A Stroll Down Memory Lane for Software-as-a-Service

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Software-as-a-service (SaaS) demand continues to rise thanks to the pairing of great technology providers and decision makers trusting in the SaaS model to help solve their business challenges.  We speak with prospective customers every minute of the day and the shift in demand over the last 3 years has been enlightening.  Isolating the request for proposals (RFP) alone can give you insight into how buyers have changed.

Three years ago we had RFP’s for digital asset management (DAM) because the organizations had challenges managing their collections of digital media (and still do today, just an exponentially greater volume of digital media).  But only a fraction of these DAM RFP’s (appropriate use of acronyms but the irony of the DAM RFP is oh so great)  were requesting how they could better manage their images, audio, and video files because the rest of it was specifying hardware and other I.T. requirements.  As a SaaS provider, it was a simple copy and paste of the words, “Not Applicable, Software-as-a-Service Provider.”

So the SaaS providers would rarely get invited any further in the process, but on occasion would be taken to the final decision to stand against the installed software provider just so the organization could compare apples and oranges.  If you could hear what was being said in the decision room, it might have sounded something like this (with heavy sarcasm for fun):

“We have entertained two different methods of deploying our digital asset management technology.  One method is purchasing software from a digital asset management provider and then using all our available I.T. resources to acquire the necessary hardware that we will never upgrade. 

A few other highlights if we go with the installed DAM software option:

  • We then deploy the $200,000 software on these devices so that we can determine what customizations we would need to accommodate the original specifications in our RFP. 
  • Then we could customize it for 5x the cost we paid for the setup solidifying our legacy application status which makes future upgrades from this DAM software provider more difficult (but I am leaving the organization in 12-months for a better job so what do I care). 
  • Then we get to roll it out to the user base after partnering with one of the integrators that the DAM provider recommends. 
  • This also gives I.T. the opportunity to purchase more bandwidth because we are going to be transferring massive sized files and with the upcoming demands of marketing including lots of video, we can plan on about 50% of our total bandwidth being consumed by feeding video to our web and channel partners. 
  • This should all take anywhere between 3 and 36 months.

The other option is DAM SaaS which is having someone else manage the technology and we manage our digital media, which was kinda the original purpose of the RFP process but we’re not sure anymore.

Our recommendation is to purchase the software because we get to own it…not really though because we don’t own the source code… Well, I guess we don’t own it… we just license it… But, we have the perceived sense of owning it so we’ll call it that because it sounds better. 

We recommend the installed option for the following reasons as well: 

  • We also get total control over the deployment and our I.T. team will work closely with marketing and creative to meet their schedules and requirements.  I know they haven’t gotten along in the past because their projects keep getting pushed for other I.T. priorities but this time is different. 
  • I.T. says they should deploy everything anyway because they want to continually purchase new hardware because it is fun looking at new stuff and the hardware suppliers give me tickets to cool events and other gadgets to play with for personal use. 
  • More importantly, when the DAM provider releases new software they get a chance to debug it on the fly which is a great high pressure situation to help advance their skill set; almost like defusing a bomb. 
  • That is only after we determine if we can take the upgrade because we might have done so much customization that is will cause too much disruption which means we just won’t upgrade, ever.  But I.T. also thinks that is ok because they would increase their networking opportunities because they could work more closely with the integrators and third party providers that would write the customizations to the original DAM software.

It is obvious that the installed software choice for this digital asset management system is more exciting which is why I am asking for an open purchase order because I am not clear with the total cost related to owning this thing.  Someone asked about scalability earlier as well, but we have opted not to address that because I am leaving the company before that becomes an issue anyway.”

Fond memories... 

Thank goodness nearly every RFP for managing digital media now requires that the service be managed by a software-as-a-service organization so the focus can be on managing and distributing digital media.

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