The debate continues about the relative values of on-demand versus on-premise CRM solutions. Concerns about hosted services hinge on security and, most importantly, integration.
At the beginning of this year we studied the Software-as-a-Service situation in general and especially as it relates to Amdocs Clarify owners, and the value of Dovetail CRM as replacements for the Amdocs applications. We suggested that the Clarify owner didn’t need to abandon the investment in Clarify from a desire for greater agility and extensibility.
”...bring in thin clients, deploy them through the Web for your outstations and field agents as well as through the enterprise network, integrate them using the vast legion of Dovetail APIs with third party systems in-house, use them to unlock the meaning in your Clarify data, and run it all on the robust and extensible .NET platform. And start to have a development path again.” – On-Demand CRM and On-Premise CRM
We should have included Dovetail WebServices in that list of components, rapidly surpassing APIs as the preferred approach to integrating with other systems.
In general, on-premise, perpetual solutions provide stronger tool sets for customization than hosted services.
“Ease of integration, stronger tool sets for customization, a greater range of applications and tailored configuration capacity were listed by application software decision makers as reasons organizations prefer to rely on the on-premise and in-house development and deployment option, according to Forrester Research. They also cited loss of control and limited verticalization as reasons for shying away from SaaS.” – Good Reasons for Sticking With In-House, Part 2
The business users in the enterprise are sometimes tempted to go around IT, and hosted solutions provide a means to do this when turf battles get heated.
“On-demand became popular from a simple sales-enablement perspective. For a VP of sales, on-demand is a perfect solution to bypass IT and get an easy-to-use SFA (sales force automation) tool up and running quickly.
“But pure on-demand solutions are limited in scope and hit a ceiling in delivering value. There’s definitely a tipping point for customers where on-demand doesn’t make sense and they need an on-premise solution.” – CRM Execs: Where Is the Industry Headed?
But none of this squabbling is really good for the enterprise. A healthy organization requires consensus between stakeholders, and this requires IT growing into a more business-oriented view, as we have illustrated – and advocated – countless times.
Beyond this, the scope of challenge in customer relations today is literally life-threatening to the enterprise. Technology has to be the handmaiden of the critical business needs for completely integrated data cross-enterprise, and genuinely useful business intelligence in real time. Only IT can deliver these ends.
The great risk with on-demand proliferation is a “calving” of the enterprise – like an iceberg – into smaller ice-floes, subdivisions of function that have given up the freedom of the perpetually licensed, on-premise system, and choose vendor lock-in for short-term gains. Over the long term, IT is largely helpless to customize a hosted service. And there are other ways to cut the cloth.
“Moreover, the ongoing development of Web services standards and SOA (service-oriented architecture) is enabling in-house application developers and systems engineers to use the same application and systems development tools, methods and standards being used by SaaS developers and vendors to develop and deploy their own rich, native Web application services.” – Good Reasons for Sticking With In-House, Part 2
This is a very strong point, and somewhat close to where we came in, alluding to the open design philosophy of Dovetail Software, and the ways in which the current trends in Web 2.0, SaaS, and standards-compliant (and standards-enabled) development, all reflect the core values built into Dovetail from the beginning.
This debate over the ease of “on-demand throwaway” versus “futurist on-premise” perpetual licensing will continue, and it’s an important one, especially in our world, with Clarify owners locked into Clarify proprietary code, and seeking the way out. We’ll talk more about this.