Globally, businesses are moving towards sharing economy. While Airbnb and GoCar are examples of sharing concept for individuals, for business, there are co-working space and outsourced marketing services. Instead of employing full time branding and marketing staff, SMEs can leverage on the experience, branding models and expertise of these outsource companies without incurring equipment costs, space costs and others, yet enjoy more promising performance. The key benefit from sharing economy is the ability to benefit from it without high cost of owning or developing it.
Software as a Service (SaaS) is another sharing economy concept for Information Technology or IT investment. SaaS is a software distribution model in which third-party providers host applications and make it available to customers over the Internet. This is in contrast to on-premise deployments that require greater upfront investment which involves costly on-site hardware installation and incurring ongoing expenditure for maintenance, upgrades, support fees and licence fees. SaaS model bundles all the above into monthly/yearly subscription. There’s no hardware to install or maintain, simply log in and you are good to go. SMEs no longer need an in-house IT personnel to maintain the performance of its software and worry about on-going upgrades.
SAAS IS BEST SUITED FOR SMES FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS:
SMEs should identify what are their pain points or area of operational efficiency that needs improvement. SaaS tools are useful in many dimensions of our business processes or functional roles. Some of the most common SaaS tools include CRM, Accounting software, Website Builder, Project Management Software, Survey Software, Marketing Automation, Content Management, Live Chat, POS Software, Payroll, Social Media Management and many more. In fact, many SMEs do not realise that they have already been using SaaS for example Microsoft 365, Google Mail and Google Doc.
There are many SaaS in the market offering similar functions but with different pricing due to their brand and reputation. SaaS from overseas are mostly charged in USD and may still be on the high side for Malaysian SMEs, very few know that Malaysia has equivalent high performance and trustworthy SaaS providers. I urge SMEs to seriously consider Malaysian SaaS as many of them are on far or even better than foreign softwares.
In addition, SMEs can get better service support locally. Malaysians should not be surprised that some of the most popular softwares in the world are developed by our fellow Malaysians.
SOME MARKETING RELATED SAAS
Piktochart is a tool to help people create infographics easily. Today, Piktochart has expanded to become a tool not only to create infographics but presentations, reports, flyers, posters and more. Users can easily pick from a large library of icons, images, illustrations as well as use font and other design tools to create professional graphics without having to learn difficult technical design skills. It starts with only RM62.50 monthly.
Ticket2u by Cloudhax is an online ticketing and event management platform that helps businesses buy and sell, manage and check-in tickets for their event at ease. It smoothens all your ticket sales and registration tasks with just a fee of six percent from your ticket cost. Why develop your own software or get your team members to generate lists and reports using Excel?
EasyStore by Exabytes is an e-commerce website builder for small businesses. With EasyStore, you can get your business online in no time. People with no technical or web design skills can create a functional website for their e-commerce business with beautiful themes, store front, payment gateway and mobile commerce ready. Their Lite version starts with only RM 53.10 a month.
Kakitangan.com by Coastal Hectare is a Human Resource Platform which helps SMEs in managing their team members’ leave applications, payroll and claims submission efficiently. It automates the calculation of payments for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Social Security Organisation (Socso) and Income Tax. Employees can apply for leave and managers can approve it via their desktops or mobile devices. Go paperless!
There are many more SaaS which are affordable for SMEs but the priority should be your business needs than the advancement of technologies. In many of Bizsphere business, branding and marketing consultancy projects, we find that most SMEs’ bosses have zero knowledge of what their IT or what software can do. They treat it as an IT project. Instead, IT investment including Industry 4.0 which I have written about earlier, should be considered as a strategic element for business growth.
By Keng Teck Yap, Managing Consultant of Bizsphere Brand and Marketing Group.
Written for Business Today Magazine, Issue Oct 2019.