SaaS both opportunity and threat, EI summit hears


27 Jun 2007

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An Enterprise Ireland summit in Dublin today heard how software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a huge opportunity for the Irish software sector but presents a danger for companies that do not recognise the value of the business model.

Frank McCracken, a founder and professional services director of Irish-headquartered Saaspoint, which operates in North America, Europe and Middle East, told the summit that the Internet had fundamentally changed the rules of developing and delivering software.

“Ireland has a great reputation for the quality of its technology. The big barrier to international success has been the ability to distribute this globally. This problem can be solved by using internet platforms like Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, which is like an iTunes for business applications. Suddenly companies of any size, no matter how small, have access to a real platform for global distribution.”

He said that Saaspoint had won major international business by using the global shop window that is AppExchange. Saaspoint is Europe’s largest specialist Salesforce.com developer and implementation consultancy firm.

He added that SaaS also axes development times for software applications, a major advantage in an economy with a shortage of skilled software engineers. “Traditional software takes months and years to develop and debug. We have been able to develop full-blown on-demand applications in 40 days or less, which was unheard of in the past,” he said.

This is made possible, he postulated, by being able to develop on a stable, scalable internet-based platform that is Salesforce.com. “This has democratised and depoliticised software development because you no longer need to adapt for underlying or historical customer platform decisions, because the platform is just a web browser.

“SaaS is a huge opportunity for the Irish software industry because the huge investment previously required for distribution has now gone and because even very niche solutions can now find viability through a global presence,” he continued.

However, he warned that Saas presented a danger to companies who do not realise what is happening in this space. “Even global powerhouses like SAP, Microsoft and Siebel have discovered this to their cost. This marketplace is now about being ‘in touch’ with what your customers want and what technologies are being used to deliver this. Without this level of awareness, there will be no relevant innovation and Ireland will be left behind.”

By Niall Byrne