by Patrick Comer, Founder and CEO
One of the largest challenges that modern companies face is handling the onslaught of new technologies that are both automating and improving their core products and processes. Every day another salesperson from a SaaS (Software as a Service), API, and cloud-based platform is asking for 5 minutes to discuss the next big thing to change the organization. The problem is that most of them are really, really good and might actually improve the business. But how am I going to vet, onboard, train, and maintain all these different platforms that rarely play well together? It’s easy to throw your hands up in despair, but those companies that are up to the challenge will find huge advantages.
So why aren’t we drowning in a sea of SaaS? We’ve largely designed our business around the opportunity:
Trends of the modern tech-centric company
1. Integration – Typically, technology developers spend the majority of the time building the core product of the business… in our case Fulcrum. While this is still the case, we find more and more of the engineering time is spent with integrations— product integrations like connecting Fulcrum to ZappiStore but also process integrations such as Fulcrum to Salesforce and NetSuite. Multiple months of effort can be eliminated if that connection has already been released by one of the companies: Desk to Slack for example or Namely to Netsuite.
2. Hiring researchers that can code – Historically, there was a specific divide between the tech team and the business units… those that can code and those that cannot and ne’er the twain shall meet. We are seeing a huge shift away from this model in two ways— first, the tech teams are more integrated with the business units. It’s hard to build a product if you don’t understand the client needs. More interestingly, we are hiring more coders into the business units because they can pull together MVPs or integrations before they become fully productized.
3. Stitching it all together – What used to be the domain of the CTO, IT, and Product Development, is now core to the long-term viability of the modern business. Now it’s the CEO’s job to understand and maintain that vision. Companies will succeed on their ability to support multiple 3rd party platforms, stitched together by APIs and managed in the cloud. The pain of onboarding and training the next SaaS platform is now a strategic advantage, and Lucid is positioning itself to be one of many platforms and products in the mix.
How to approach SaaS onboarding in your business
1. Automating your core product – Over the past 15 years, numerous platforms have developed to automate the research process. Everything from Qualtrics to ZappiStore gives researchers and their clients high value capabilities. In fact, each manual function now has a robust toolkit – Reporting, Sampling (Fulcrum), Survey Programming, and Visualization. The challenge is not in the tools themselves but the cost of ownership beyond the licensing fees: onboarding and training, maintenance, and integration with existing infrastructure. The cost of failed onboarding is extraordinarily high, which is why Lucid invests so heavily in those teams.
2. Automating your core business functions – the same can also be said of business processes – you know, the standard back office of your company: accounting, recruiting, IT, payroll, communications. Here at Lucid, we’ve onboarded multiple platforms: Jazz, NetSuite, Namely, Salesforce, Github, Slack, AWS, Gmail, Concur, and many more. Each of the platforms can dramatically improve the efficiency, speed, and cost structure of the business, but each additional platform also compounds the total cost of ownership.
Integration, integration, integration
Clients are continually asking for more speed and efficiency while maintaining quality. Eventually, most research will literally be ‘real-time’ and automated from end to end. We started our approach to this opportunity by integrating our product directly into the related research platforms. We quickly realized that all our core business functions also needed a platform and that these functions in addition must be integrated into the overall research and business ‘stack’. For example, in order to compete on speed and efficiency, accounting needs to be streamlined and integrated with the research process. Strategically, those companies that can ride the wave of integrations will be well-positioned to compete in the global marketplace.
This post was originally published in the GreenBook Research Industry Trends Report for Q3-Q4 2015. Click here to download the full GRIT Report.