by Gary Cokins
The Internet. For those readers near my age of 66, can you believe that we experienced the birth of the Internet during our lifetime?
In the few generations before ours they experienced the birth of creating manmade fire for heat, the steam engine for power, electricity for light, and the telegraph and telephone for communications. One could argue that the Internet will be the technology with the comparatively greater impact on mankind and society than those prior breakthrough technologies I just mentioned.
One of the several uses of the Internet is cloud-based business applications. For some context and perspective let’s consider where we were in the last decades regarding technology, where we are today, and where we will be tomorrow.
I mentioned that I am 66. When I was a child raised in Chicago we did not have PlayStations, Nintendos, or Xboxes – no video games at all. We did not have 150 channels on cable or satellite TV or video movies or DVDs. We had no surround sound or CDs, no mobile phones, no personal computers, and no Internet. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
Skipping ahead a few decades in my life I vaguely recall back then seeing billboard sign and television advertisements. I initially asked myself, “What is this?” Then I realized that I better get access to this thing then called the World Wide Web – the WWW we now refer to as the Internet. I also realized that I needed an e-mail address. I will again display my old age because my ISP is American Online – AOL.
In those early years one used the Internet mainly to e-mail others. It was replacing letters inside stamped envelopes. Some used the Internet to view websites of organizations. E-commerce shopping had not yet arrived, and there were no online services like Google, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Today’s technology – personal and business
So here we are today. As a reader of this blog that I am writing you could easily write my next few paragraphs! You could describe how you use the Internet for personal purposes. Your examples would include shopping, entertainment (e.g., video and music), search engines (e.g., Google and Bing), reading about current events (e.g., news media), socializing (e.g., Facebook and Twitter), and traditional e-mail communications just to name a few.
For business purposes some of you might use the Internet for e-commerce purchasing and invoicing, to attend educational webinars, or for conference calls (e.g., WebEx). Some organizations are using the Internet to migrate from on-premise hardware and software computing to cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) now provided by software vendors. I described the benefits of cloud-based services in my prior blog “Why would a business move to a cloud-based solution?”
Tomorrow’s Internet cloud – the future
My belief is the three most appealing features of tomorrow’s cloud-based SaaS from software vendors are: (1) mobility, (2) customization, and (3) collaboration. I will briefly describe each of them.
- Mobility – This requires no explanation. Nobody today is tethered to only their desktop computer. Everyone has a tablet or a mobile phone. (A clarification – it is not just a phone. It is a computer! It simply has as a phone as one of its dozens of features.) Today it is anytime, anywhere, anyplace. Enough said.
- Customization – Some think of our Millennial generation of 21-35 year olds as spoiled and selfish. Some view them as the greedy “me” generation rather than as the sacrificing generations of their parents and grandparents. I will not share with you what my belief is of Millennials, but what do observe is that Millenials have been raised from infancy where they can customize almost anything to their preferences. This can range from ordering a hamburger prepared at a fast food restaurant to the apps on their mobile devices to their profile settings with their social media services. In business using SaaS executives, managers and employees can tailor their personal landing page with the relevant “tiles” they desire to initially and immediately view. The “tiles” might be dashboards with metrics, text news, or progress reports. What is displayed is what they want and need. It is not forced upon them from an anonymous programmer in the IT department.
- Collaboration – My belief is that collaboration within a SaaS application will be the most underestimated yet eventually most appreciated cloud-based SaaS feature. ERP, FP&A, and analytics tools convert data into information to provide insights and foresight to support better decisions. But decisions require actions that typically involve discussion and consensus with teams and eventual approvals from managers. It is cumbersome to first view information from reports and then jump over to a phone or into e-mail to discuss the information with others. Why not have the discussion in the app?
Surprise! Tomorrow is here today!
The leading SaaS software vendors (which are only a few) today provide the type of application for collaboration that I just described. One does not have to wait.
Barbara Streisand’s singing of the song “People Who Need People” from the 1964 musical Funny Girl was misleading. All people, not just some, need other people to have an impact. Keep your eye on collaboration with SaaS applications. It will be the number one most appreciated application.
Join us at the SAP Conference for Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls in Las Vegas 10-11 November, where I’ll be delivering a presentation on performance and risk management. I hope to see you there!
About the Author: Gary Cokins, CPIM
Gary Cokins (Cornell University BS IE/OR, 1971; Northwestern University Kellogg MBA 1974) is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) systems. He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC www.garycokins.com . He began his career in industry with a Fortune 100 company in CFO and operations roles. Then 15 years in consulting with Deloitte, KPMG, and EDS (now part of HP). From 1997 until 2013 Gary was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a business analytics software vendor. His most recent books are Performance Management: Integrating Strategy Execution, Methods, Risk, and Analytics and Predictive Business Analytics.