This week Oracle confirmed the addition of five new countries to its Generation 2 cloud platform. This news will increase the number of Oracle cloud data centre regions to 21, with a planned total of 36 to be available by the end of 2020.
If this figure is reached, Oracle will have more global data centres than Amazon Web Services. The new regions will be located in Jeddah, Melbourne, Osaka, Montreal and Amsterdam. Each location is now available in the Oracle Cloud system.
Oracle has been focused on expanding its cloud infrastructure, an area where it has been viewed as lagging behind the three major cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. With the development of the second-generation cloud (often referred to as Oracle Cloud Infrastructure), Oracle is shifting from a predominant cloud-focused business competing directly with AWS, Azure and GCP. Rather than just focusing on conventional infrastructure, Oracle is focusing on providing ‘bare-metal machines’ which have received significant scepticism.
Oracle has also partnered with Azure to combine direct fiber connections between their data centres and Microsoft cloud platforms, allowing bare metal users to utilise the services provided by traditional clouds.
Expanding the Oracle Cloud – The expansions plans are a significant part of business development at Oracle. Beforehand, Oracle had been competing with a relatively small footprint compared to the big three cloud businesses, which may have made it less appealing to customers. Some customers have stated that to manage critical systems in the cloud, they need to be capable of operating workloads across independent cloud regions for disaster recovery purposes. Customers also require these multiple sites to be within the same country in order to meet data location requirements.
In order to meet these types of customer requirements, Oracle is put plans in place to provide a minimum of two areas in nearly every country where the Oracle cloud platform is operational. Three of the new locations listed, Osaka, Melbourne and Montreal now offer a second region within the same country, with Amsterdam also being linked to another EU region, Frankfurt. The UK, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India and Brazil will also have secondary regions active by the end of the year.
SaaS businesses are focused on customer success, offering the latest products and removing complexities and payment challenges. Since its inception over twenty years ago, the industry has experienced significant growth and innovation.
Recent studies show that the average employee uses over 30 cloud services at work. According to Synergy Research Group, global investment for cloud-based software is predicted to exceed $100 billion this year. Some businesses such as Netflix have gained a significant increase in their subscriber base and while all businesses would like a similar level of success, it is difficult to implement SaaS business models. There are several features of SaaS businesses that have supported the success of this industry:
Ensure Customer Success is a priority
Success for SaaS companies isn’t simply focused on sales. Subscriptions can be relatively easy to sign up customers but it’s equally easier to lose subscriptions. A lack of focus on addressing the churn rate can really damage a subscription business. SaaS businesses tend to invest heavily in customer success, marketing and consulting to measure client satisfaction and monitor any potential issues before they arise. Customer Success Managers should be focused on gaining a clear understanding of customer challenges. Ultimately, the most important part of the process is whether the customer has bought again and how much more they spent on the business. SaaS industry experts believe transparency is key, creating a clear dialogue with customers and asking direct questions such as why would you choose us again and why would you recommend us to others. This is vital information for a business to continue evolving and to maintain a happy customer.
Simplified access to new products For major businesses such as Microsoft, only a few years ago customers were required to renew products every time an updated version was released. Today, Microsoft enables individuals and businesses to use cloud-based applications on a monthly fee. A major factor of success with SaaS businesses is the delivery of cloud-based software, eliminating the need for high initial costs associated with acquiring products and to be left with a redundant product when a new version is introduced. In a SaaS environment, the customer is provided with real-time access to the most recent product versions. Compared to the conventional of ‘buy and own’ product models, the time taken to set up and deliver these services is greatly reduced and customers require minimal effort to access the product updates.
The core thing to consider here when offering products and services is flexibility. Businesses need to invest in the necessary resources to support customers to upgrade products simply and scale product deployment in a manner that suits customers.
Managing the burdens
Quite often, businesses will develop services within their focus area and use a SaaS business for other areas. The SaaS pricing model generally suits most businesses, enabling a company to cover all services without having to build its own in-house system. From a security and compliance perspective, its usually simpler and more efficient to utilise external providers. SaaS allows companies to incorporate the services they need and focus their attention on their core offering. A further benefit of SaaS is enabling smaller businesses to gain access to the latest infrastructure, security and compliance provided by SaaS businesses. The key lesson here is to really consider the potential challenges your clients may be facing and what actions can be taken to working towards solving them. The customer journey could be improved by reducing cost, regulation and compliance from customers, enabling them to focus on their core service.
Remove the payment complexities
Customers are looking for a simplistic payment service that requires minimal effort and doesn’t involve further payments. Creating a seamless, subscription payment process is essential for SaaS companies to improve the lifetime value of their customers. A prime example of efficient payment is DocuSign, providing a payment mechanism the eliminates as much friction as possible. In terms of payments, it is critical to understand how your customers wish to pay and then focus on ensuring the solution is seamless. Whichever payment plan a business decides to focus on, customer preference needs to be the focus and providing a payment system that doesn’t obstruct the sales process.
The demand for data segmentation and analytics is rapidly rising with modern technology creating a significant shift in data’s positions in a company. Nearly 70% of major businesses are utilising data to enhance specific business areas such as customer acquisition, internal processes, product road mapping or pricing strategies. It is clear that data management is critical for any business, but the sheer amount of data available means it can be challenging to define what to focus on.
Through possible mergers or acquisitions or the introduction of new systems/services, many organisations have complexities with varied systems, poor data quality and inefficient reporting platforms. The key solution for these areas is defining a singular network for all data and information.
Consolidating data from segmented systems and merging these sources into a singular source of truth can enable a business to address data quality issues. This type of process creates a one-stop-shop for collecting and managing data, enabling efficient reporting with fewer disparities within the reports. This creates several benefits, a qualitative benefit based on a reliable platform generating trust and quantitative benefits in the form of instant numerical data generated when required.
This allows business leaders to be presented with more clarity and to be capable of executing their strategy more effectively. Developing clear objectives is vital for any business, but measuring success is equally important and can be challenging due to the range of variables that require monitoring. As businesses start to gain more data, the management process naturally becomes more complicated, such as longer delivery times from internal technology teams. A consolidated system can empower employees to gain insights on their own, with the IT tech team being able to focus on improving their systems and data.
At present we are revealing data’s ability to fix existing issues within a business but as of yet have not really tapped into the range associated with data analytics. Modern analytical systems have the power to define new opportunities, make sense of trends and determine potential issues before they occur. Advanced analytics not only helps businesses remain relatively stable, but it also enables them to expand and process complex data sets and ultimately stay one step ahead of their competition. A combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics can transform how a business approaches new markets and targets development strategies.
Analysing data allows businesses to go further than just optimising, enabling the prediction of certain behaviours, sales demands, volume forecasting and even identifying potential systems failures.
Whether a business implementing predictive models or focusing on advanced analytics, the options available for businesses today are endless. Using your resources in the correct manner and selecting technology for your industry can accelerate business performance and create a competitive edge that every business is looking for.
The UK based SaaS FinTech business Rimilia has confirmed it has secured $15 million in funding from current investors including Silicon Valley Bank, Kennet Partners and Eight Roads Ventures. The latest funding round at Rimila has enhanced the total funding secured to $40 million. The business has stated that the new revenue will be used to improve product innovation and enable further acceleration in talent expansion.
Kevin Kimber, the CEO of Rimila explained how excited they were to secure additional investment which further strengthens their vision and technology, as well as providing further support with business growth. Kimber highlights that the additional capital will allow Rimila to advance its software capabilities, and at the same time generate further expertise and add specialist data scientists to expand automation and AI.
Rimilia is an automated platform powered by AI and developed to manage the process of order-to-cash in real-time. The business eliminates the manual processes associated with cash and credit management, reducing bad debt management and utilising AI to improve overall decisions. Rimilia recently introduced the Financial Relationship Management solution, providing finance teams with enhanced visibility into customer insights, integrating customer relationship management with ERP to combine pre and post-sale customer data.
A representative at Eight Roads Ventures recently told the media that Rimilia’s SaaS platform has quickly gained a reputation as an important resource for finance professionals, offering real efficiency and supporting businesses in increasing revenue. The business continues to show great growth potential and Eight Roads is excited to continue partnering with the business, offering its global network to support scaled development at Rimilia.
Rimilia recently opened up a series of offices across London, Denver and Toronto.
OneStream, the leading provider of financial performance management solutions has promoted Agium EPM to Diamond partner level. The news positions Agium EPM, a dutch-based business focused on EPM as one of the only two companies to have been awarded this level in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Founded over 20 years ago, Agium EPM has developed a strong record in Benelux and within Europe with services ranging from corporate consolidation, financial planning and reporting and business intelligence solutions. The business has provided a service to over 300 customers and generated in excess of 700 projects. When OneStream began business in the United States in 2010, Agium EPM took notice of its place in the EPM market. Pascal Walk, the managing partner at Agium believes that the award is big news for the business. Walk highlights that Agium EPM was one of the first consultancies in Europe to integrate the software, emphasising that its early adoption had enabled the business to stay ahead of other competitors.
Walk explains that only a few other European companies were using the platform when they started their partnership with OneStream. Today, they have become recognised as a next-gen EPM provider, being used by a number of large businesses in EMEA. Over the years, Agium has developed a strong knowledge and understanding to create targeted OneStream solutions that can benefit all users.
Martijn Van Bommel, Director of Sales and Business Development at Agium EPM explains that the upgraded partner status confirms their strong long term relationship with OneStream. Van Bommel highlights that they continue on their joint mission to provide a service to the modern finance world, delivering a 100% customer success rate.
Software-as-a-Service has created a number of opportunities, replacing conventional systems with cloud-based services, enhancing the overall user experience. Across an entire business spectrum, all departments are experiencing the benefits the technology can offer. Teams can work collaborate efficiently and finance teams are capable of utilising large data sets on the cloud and generate insightful information.
There has clearly been a number of benefits from a human perspective but progressions within the enterprise world have meant that IT teams need to capable of managing a different environment than before, a multi-cloud environment.
This new infrastructure is utilised to manage a range of workloads and has to be capable of managing with a rise of SaaS systems that support business functions that were previously covered by traditional on-site products. Furthermore, IT departments need to ensure their system has progressed in line with how the new workforce operates.
Workforces have progressed and are more dynamic. Employees expect continuous access to cloud-based systems, from any location. In a recent ESG Enterprise SaaS survey, 42% of enterprises suggested that over half of distributed or international employees have a low-level experience with vital SaaS applications. When these areas deteriorate, the potential for a business to remain competitive can also suffer. It is evident that businesses still need to focus on ensuring they deliver all of the benefits that SaaS has to offer.
There are several areas where SaaS can become a challenge for businesses, all of which can be fixed. However, all require dedicated personnel capable of delivering an approach to how their infrastructure is managed.
Proximity – SaaS applications can operate efficiently in the office space but quite often, users are working in a number of remote locations or traveling for business. With employees working away from the office, more people are experiencing problems will slower performance and poorer productive user experience.
In urban areas, we are often provided with affordable and fast bandwidth for offices. However, bandwidth isn’t as affordable in all locations and in some instances, cloud traffic can slow down dramatically if the bandwidth level does change. In locations where bandwidth is affordable, a movement to SaaS can require significant improvement to avoid any impacts on overall application performance.
Security and Compliance
SaaS tends to be more effective when implemented in every area of business. In some cases, such as with compliance, employees often require businesses to backhaul SaaS traffic via a data system due to their position on security. This creates an additional step of infrastructure, which can result in further delays and reduce overall performance.
Businesses today are increasingly mobile and include a number of mobile workers, accessing systems remotely or while travelling. In most cases, this includes accessing applications out of the hands of IT, which means measuring performance is more of a challenge and will inevitably become even more complicated in the near future. As employees become even more mobile, businesses will need to adapt their infrastructure and continue to manage visibility.
The Solution is Visibility
While there may be a number of challenges businesses may experience, there is a singular area that incorporates all of these issues and can effectively be fixed by applying a single solution.
Visibility on a large scale means IT teams are capable of understanding the user experience from anywhere. If used correctly, a visibility solution will create a simpler technique to enhance the performance of SaaS products and ensure a business remains productive. IT professionals want to ensure a simplistic process they can get from SaaS applications and ensure they have control over how user experience. In today’s generation, a matter of seconds can have a significant impact on levels of success.
Christian Klein, the new co-CEO of SAP has focused his attention on two big areas for this year. Whilst both will be a challenge, it is possible to see progress in both goals. In a discussion with Yahoo Finance at the World Economic Forum, Klein raised the importance of up-skilling technology professionals.
The necessity to retrain technology professionals is believed by many industry experts as an essential move to unlock the full potential of technology over the next few years. Klein believes that training is essential and will have significant future sales and profits at SAP.
Klein refers to the technology at SAP, stating that if workers are unable to utilise SAP’s new productivity tools to their best ability, businesses may reduce their orders. In reality, businesses may receive a lower return on their technology investment.
A new report delivered by Intel states that just over 35% of businesses raised the challenge of ‘technical skill gaps’ and that this was preventing them from completely benefiting from investment in technology. A further 18% of businesses suggest data management and interpretation as top employee challenges.
Klein’s second goal for SAP is to focus on accelerating cloud computing subscriptions, with a target of reaching $35 billion in revenue by 2023. This target follows on from Bill McDermott, the previous CEO of SAP who stated back in 2018 that he planned to triple cloud computing subscriptions. If this is reached, SAP’s market cap could lie in the range of $280 to 340 billion. Klein informed Yahoo Finance that SAP is on target with predictions of over $32 billion in sales this year and a current market cap standing at just over $172 billion.
SaaS is a reputed business model with proven success and has become a popular tool across many industries. The innovative model enables businesses to work directly with customers or quite commonly, use a separate partner. By using a partner, these companies effectively ‘own’ the customer relationship and the attached data, probably the most critical part of any business.
Many SaaS focused businesses are realising the necessity of creating a direct relationship with the customer, providing the business with greater control and further options. The transition from the regular SaaS business model involving a channel partner to a multi-dimensional platform positions the SaaS company at the core of the model and in a more controlling position. Whilst believed to be more effective, the multi-structured approach means SaaS companies need to establish connections with each part of the model and view each as a customer that has requirements, this incorporates the channel partners and the end customers.
Changing the approach
Generally, small SaaS businesses have developed specific agreements with their customers or suppliers as the business has developed. In nearly most instances, the SaaS business remains hidden to the customer using the service via their channel partners.
To deliver a successful service, SaaS businesses need to consider their business from a B2B and B2C perspective. Industry analysts believe the reshaping of these relationships represents the biggest challenge for the SaaS marketplace, involving meeting the needs of all members of the network.
Each section of the chain is looking to expand and the SaaS business needs to capture the areas where they can deliver and support each business in reaching that goal. To remain successful, SaaS businesses need to be adaptive and capable of transforming their existing models. Making the transition to a modern business model is likely a step that many companies need to make to remain competitive in an environment dominated by core technology.
Leading connected planning business Anaplan recently wrote a piece for Forbes on the focus for this year. Looking back at 2019, there were a number of uncertainties relating to various challenges including Brexit and Tariffs. Businesses battled to maintain prosperity during a transition in consumer demands and a continued rise in competition.
This year is anticipated to be another period of uncertainty, with elections influences market stability and signs of continued changes in global trading trends. Anaplan believes that those businesses likely to experience success and further development will be the ones that are capable of adapting to change and transform periods of uncertainty into a competitive advantage. Yet, in reality, many companies continue to use long-range planning systems, resulting in significantly slower response time to potential changes in the marketplace.
Real-Time Planning – a necessity?
Traditional long-term plans observed a market over several years and leaders would use a combination of current market trends and historical information to make predictions about the future. Many of these findings are used for large periods of time, not recognising the continuous market changes. As a result, the data generated is not accurate and more importantly, the information generated and used to make decisions is not necessarily correct.
Evolving market conditions and periods of uncertainty are effectively eliminating the benefits of implementing a long term plan. This was proven last year with many businesses that showed signs of agility creating higher levels of success over their competitors.
Businesses today need to be far more flexible than ever and responsive to change. For this year, business leaders should avoid long term planning tools and implement accurate, short term planning systems to target growth. This is exactly where connected planning systems can really support businesses in achieving this.
Connected Planning Systems
Connected Planning can support operations in a business, boosting productivity and transforming decision-making processes. Business leaders require a strategy that incorporates our ever-changing landscape, the benefits of technology and new regulations in our markets.
Connected Planning systems remove manual, time-consuming work, exactly the type of jobs you would associate with long-range planning. The system provides a singular platform, incorporating all parts of a business and delivering one channel of information. This translates into clarity, a source of information incorporating an entire company and enabling leaders to understand how their decisions will influence the whole company.
Decision-makers have the ability to define multiple scenarios, blending a range of variables to define what impact future market changes could have on business performance. Businesses can feel secure and more confident in their plans and use this time of uncertainty as an advantage.
A recent report by Forrester into the total economic impact led by Anaplan believes that investing in a connected planning tool can generate a number of improvements for a business. The study concluded that within three years, the Anaplan Connected Planning platform can generate an over 300% increase in return on investment.
Uncertainty is expected to be a common trend this year and consequently, companies that have the capability to plan in real-time will likely stay ahead of unstable times. Removing the long term plan and implementing a connected planning solution provides business leaders with an added level of agility. Integrated in the right way, connected planning provides businesses with a clear, accurate strategy to tackle future market changes and continue to advance during 2020.
AI has expanded in recent years and become widely accepted in businesses today. Implementing new AI tools enables businesses to remain efficient and gain a competitive edge in their selected market. Forbes recently released a number of top trends related to the AI market for 2020:
Predictive analytics utilised a combination of machine learning, historical data and other systems to generate potential scenarios for the future. Using these tools enables businesses to study certain trends and implement these to enhance businesses’ performance across many levels. Predictive analytics is growing rapidly and is helping businesses become more efficient thanks to several factors:
- Simplistic and affordable options
- Larger volumes of available data and information from a range of innovative tools
- Rising market saturation encouraging businesses to seek new ways to diversify
The predictive analytics market is expected to rise to nearly $11 billion by 2022 and has recorded over 20% compound growth for the last 3 years.
Rising Anomaly Detection Tools
There are daily occurring problems for businesses that are generally due to human-related errors and although relatively minor, they can collectively incur high costs for a business. Anomaly detection is becoming more popular to determine problems before they occur. This AI-focused system uses existing and historical data to determine certain datasets that really stand out, enabling a business to find certain errors in security, marketing and other parts of a business.
On the flip side, anomaly detection can also be used to discover beneficial gains for a business, such as determining the most efficient PPC strategy or targeted keywords to focus on SEO campaigns.
Machine Learning Cybersecurity Tools
Security continues to be a global concern and the potential of losing data is something that no business wishes to experience. According to Forbes, nearly 70% of small businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2018, hence the need for cybersecurity in machine learning systems. These services utilise AI to continuously monitor how a business operates, detecting any potential threats before they may cause damage. The tools allow a business to run smoothly and remain protected. For example, Microsoft Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) is a great example, deploying cloud AI and machine learning tools to identify threats and potential errors that could cause problems for a business.
Increased user-friendly AI platforms
For many businesses, AI can seem complicated and new technology can be more complex and slower to be integrated for many. This, however, is changing with Gartner suggesting that nearly 40% of businesses have implemented AI in their business, as this figure is rising. This is largely down to the rising release of user-friendly AI technology being released, enabling simplistic integration and data production. Users don’t necessarily need to be experts to use these tools and can successfully generate valuable information for their business.
AI for productivity and work balance
AI is generally regarded in terms of data and machines, but there is an increase in AI technology being applied to enhance the human side of a business. As described, AI can be utilised for anomaly detection and cybersecurity trends, allowing computer technology to do what it does best, whilst the people managing the business can focus on applying their expertise. PwC predicts AI will generate over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. They predict that most of this revenue will come from driving consumer behvaiour, boosting products and enhancing productivity. For example, the business VMware integrated AI-driven solutions to manage content and editing as it looked to scale further. The saved time enabled their writers to focus on training, onboarding new personnel and generating new and efficient systems.