Software-as-a-Service can no longer be ignored in the business community. The expansion of global operations means corporations must do international procurement, meaning digital payments, communications, data analysis and other management tools have to technologically adapt to facilitate this evolution.
B2B SaaS has secured a healthy position in the market today, and many experts only expect that to strengthen. But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has bigger plans for the SaaS industry.
According to reports, the executive predicts that every software maker in the market will need to become a SaaS provider to businesses in order to remain competitive. And not only that: Every business on the planet that builds intelligence systems will become a SaaS business.
At the Convergence 2015 conference held in Atlanta this week, Nadella spoke early on Monday (March 16) on the exponentially increasing intelligence of computers.
“I think we are at the dawn of a new generation of business systems,” he declared. “With the ability to reason over data, we can now build these systems of intelligence. This is going from having systems that are very useful onto themselves but are somewhat static and converting them to learning systems … where everything that you have becomes intelligent.”
Software For Every Business, Every Industry
This explosion of SaaS operations will hit every single industry, Nadella predicted. Any corporation that facilitates the digitization of services will mean that they will need to develop technology to streamline those offerings. “Every one of these businesses now is going to become a software business,” he said. “You’re going to reason over that data, you’re going to build applications, you’re going to do analytics and predictions. You’re going to provide SaaS services that go along with your products.”
Data, Nadella reiterated, will play a significant role in the demand for SaaS.
The digitization of business operations can offer insight for businesses into what their procurement needs are, what their customers want, and where their finances should be. But the rise of Big Data can often overwhelm even the largest corporations that do not have the right resources – often in the form of software – to analyze that data.
In a few years, Big Data could qualify as “Massive” Data. The information businesses will have access to will be monumental, and software will be imperative to sorting, analyzing and making use of this information wave.
Microsoft’s Role in SaaS Growth
As the everyday consumer fuels the rise of Apple and the popularity of the iPhone and iMac, Microsoft has buzzed under the radar as the leading B2B technology and services provider. PCs, for example, remain the most common computer for businesses, and have propelled B2B sales to new heights.
Nadella took the opportunity of a keynote speech on the rise of SaaS to introduce Microsoft’s future solutions to support this future. Many of these new products, reports said, were developed with the Internet of Things in mind, another direct response to the rise in Big Data.
These new tools include the Azure IoT Suite, a service that helps businesses connect and pay each other, as well as analyze all of their “things.” The suite, Microsoft said, will be released later this year and offer businesses IoT-focused services including asset management, predictive analytics and remote monitoring as corporations look to scale their services to the influx of “things.”
In another Internet of Things development, Microsoft also revealed the launch of Windows 10 for Internet of Things, a set of devices all running on the Windows platform. All applications can be integrated on all devices, Microsoft said, to similarly support multiple “things” of which corporations need to keep track. These applications can support a range of devices including ATM machines, industrial robotics and IoT gateways.
These IoT services, Microsoft said, will also focus on the security of data flowing through these technologies via the cloud.
On a smaller scale, Microsoft simultaneously released information about its new Power BI data analytics solution for businesses that will include updated dashboards and report offerings. The product, the company said, allows corporations to analyze and access visual reports of their data connected to business and customer relationships.
Lastly, Microsoft revealed the anticipated release of the Microsoft Dynamics Customer Relationship Management tool for later this spring, an upgrade to Microsoft’s existing CRM solution for businesses.
“Businesses are hungry to seize new opportunities using technology like machine learning and predictive analytics,” Nadella said in a press release announcing these new products.
The Reality of SaaS’s Future
Nadella may have an extreme view of the rise of Software-as-a-Service. Of course, it remains to be seen whether every industry and every business will, in fact, become a SaaS provider.
But the Microsoft CEO is certainly correct about the trends that move businesses toward this future. With a smartphone in nearly every pocket, and PCs on nearly every desktop, employees naturally turn to their technology to communicate, research, pay, procure and complete their tasks every day.
It’s a reality that places today’s businesses in the midst of the Internet of Things, and in the midst of potentially overwhelming data. For businesses to survive, they will need to take the reins on analyzing that information, and software has so far emerged as a way for corporations to do so.
The emergence of every business becoming a SaaS provider is a bold prediction. But Nadella’s declaration of where businesses need to be to remain successful should not come as a surprise. “Make sure everyone inside your organization has the power to access these insights [obtained through technology] and then have the power to act on those insights,” the executive said at his keynote. “Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive action will they be positioned to truly transform.”