Bridging the data fragmentation gap left by SaaS and the cloud

Software as a service (SaaS) undoubtedly holds major benefits, but unfortunately they continue to be accompanied by major data headaches.

SaaS first really started taking hold in 2007 and most organisations have never looked back since – after all, it offered the promise of significant savings, total cost ownership, and a simplified IT environment. The delivery model is now considered utterly vital to the running of those organisations, thanks in part to the disruptive assets that have only become clearer with time - agility, responsiveness, and a hands-off approach to IT. In fact, on average, enterprises now have hundreds of SaaS applications in use.

However, there has been a significant legacy – the challenge of integration with both enterprise applications and data sources which SaaS and the cloud have failed to resolve. Instead, they have produced a complex network of disparate applications and hybrid environments where data is constantly produced but not meaningfully managed, and in some cases duplicated, leading to further problems. Challenges have also been experienced by many in keeping business processes flowing smoothly.

Fragmentation has thus resulted, particularly from applications not performing well enough when exchanging data during real-time transactions. Furthermore, staff have been able to too easily adopt and then abandon applications, meaning that key data is also discarded on SaaS servers in untracked data centres. Fundamentally, data has been difficult to move, but then too easy to lose as well.

SaaS may be effective in its purest form, but when it comes to the tracking of trusted, actionable data, it’s quite simply failing, even exacerbating data fragmentation through its ‘access anywhere’ ethos.

In such a scenario, the effective leveraging of data insights for future projects is hugely compromised and may be setting you up for failure when you do embark on that new programme.

Moreover – and this is vital – data may be incompatible across the various SaaS and cloud apps in use at any one time, and thus the situation will require prompt intervention if that’s important to your business, as it almost certainly will be.

The adoption of SaaS irrevocably means that effective data aggregation and subsequent insights can only be achieved by combining information from a variety of disparate systems, which is a major challenge by anyone’s yardstick. Complex coding has been required to connect business apps in many cases, with the resultant time wastage and unnecessary cost which that has entailed.

Ultimately, this complexity continues to stand in the way of those looking to make big gains from the cloud.

Nevertheless, clearly this disconnect also represents an opportunity for those who can satisfactorily meet the challenge. A marked evolution is therefore required and automation of manual data entry in many SaaS products and integrated offerings should therefore be a priority, along with the separation of data from application.

Bridges can undoubtedly be built in the fragmented SaaS space, and the right solution may well be closer than we think.  

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