale up and down the types and numbers of users with ease.

2. Efficient IT cost management

SaaS platforms help businesses significantly reduce IT responsibilities and costs. Compared to on-premises solutions with remote workers, cloud-based SaaS applications do not require network connectivity and hardware scaling issues management. This removes costs in the infrastructure itself as well as the resources required for implementation, ongoing maintenance and support.

3. Easy upgrades

There is no need to worry about software being outdated because it will be automatically upgraded by the vendor.

4. Tailored features for every need

A variety of features are available for different industries and sectors, making it easy to find the right SaaS solution for a business need. Businesses can explore solutions for data analytics, accounting management and CRM tools, among others.

5. Flexible development

Businesses also have the option to develop their own SaaS platforms, providing web and mobile access to existing legacy software platforms without the need to replace or overhaul existing systems. This enables businesses to move towards a SaaS licensing model by providing customer access to internal systems.

Enabling businesses to grow through CRM SaaS tools

Apart from delivering greater operational benefits, enterprises have also adopted SaaS for its capabilities to provide a greater customer experience to end users through various CRM tools. Businesses today recognise that CRM SaaS tools can extend the following benefits:

1. Improved customer service

SaaS platforms have technologies that can deliver an improved customer experience. Businesses also benefit from cloud-based analytics to improve their decision-making abilities. Chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions have changed the chatting experience for customers, and businesses that have adapted to this change have seen a clear difference in their lead generation process and an improvement in business operations.

2. Proactively manage customer relationships

Some 83% of sales professionals reported that the pandemic increased the importance of building trust before a sale. A CRM SaaS system enables businesses to quickly learn what matters to customers and automatically tailor recommendations sent to them.

3. Reduce cost of sales

Through SaaS, businesses gain greater visibility into upselling, cross-selling and renewal opportunities in customer portfolios to drive an increase in repeatable sales. The system also enables businesses to identify the right time to engage customers for optimal response, thereby making their operations more cost-efficient.

4. Improve customer retention

Complete visibility through SaaS tools across all customer relationships enables the team to address at-risk accounts or present satisfied customers with new opportunities at just the right moment.

5. Deliver better customer service

Seventy-six per cent of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. This means businesses’ cross-functional departments must have immediate access to a customer’s complete history to quickly provide personalised messages and solutions, which can be done seamlessly through CRM SaaS tools.

Proven solution delivering track record of tangible returns

These are some case studies showcasing how companies both locally and abroad have experienced tangible returns by deploying SaaS and real-time omnichannel customer support solutions.

1. Gibraltar BSN

Deployed WhatsApp to reduce costs associated with delivering policy contracts by 40% while making the entire process faster and more secure.

2. Unicef

Adopted a digital-first omnichannel approach to streamline donor communications to reduce churn, resulting in a 7.8% increase in donor retention rate, a 33.3% decrease in churn rate and a 4% conversion rate on cart abandonment flow.

The way forward for businesses through SaaS

According to global professional services firm EY, Malaysian businesses are prepared to live with Covid-19 and are prioritising technology adoption in the short term, but they need additional assistance in upgrading digital technology. This suggests that SaaS and other digital-first solutions will become fundamental for businesses aspiring to grow and differentiate themselves in a saturated digital space.

It is important for businesses unsure of how to deploy an omnichannel solution through a SaaS platform to seek out a reputable partner in their digitalisation journey to lay a solid foundation for providing excellent customer service.

Velid Begovic is vice president of revenue at Infobip in Asia-Pacific. Infobip is a global cloud communications platform that enables businesses to build connected experiences across all stages of the customer journey