With the global landscape changing rapidly across every sector due to the global pandemic, R. Vivekanand (Vivek), vice president and head of TCS Financial Solutions shares his insights into the opportunities and challenges of the SaaS and Cloud market.
The Software as a Service (SaaS) landscape has changed so much in the last 18 months. Triggered by the global Covid-19 pandemic, whatever we predicted would happen in five years has happened in one, with huge changes to the Cloud and its adoption.
It’s safe to say that now there is pretty much no one out there asking “Why cloud?”. Two years ago many people would have been dragging their feet on cloud adoption, making excuses as to why they haven’t finalised that strategy. But now cloud isn’t a question, it’s a given. Its many benefits are well known throughout the industry, including its cost-effectiveness, and everyone now has to see cloud as an option. If they choose not to take that option they’re certainly going to have some explaining to do, especially to their boards, as to why.
The pandemic really forced the industry’s hand in many ways, as we had to collectively find solutions for what were perceived as problems. For example, data security, speed, bandwidth access from anywhere – these were all issues identified due to lockdowns with the majority of the workforce logging on from home. We had to find solutions for those issues, and we had to do it quickly, so that’s really why the market has seen such rapid expansion. We were expecting a very gradual adoption of cloud across industries over 3-5 years, instead we had an accelerated push of acceptance and adoption over a short period of 18 months.
A big opportunity that has arisen because of SaaS is that the barrier for change has gone down. I think a lot of financial institutions have been reluctant in the past to change their plans and strategies to SaaS as its adoption comes with certain perceptions. Many people believe it’s a big core system change equivalent to open-heart surgery, but that’s simply not the case. Of course, as with anything, there are risks involved so to some extent, the perceptions are true. However, SaaS is a running system on the cloud that you can simply bolt onto, get onboarded and then implement the software update. It’s that easy. This all leads to breaking down the barrier of resistance. The solution is proven, it’s running and ready for the local market, so we’re going to see more and more institutions embrace it.
Another opportunity available closely aligned to this is that some institutions may not be able to create a business case for a new solution if they were to implement it all by themselves. Whereas when they embrace it or adopt it on the cloud in the SaaS model, their capital requirements are much less which means that more people can refresh and work on the new system. Because of this, the universe of who can adopt the system is constantly expanding.
The advancements within the SaaS and cloud sectors of course aid this. One thing in particular that comes to mind is how cloud supports better performance on micro-services and its constant improvements. Hybrid cloud is a given now for people like us. People don’t tend to go with one provider, you have to support a range of providers due to differences in the market regionally. A company may have to choose a different provider for the specific regulatory needs in that country, so hybrid cloud architecture allows us to provide that choice.
The other big change that we’re seeing is what you could call industry cloud, which means a specialised cloud for a particular kind of business. This is something we are creating in our offering, leveraging that development and expectation within the market to provide a set of specialised solutions for the financial service industry on a cloud in SaaS model.
The future of software is SaaS. Saas is becoming the single biggest medium of software usage. In a way, we’ve all already adopted it without even realising, for example with our laptops or mobile phones. We may own the actual device but we don’t own the software on it, we simply pay for its usage. So I think when looking to the future of software usage, SaaS will be the only model -, most people may not even offer software in any other form. It should be noted that that’s not our strategy as we still have many financial institutions that want to use it on-premise. We’re not cloud-only, but cloud-first, and that will be key moving forward.