Giva Blog
Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

What is the History of Cloud Software?

History

The concept of "software as a service" started to circulate prior to 1999 and was considered to be "gaining acceptance in the marketplace" in Bennett et al., 1999 paper on "Service Based Software".

Whilst the term "software as a service" was in common use, the CamelCase acronym "SaaS" was allegedly not coined until several years later in a white paper called "Strategic Backgrounder: Software as a Service" by the Software & Information Industry's eBusiness Division published in Feb. 2001, but written in fall of 2000 according to internal Association records.

Philosophy

As a term, SaaS is generally associated with business software and is typically thought of as a low-cost way for businesses to obtain the same benefits of commercially licensed, internally operated software without the associated complexity and high initial cost. Many types of software are well suited to the SaaS model, where customers may have little interest or capability in software deployment, but do have substantial computing needs. Application areas such as Customer relationship management (CRM), video conferencing, human resources, IT service management, accounting, IT security, web analytics, web content management and e-mail are some of the initial markets showing SaaS success. The distinction between SaaS and earlier applications delivered over the Internet is that SaaS solutions were developed specifically to leverage web technologies such as the browser, thereby making them web-native. The data design and architecture of SaaS applications are specifically built with a 'multi-tenant' backend, thus enabling multiple customers or users to access a shared data model. This further differentiates SaaS from client/server or 'ASP' (Application Service Provider) solutions in that SaaS providers are leveraging enormous economies of scale in the deployment, management, support and through the Software Development Lifecycle.

What is Cloud or SaaS Software?

Software as a Service (SaaS, typically pronounced 'sass') is a model of software deployment where an application is hosted as a service provided to customers across the Internet. By eliminating the need to install and run the application on the customer's own computer, SaaS alleviates the customer's burden of software maintenance, ongoing operation, and support. Conversely, customers relinquish control over software versions or changing requirements; moreover, costs to use the service become a continuous expense, rather than a single expense at time of purchase. Using SaaS also can conceivably reduce that up-front expense of software purchases, through less costly, on-demand pricing. SaaS lets software vendors control and limit use, prohibits copies and distribution, and control all derivative versions of their software. This centralized control often allows the vendor to establish an ongoing revenue stream. The SaaS software vendor may host the application on its own web server, or this function may be handled by a third-party application service provider (ASP). This way, end users may reduce their investment on server hardware too.

Save Money with Cloud or Hosted Platforms

Most SaaS platforms intend to provide the following:

Tenancy – The ability to distinguish one user from another in the data and execution aspects of a hosted application is a major tenet of SaaS. Generally, the concept of tenancy is void in traditional on-premise installs and can complicate architectures beyond what was traditionally accepted.

Scalability – The idea that a successful application will buckle under its own popularity is never good. Being able to accommodate your aggregated customer base is a must, and planning for success is a requirement.

Reliability – What good is a SaaS application that isn’t up?

Hardware Infrastructure – As a vendor, one of the operational headaches of SaaS applications is dealing with an enterprise-grade hardware infrastructure.

Value Added Services – A good platform should endow the application it hosts with value beyond what was developed by the vendor. The value should benefit the end user.

Ecosystem – As the number of vendors that host their applications on a given platform increases, and as the number of users using those applications increases, an ecosystem begins to develop. Ideally, this ecosystem allows all parties the ability to investigate and exercise their right to connections between ecosystem members, deriving value beyond that offered by any single SaaS offering.

Here is a good white paper on Saving Money with SaaS

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

IT Help Desk and Customer Service Metrics and Reports

Here are some metrics to measure your help desk and customer service operation by:

What kind of help desk or customer support organization are you running? As you can see the cost per call is significantly different. This will impact the Return on Investment (ROI) of your help desk or customer support organization. Of course, the strategic stage help desk has the highest customer service and the highest first call resolution rate.  Customers also call the help desk or customer service organization less often as the strategic organization has taken many proactive steps to reduce call volume by addressing the root cause of calls to the help desk or customer service organization.

 

help-desk-bar

Reprinted from CIO Magazine

Here are two great White Papers on the topic:

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/customer-service-best-practices.htm

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/help-desk-best-practices.htm

IT Help Desk and Customer Service Software (ROI)

Giva may be able to significantly increase the Return-On-Investment (ROI) of your current Help Desk or Customer Service call tracking and reporting system.  In order to help you determine this, Giva hired an independent 3rd party to build a Best Practices ROI Model that will enable you to compare your current help desk or customer service software system to Giva. We need some inputs from you so that we can run them through our ROI calculation model.

After you provide some inputs, Giva will perform an ROI analysis and our professional services organization will summarize the results for you in a custom report. We know that you will find this ROI Analysis Report very helpful to justify whether Giva will generate a higher ROI than your current system.

Please take a few moments to read Steps 1, 2 and 3 and quickly review the entire Excel and let me know if you have any questions before you go off and start the exercise.

Open up a request and ask us for the Return-On-Investment (ROI) Excel tool at https://www.givainc.com/sales.htm

Cloud/SaaS/Hosted or Traditional Software Licenses?

Here is a great white paper with a comprehensive look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis any decision maker should complete before making a choice between a SaaS or a traditional software deployment.

The key cost drivers for any software implementation are the cost of the software application, the hardware required to run the application and the people services required to design, deploy, manage, maintain and support the application.

> Traditional software pricing is limited to the cost of the software application, in most cases an upfront fee in exchange for a perpetual user license. It is up to the customer to determine the cost of the hardware and the people services.

> SaaS applications are charged on a subscription basis. The subscription fee includes the cost of the software application, the hardware and the people services.

This difference in pricing models can make an apples-to-apples TCO comparison “tricky”.

Software and hardware costs are well understood but the people resources associated with traditional software applications are often underestimated or omitted in a TCO analysis. As a result, the usage driven subscription cost of SaaS applications can seem to be the more expensive solution over a multi-year period. However, when these people resources are correctly associated, deploying a SaaS application becomes – in many cases – the more cost effective option.

This white paper helps in better understanding all the different cost factors and includes a TCO calculation for you that will help influencers and decision makers to better estimate the true TCO of a SaaS versus a traditional software deployment. The ultimate goal of this paper is to educate the reader that in some cases traditional software applications remain the right choice, but in other cases deploying SaaS applications provide a better business case.

Please see https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

How to Buy Help Desk Cloud Software

Help desk and customer service software empowers businesses to take a more proactive approach to addressing customer issues. Companies can eliminate the inefficient, manual procedures that cause lags in response times, and solve customer problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. But, selecting the right help desk or customer service software solution can be complex and confusing. How can you make the process easier?

Outline Your Needs

Build a list of your key requirements before you begin calling in vendors.

Start by talking to key stakeholders and end users to determine what their goals and challenges are, and what kinds of tools they need to achieve or overcome them. This will help you identify the help desk or customer service software features you can't live without.

Select a Vendor

Once you know what kind of help desk or customer service software you're looking for, you can begin evaluating providers.

Talk with your colleagues about what products they are using to achieve success. Review the Web for customer case studies to find the best-matched vendors. Sometimes the perspectives of industry analysts can be helpful, but remember that they do not use the products that they discuss with you. Wouldn't it be smarter if you found very happy customers who you have needs in common. Conduct an in-depth assessment of each product, and compare it to your  list of requirements. The best way to accomplish this is to have a very clearly detailed Needs Assessment that asks insightful questions about features and functionality that your stakeholders need. Once you've identified those vendors who can meet all or most of your needs, review their histories, support track record, financial statuses, and speak with their customers.

Request Demos and Trials

Product demonstrations are a standard part of the sales process, but make sure you see more than just a canned or pre-recorded one. Request a customized demo that highlights those features on your checklist, and simulates processes within your current help desk or customer service environment.

But remember, a demonstration - no matter how in-depth - will only provide you with an overview of a help desk or customer service software package's capabilities. If you want to really see how the solution will work, you'll need to trial the software for 30 days before you commit to buying it. Will the vendor provide unlimited support during the trial without cost to make sure that you are well taken care of? If not, you need to ask yourself, "what will happen once I become a customer if they do not want to support me now while I am still a prospect"?

Here is a great Excel Tool that will help you document your needs and requirements. See https://www.givainc.com/free-needs-assessment/index.htm

Reduce IT Help Desk Costs with Cloud/SaaS

Given the state of the worldwide economy, it is timely to now to review how much money your company can saved with Software-as-a-Service.  Why is Software as a Service (SaaS) so popular?  Is your company making budget reductions, but want to keep providing exceptional levels of customer service and support?  SaaS can help you reduce costs while giving your team a product that is generally easier to learn and use with minimal training and not require any IT resources to support. Every time you go to your IT department to ask for assistance, they probably say they have too many project that will directly impact revenue so they cannot help your with customer service software selection, deployment and ongoing maintenance. With Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you do not need resources from the IT department to get your project started and keep going.

It's the economics stupid!

Look at the Total Cost of of ownership for required hardware and software for a typical midsized Customer Service department, Call Center or IT help desk.  These costs do not consider the cost of the actual customer service, call center or IT help desk software.

It's Green and Cheap!

Also, do you really need to have more servers in your company data center burning up power for server operation and cooling. It's an inefficient use of energy. Ask a SaaS vendor if they use a multitenant architecture. Many Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are architected from the start as pure web applications and have multiple customers sharing the same underlying server infrastructure.  This saves power and cooling resources by leveraging and sharing computing infrastructure. Smart CIOs and VPs of Customer Service are planning for this today.

Take a look at these numbers. Are you surprised?

GARTNER GROUP ESTIMATES- 3 YEAR INFRASTRUCTURE & ADMINISTRATION COSTS OF OWNING 2 SERVERS

SUMMARY:

3 Year Infrastructure & Administration Costs of Owning Servers $259,100

  •      Server Support & Maintenance $208,500
  •      Server Hardware & Software $50,600

DETAILS:

1. Database Server required
One server at minimum is required to run applications. DB server cost estimate is $10,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power 40% of cost per year. Use $10,000 x 40% x 3 years = $12,000
$22,000

2. Database Licenses Required
Microsoft SQL @ $5,500 processor license x 2 processors is $11,000. Plus annual software maintenance is 20%..$11,000 x 20% x 3 years =$6,600
$17,600

3. Web Server required
A web server is required for best performance. Total Web Server cost estimate is $5,000 for hardware. Plus annual maintenance contract and power cost is 40% of cost per year. Use $5,000 x 40% x 3 years = $6,000
$11,000

4. General Server Administration (O/S, Patches, Virus, BIOS, HD...)
Servers and O/S require continuous maintenance. Gartner Group estimates 65 hrs/year @ $150/hr. per server is $9,750 x 2 servers x 3 years is $58,500.
$58,500

5. Daily Incremental and Full Weekly Back-up
Your IT department either performs or must automate data backup. Back-up media storage process and costs associated with off-site storage. Gartner Group estimates $10,000/yr. per server x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.
$60,000

6. Required Application & Database Administration
Database and application requires continuous monitoring for performance and storage. Gartner Group estimates 50 hrs/year per installation @ $200/hr. is $10,000 x 2 servers x 3 years is $60,000.
$60,000

7. Man-hours required for upgrades
How many total IT man-hours are required to implement an upgrade (Backup, install)? Gartner Group estimates average upgrade requires 80 hrs @ $125/hr is $10,000 x 1 time/yr. x 3 years =$30,000. This does not included user training.
$30,000

Other costs to consider if you want to own Customer Service, Call Center and IT Help Desk software:

8. Up-front configuration required
Configuration requires outside consulting, significant time and input from your organization. As your needs change, this is an ongoing cost.

9. Frequency of incremental upgrades (Months)
How often does the vendor distribute upgrades? What is your required process to deploy an upgrade?

10. User Training
How much additional administrator and user training is required to gain proficiency with a complex client server application deployed locally vs. an externally hosted application? Do you need to maintain programmers and Crystal Reports experts on staff?

Here is a great White Paper on the topic.

The title is "Saving Money with Software-as-a-Service". See  https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

Customer Service Software Key Features/Best Practices

Customer Service Software can empower businesses to improve and enhance their critical post-sales support operations.

+Boost Productivity and Improve Your Customer Service

The ability to rapidly answer inquiries, address issues, and solve problems is crucial to achieving and maintaining the highest levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Many businesses are turning to customer service software to dramatically enhance their post-sales support operations.

Customer service automation, can significantly improve the productivity and responsiveness of service and support teams by centralizing and streamlining the tasks associated with issue management. Staff members can effectively track and monitor the status of customer problems and related activities every step of the way, from the moment they are reported until they are resolved, to ensure smooth and efficient handling.

With customer service software, support teams can also leverage a comprehensive, yet intuitive knowledge base that provides them with easy access to the thorough and detailed information they need to quickly satisfy customer requirements. This knowledge base not only increases efficiency, it enhances collaboration across product development, quality assurance, field consulting and support, and other departments by allowing them to share timely and accurate information as it becomes available.

+Let Your Customers Help Themselves

One of the most beneficial features of a customer service software solution is its self-service capabilities. With customer service software, customers have convenient, 24 x 7 access to Web-based help, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting tips, and product documentation, so they can solve routine problems on their own. If they have more complex issues that require further assistance, they can then report a problem or open a service request or job ticket online.

+Make Better Decisions

Many customer service software packages also include powerful business intelligence capabilities. Supervisors can use reports and analytics to instantly identify and understand the positive and negative trends that impact both help desk operations, and the business as a whole. For example:

  • Do certain products have above average defect or breakdown rates?
  • Are customers having difficulty understanding assembly instructions, operating manuals, or user guides?
  • What new features or functions have clients been asking for?
+Customized for Your Business

Customer needs, common issues, and support processes and related work flows vary greatly from industry to industry and from company to company. Businesses must have a flexible solution that can be tailored to effectively meet their unique and specific requirements. But, as important as this capability is, not all customer service software solutions on the market today are fully customizable.

+A Few More Common Customer Service Software Features

Other common customer service software features include:

  • Support for multiple communication channels, including phone, Web, email, live chat, and co-browsing.
  • Dynamic resource allocation that automatically assigns staff members to specific customer issues, based on their current workload, as well as their skills, education, and experience.
  • Dynamic real-time alerts that instantly notify managers of any potential breakdowns in critical support processes. For example, a supervisor can receive an immediate alert when an unusual or highly-complex problem is reported, or when a customer issue goes unresolved for an extended period of time.

Here is a great White Paper on the topic:

https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/customer-service-best-practices.htm

Reduce Costs with SaaS/Cloud IT Help Desk

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) revolution allows companies to subscribe to software applications and outsource operating the back-end infrastructure to the SaaS vendor. In most cases, the SaaS vendor can do this much more cost effective; providing overall cost savings for the company. As a result, companies can spread their IT budget across many more applications to support and grow their business operations which will in turn contribute to the bottom line.

 

Here is a great White Paper on Saving Money with SaaS. See https://www.givainc.com/white-papers/Save-Money-with-Software-as-a-Service-SaaS.htm

 

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