At Fieldman, we believe that the software as a service (SaaS) model is the best choice (Fieldman uses SaaS applications), but our clients often wonder why we are so sure? Isn't it easier to stick with software pioneered 20 years ago and used for field project management by 60 % of utility vendors?
No, it is definitely not.
IBM experts created a great visual that illustrates the customer's and cloud provider's management responsibilities for traditional IT and cloud platform services. The gap between traditional IT and cloud services like Fieldman and legacy software providers is so big that the chosen path can shape and affect operations for a client for years to come.
In traditional IT, a utility vendor consumes IT assets, such as system software, development tools, hardware, applications, by purchasing, installing, managing, and maintaining them in-house in its own data center. In cloud computing, the cloud platform provider like Fieldman owns, manages, and maintains the assets; the utility vendor consumes them via an Internet connection and pays for them on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Cloud platform or 'as a service' refers to how IT assets are consumed in these offerings and essential difference between cloud computing and traditional IT. According to Gartner, public cloud services are forecast to grow 21.5% worldwide in 2022. "Organizations continue accelerating cloud adoption, which is driving a five-year compound annual growth rate of 21.7%", Gartner claims in a report.
You can learn more about cloud-based models (IaaS, PaaS, and Saas) at the IBM Cloud Education tutorial. In addition, Fieldman platform offers software as a service (SaaS), meaning on-demand access to ready-to-use, cloud-hosted application software.
A SaaS platform is the most advanced and ready-to-use IT invention. SaaS services are among the most popular IT services people use for their business or personal lives. For example, well-known Salesforce and HubSpot enterprises are SaaS applications. Dropbox and Google Apps, including email and maps, Netflix, Spotify, and Slack are SaaS configuration leaders.
There are a few reasons why many popular IT services became new leaders in their markets, leaving traditional IT software behind.
The core advantage of Fieldman or any 'as a service' solution is low cost: a client or user can access the IT futures it needs for a project at a predictable cost, without purchasing and maintaining everything in its own data center. Maintenance costs are also lowered since Fieldman, or other SaaS providers own the environment, split among all customers who use a platform.
Compared with traditional IT: to start a project, a company should spend on hardware and software licenses, invest in a data center, and have its own IT department. However, with 'software as a service,' a company doesn't need to hire a single IT specialist.
IT provider handles everything
The offloading of all infrastructure and application management to the IT platform provider is crucial SaaS benefit. The only thing the utility vendor has to do is to create an account, pay the fee and start using the application (exactly like Netflix!). Fieldman handles everything else, from maintaining the server hardware and software to managing user access and security, storing and managing data, implementing upgrades and patches, and more. Now, even small utility vendors, who used to work with Spreadsheets because of lack of resources, can operate efficiently using SaaS software.
Compared with traditional IT: a company has to spend resources on installation, maintaining, and upgrading software.
For many SaaS products is common to offer a free trial period or low monthly fees. Fieldman's business model charges per transaction or meter installation because we often upgrade our basic configuration based on each field project specification. Free trial or pay-as-you-go models let customers try the software to see if it will meet company needs, with little or no financial risk.
Compared with traditional IT: there are no free trials or cancel any time options. Traditional IT requires significant investments upfront, and it's challenging for any company to reverse the decision of using this software. Often companies keep using traditional IT not because it helps to run projects efficiently and smoothly but because they invested a lot of resources to install it a long time ago. Sounds familiar?
SaaS platforms can scale easily and quickly without impacting performance, one of the most valuable and principal features of cloud computing. Utility vendors can scale any projects up or down (vertically) and out or in (horizontally). For example, when there is a need to add more users to speed up a project's pace, it can be done in seconds without additional costs or time loss. It also works the other way: at a project’s final stages, fewer field workers are typically involved, and the company can quickly decrease the number of platform users.
Compared with traditional IT: adding a new user is expensive and challenging in most cases. The company has to buy additional licenses, which could cost hundreds of dollars for a single user, involve its own IT department to install software, and create a user profile. Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks.
"If an end user or organization can find a SaaS solution with the required functionality, in most cases it will provide a significantly simpler, more scalable and more cost-effective alternative to on-premises software", suggests IBM Cloud Education crew in their IT tutorial.
In the utility world, there is one SaaS platform for utility field projects. It's Fieldman, and it is designed to help vendors to replace eclectic, gas, and water meters efficiently and hassle-free.