For just about every business sector in the United States and around the globe, 2020 has presented unforeseen and profound challenges. COVID-19 changed nearly everything we once took for granted — like going to the office, sending our kids off to school, and the 9-5 workday.
It’s been a challenging year, to say the least, but for many companies, technology is stepping up, stepping in, and saving the day.
We’ve already covered the importance of security in a work from home world, so in this post, we’re going to take a look at how tackling a couple of strategic technology projects — like SaaS and data governance — can support digital transformation and help companies build for a stronger tomorrow.
SaaS & IaaS: the benefits of a cloud-based workplace
Companies are rethinking how and where they conduct business. Along the way, they’ve also been pushed to reconsider how they use technology and their technology processes.
“Some shops are still remote and will be for three, six, nine months, or longer. Others have pivoted to staying remote because their employees are as productive — or more — than they were in the office,” said Vaco managing director and technology practice leader Alex Naddell.
As companies continue to adapt to our new work reality, software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are paving the way for a smoother transition.
“There are companies that leverage commercial off-the-shelf systems and plug them in. And that’s because there are a lot more scalable, fully built-out solutions for companies that don’t want to reinvent the wheel themselves,” said Naddell.
We’re living in an age where robust out-of-the package technologies certainly exist, but it’s also increasingly common for companies to adopt the pieces of a program that work for them and then customize others. SaaS isn’t one-size-fits-all, like many legacy systems. Instead, it’s fundamentally flexible and modular.
Investing in SaaS, IaaS, and cloud-based software and technologies in support of your company’s digital transformation delivers exceptional value … especially during disruptive periods such as our current moment in history.
Cloud-based subscription services make it possible for businesses of all sizes to maintain operational continuity, improve security, become more flexible and adaptable, and efficiently scale operations as necessary.
“We often find that there are a lot of manual or Excel-based processes or inefficiencies with integrations between systems that can be addressed with a SaaS solution,” said Matt Taylor, managing director of IM&T at Morgan Franklin Consulting. “There’s also the ability to add additional software or capabilities in support of that ERP [enterprise resource planning] or accounting footprint. That might look like intelligent automation or a treasury management solution or an AP automation solution that’s interacting with and streamlining the business process or workflow within an organization.”
As the benefits of digital transformation and SaaS become clearer, many CTOs and technology leaders are side-lining investments in legacy systems and are fast-tracking their move to the cloud. Decisions that once would have been years in the making have happened — and continue to happen — overnight.
The prospect of making the shift from legacy systems to cloud-based software and infrastructure can seem like a formidable undertaking, though.
“If a company is moving from a legacy or hosted solution to a cloud-based solution, the biggest question is ‘how do we get there?’ It can seem daunting and overwhelming. One thing to consider is a phased or hybrid model. This allows companies to make the move in a controlled fashion, using a structured process. At a pace they’re comfortable with. In this case, SaaS and IaaS tend to be very intertwined,” said Taylor.
When your company is ready to move from crisis response to continuity management, SaaS and IaaS are smart investments that can pave the way for a smoother future.
Data Governance: for 2020 and beyond
Data governance consists of data policies, processes, rules, and regulations that guide organizations on how they should collect, store, and manage data. The consistency across data management makes it possible for organizations to act on the data.
“It’s a strategy put into place to identify who is the owner of a particular set of data and then how does that data move and interact across the rest of the ecosystem. Data governance provides the guardrails or the rules around how you want data to flow and interact across your infrastructure,” said Taylor.
The guiding principles of data governance are:
- Checks and balances
- Change management
For companies that had already adopted a distributed work model and have widely-adopted SaaS and IaaS systems in place, the shift to a virtual work environment may have been relatively seamless in terms of data governance and compliance.
However, for many businesses, the shift to remote work was too much, too soon. For these companies, the overnight transition uncovered serious threats and weaknesses, creating gaps in the guiding principles of data governance and leaving them open to data privacy breaches and wide-ranging security risks. Even companies that had already adopted SaaS and IaaS to support their operations may find that data redundancies across platforms weaken data integrity.
“When organizations have multiple systems — like Salesforce, an ERP, a warehouse management system, and a custom marketing system — all of these systems rely on similar information, but without proper data governance, what happens is that information is getting created in multiple places and there’s so much of it that it gets muddy really quickly and companies don’t know who is actually the owner of the information,” noted Tayor. “Data governance sets the stage for the strategy for the implementation of master data management and integration. Ultimately, it enables data analytics and business analytics reporting.”
“We have a project with a customer right now where we’re putting into place not only the guidelines around data governance but the master data management plan as well,” continued Taylor. “We leveraged AWS and cloud services to create a datahub and leveraged machine learning to help evaluate, clean, scrub, and manage the master customer set. Now the customer knows where the system of record is within the application. And when it’s time to use that information and evaluate it, we can bring all that information into an operational data hub. If any changes or updates or validation is needed, it occurs there. So in the future, if we need broader reporting or traceability or a place to get an organization-wide view of the customer, we know we can count on that data hub to be accurate.”
Not only does having a centralized point of data truth help business leaders develop KPIs based on accurate information, but it also strengthens data security. As customers continue to embrace hands-free transactions (and more and more businesses move online), SaaS, IaaS, data governance, privacy, and security are front of mind for consumers and corporations alike.
“Data is at risk and the compliance of that data is so important. I think companies are asking more and more cybersecurity and risk and compliance questions now than ever before. They’re protecting themselves and their customers,” said Taylor
Looking for ways to make sure your company is tech-forward and your customers’ data is safe and compliant? Is your business ready for whatever tomorrow has in store? Contact the technology solutions experts at Vaco to come up with a solution that’s right for your company or download our Ultimate Guide to Tech Industry Trends!