There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to setting business goals. It means different things to different companies. But growth is, undeniably, the desired outcome – independent of the industry you serve or the bedrock technology of your systems and applications. It’s essential that enterprises manage business application updates and upgrades to align with current growth plans or future goals. Of course, that’s just one side. On the other, they may lead to workforce productivity dips, budget overspends, and even growth inhibition!
Before we dig deep into how this is a realistic scenario, let’s look at a few factors that help enterprises decide when and how they should upgrade/update their latest business applications.
- Strengthening business processes with new features or other updates
- Solving performance issues that minimize application usage
- Getting more application ROI by optimizing spend on maintenance and support
- Heightening security and compliance to mitigate data leaks, system threats, and regulatory indiscipline
- Increasing application compatibility across operating systems, browsers, and devices.
On-premises and SaaS: Understanding application ownership
Traditionally, OEMs like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft offer on-premises application upgrades every year. Their clients – both small and large enterprises decide the upgrade cycle to get the most out of their investments. They also get the liberty to customize to avoid being riddled with unwanted features while staying in the lane of continuous application improvement. Another advantage is they can build features on top of OEM applications to meet unique business requirements that no standard product in the market can, this will automatically increase their application maintenance or support cost.
SaaS vendors generally don’t leave any room for choice regarding when and how upgrades and updates happen. These features although picked up via customer surveys may or may not be applicable to your business but still you need to go through the upgrade grind. Furthermore, customization is restricted, making it difficult to finetune to fulfil unique use case requirements. But that doesn’t mean they’re more of a bane than a boon. You first need a broader perspective on how application updates and upgrades work in both these worlds.
Who bears the cost?
|Enterprises take cost ownership (if any)
|Borne by the third-party provider|
Who decides when?
|Enterprises get to decide – based on business need
|Decided by the third-party provider|
Who manages it?
|Enterprises require in-house resources or vendors to manage updates
|Fully managed by the third-party provider|
So, is it a boon or a bane?
There may be bugs: Don’t be surprised if new updates and upgrades lead to minor bugs that affect application performance. It’s a possible scenario – especially with SaaS software deployed in third-party servers – unaffected by other upgrades in your technology ecosystem. You may need to contact the vendor to fix these bugs.
Do you really need it: When was the last time you used Internet Explorer? Before you delve into the past, think about this – it took Microsoft half a decade to announce that they plan to end support for Internet Explorer 11 after launching Microsoft Edge in 2015. Sometimes, newer versions or patches could even cause user frustration. With on-premises systems, enterprises can gain better control over when and how they manage a business application’s journey.
If it raises the bar: Meaningful updates and upgrades to an application make it more efficient, and future-ready, or secure. If your current application is exposed to security vulnerabilities due to delayed version control, it becomes vital to update patches to overcome clear and present dangers. Many SaaS vendors leave enterprises with no choice because of the potential security disasters.
Similarly, ignoring improved functionalities may negatively impact user productivity or hinder application performance.
The market for managing on-premises applications is getting bigger, with more independent support service providers. They help enterprises streamline their updates to achieve maximum application efficiency, extract superior licensing ROI, and create competitive differentiation. But it’s the enterprise’s responsibility to control application performance in alignment with changing business goals. It’s akin to sales and marketing teams updating their customer outreach strategies on the fly based on market trends or campaign metrics.
However, it isn’t just your IT teams who feel the pressure of effectively managing application updates. It’s a boardroom challenge – with digital transformation driving the day-to-day functioning of SaaS players and helping legacy enterprises improve the way they do business.
By Chenthil Eswaran, Practice Head of Enterprise Business Applications, Aspire Systems.