Imagine you’ve just presented the latest high-end mobile device to a team member. They both share the satisfaction of being in this moment, and for a short while there is no one better equipped than this team member to take on the digital business world.
Unfortunately, that feeling fades when a more advanced next-gen model arrives, perhaps just months after you’ve made your capital investment. When the latest and greatest device 12.0 is surpassed by Big Time Device 13.0 in six months, most companies are in no mood for another expensive upgrade. And this scenario is not limited to mobile devices.
It just doesn’t work that way with software investments these days. Today’s Software-as-a-Service is a boon for CIOs; In my experience, they love having access to cloud-based programs on a subscription basis rather than having to buy copies of the software. But they still have to buy the hardware to run the apps on – don’t they?
Escape the shackles of ownership
Owning something outright doesn’t always make sense. Many people prefer to lease a car because they don’t have to pay for maintenance or depreciation. The monthly costs are often lower than the installments for a car loan. Also, they can trade it in for a new model in a few years. And while it’s true that the lessor does not own the asset, rapid depreciation means the asset’s value is always less than what a buyer paid new for it.
Mobile devices, required for business operations apps, represent a similar offering for businesses, and this creates a misalignment between how businesses procure software and associated hardware to keep the business running. With SaaS apps, your employees can use the latest and greatest, always up-to-date software, but they have to run it on the device the company last bought—even if it’s already outdated by today’s device marketplace.
Of course, your employees need access to these devices to do their jobs. But if your organization owns the devices, you not only pay to buy them, but also to maintain them and eventually replace them. Then you have an old phone, tablet or desktop lying around that you can sell for a fraction of its cost, or at least erase before disposal so company data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
And there is another downside. The sheer cost of some of these devices could mean not every employee is likely to get one, leaving many employees disconnected from the larger team.
Why would a company subscribe to cloud-based software and then buy equipment hoping the latter can do a good job of hosting the former? I believe that having access to mobile devices – without owning them and without IT staff managing, maintaining and replacing them if they break – is a much better business proposition.
BUILT FOR THE JOB
It’s also worth asking: Why do we assume we’re going to need smartphones, tablets, or computers to run the apps we need at work just because they’re the most familiar devices? Many apps could run just as well – if not better – on devices designed specifically for those apps. For example, a voice-based app might run best on a smart speaker or even a headset designed by the app developer and made available directly to the app’s users.
What if there was a way to combine the device and software from the same vendor at a subscription price that didn’t require capital investment or ownership of physical assets?
After all, in my experience, it’s not the device itself that companies and their employees care about; Businesses care about results and effectiveness. So as long as you can deploy the right app on a device that runs effectively, it doesn’t matter whether it’s purely utilitarian or the hottest smartphone out there.
I believe the solution to the mismatch between software and hardware procurements is to combine SaaS with a companion model known as Device-as-a-Service. The result is a new standard called Everything-as-a-Service.
DEPLOY APPS AND DEVICES TOGETHER
In the past three years, the world of business technology has seen a dramatic shift in CIOs’ spending priorities. According to Christopher Gilchrist, a senior research analyst at Forrester, 60% of companies are accelerating the shift from capital expenditures to operating expenditures. CIOs know that Capex purchases almost always come with diminishing returns and require constant maintenance and upgrades. If CIOs can get what they need while turning the costs into manageable and predictable operational expenses, why shouldn’t they? I believe that’s why SaaS is so popular.
DaaS also fits into this trend and opens the door for providers to offer EaaS. In other words, it’s the hardware and the software apps delivered together as part of the same subscription package.
This means that a solution provider can design a device specifically to run the provider’s app or apps and automatically provide the subscriber with new or updated programs as part of the package. And if the programming grows to the point that the device supplied can no longer support it, the vendor can upgrade or provide a replacement device—just like with the software.
I think Device-as-a-Service is an idea whose time has come. It’s already shaking up the status quo that once saw buying mobile devices as a justifiable and rational business strategy. And when DaaS goes hand-in-hand with SaaS—marrying cloud-based software delivery with purpose-built hardware—everything-as-a-service subscriptions could become a new standard for solution delivery.
As co-founder and CTO of Theatro, Ravi Kumar leads solution architecture and innovation projects.