We're all familiar with software that you buy and install on your computer to use, well there's a new way of getting things done and it involves accessing functionality and services online. If you've used the Google email client then you're already familiar with hosted web applications and some of the benefits that this kind of online software can bring, the business model for delivering these services is called Software as a Service (SaaS) and there are a number of key characteristics that make software delivered in this manner different.
1. Available anywhere
You can access your software from any computer equipped with a web browser and an internet connection, this means that offices in a number of locations can all work on the same information in real time, without having to go to the complexity and expense of setting up a vpn.
2. Automatic Updates
Updates and improvements are rolled out automatically without you having to install any upgrades onto your computer.
3. Low entry cost
Because the overhead for running the system is managed centrally the infrastructure costs are spread across a high number of users. Also, you are not paying for implementation so set-up costs are minimal.
4. Managed services
Because the software is delivered as a service you can generally get a level of support built in.
Usage levels are linked to a pricing scale which means that you can pay as you go and scale up or down smoothly without having to buy servers or employ more staff to maintain infrastructure, just add or remove licenses and service packages to match your needs.
6. Cross Platform
Whether you use a Mac, a PC or even Linux, because you access the software through a web browser your operating system is not a problem.
Remember that it's usually free trial services of this kind so it shouldn't cost you anything to make sure any particular service is right for you before you pay a penny.
Ultimately whichever service you feel is the right one for your business you'll be using the speed and efficiency that the web can bring to your business and working faster and more effectively.