3 Offerings That Will Rise Up in the As-a-Service Era

Business.com / Technology Solutions / Last Modified: September 13, 2017
Photo credit: Panchenko Vladimir/Shutterstock

As the market for outsourced services continues to grow, the variety of available services is growing along with it. Here are three as-a-service offerings that small businesses can take advantage of to save money and streamline operations.

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) market has evolved from very specific tech offerings to now include food delivery, pet sitting, storage space and much more. Its evolution is so far-reaching that it is often referred to broadly as the as-a-service model, or XaaS. This trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon, with experts predicting the market will reach a compound growth rate close to 40 percent between 2016 and 2020.

The rise of XaaS is a supply and demand story: Companies began searching for new consumption models capable of lowering costs and simplifying management challenges. At the same time, the number and variety of available services began to skyrocket. Expect this market to continue to evolve and expand in the coming years.

The case for XaaS at all levels

Businesses of all sizes and across all industries have embraced the model. The SaaS market for small businesses, for example, is about to exceed the market for enterprise SaaS.

This trend shouldn't come as a surprise: SaaS is relatively easy and cheap to deploy and scale across an organization. The subscription model also provides small and midsize businesses with far greater flexibility and empowers them to try before they buy. IT managers and purchasing pros increasingly see outsourced services as the only viable option.

The need for data security is also accelerating adoption. Small businesses must guard against security breaches and contend with an increasingly complicated regulatory environment. As crucial as these concerns are, they fall outside the core competencies of most small and midsize businesses. Outsourcing these critical workloads to various service providers has become the best way to manage them and the clearest path to gaining confidence and staying competitive.

Under-the-radar services becoming the norm

As the market for outsourced services continues to grow, the variety of available services is growing along with it. Here are a few under-the-radar offerings that are gaining traction, as well as tips on how you can integrate them into your organization to streamline operations and manage costs.

Print management

Office printing costs can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked. Large enterprises routinely spend millions each year on print. The print-as-a-service model gives business managers a top-down perspective on printing costs and provides IT leaders with comprehensive insights into the use and performance of their printing device fleets.

Integrating this model into your enterprise is easier than you might think. A simple installation and deployment process can begin to provide key insights into your organization's print environment in about an hour, with user-friendly dashboards and segmented data views for various departments and lines of business.

You can track printing activity and related costs down to the individual employee to help you set benchmarks and performance targets and to discover opportunities to reduce unnecessary volume and costs.

You can also secure your network printers and protect the confidentiality of printed materials by deploying secure pull-printing technology via the cloud. In a secure print environment, employees use their proximity card or login credentials to access your network printers and release their documents.

This workflow significantly reduces risk, unnecessary printing, abandoned prints, paper and toner waste, and costs – as much as 50 percent off the original baseline. Plus, it helps companies demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and a smart office environment. Establishing a mission of ecological stewardship can also improve recruitment and branding efforts.

Energy management

Energy bills represent a significant ongoing cost for most companies, and remembering to turn all the lights off at night will not move the needle. Incorporate services such as EnerNOC's energy intelligence software platform to track your energy usage in real time. The system streamlines your data collection process, resulting in a comprehensive and accurate overview of your emissions and consumption trends.

Armed with this information, you can quickly identify and prioritize strategies for improved energy efficiency. This method of managing an organization's energy output and costs will eventually be commonplace, especially among small and midsize businesses with brand values that include sustainability and environmental conservation.

Energy management as a service helps business leaders discover where, when and how they use energy, and use those insights to reduce consumption. Data tracking alone results in cost savings of 6 to 10 percent, and upgrades to fixtures and facilities double those savings. Due to the accessibility of such cost savings and the ancillary benefits of a sustainability initiative, the energy management market is projected to grow to $44.4 billion by 2020.

Collaboration management 

Phones and emails are giving way to more effective communication and collaboration tools. Tools like Slack and Asana, for example, provide robust instant messaging capabilities and collaborative project management systems.

You can use these services to bridge the divide between employees and groups while making information transfer quicker and more flexible. One case study of a company using Slack found that its email usage declined by 50 percent once the tool was introduced. As the workforce trends younger, these new ways of connecting and communicating will come to dominate. You can save substantially on both time and operational costs by integrating these communication tools into your organization.

If you use the browser-based options that these tools offer, it's a snap to get started. Their intuitive user interfaces don't require much time to get used to, and because these collaboration tools are simple to deploy and there's nothing to maintain, you'll do your IT staff a big favor.

Any business not exploring its options in the XaaS space is missing out on a major opportunity. The most efficient and successful companies of tomorrow will be laser-focused on their primary missions and core skill sets. Everything else will be outsourced to a provider that can do it better, faster and cheaper as XaaS liberates businesses to concentrate on what they do best.

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