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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

At Aladtec We Are “A-Whole-Lotta-SaaS”!

While my last blog was about Cloud Computing, this one goes a step further and explains SaaS, which is within the definition of Cloud Computing...under the cloud umbrella if you will.  At Aladtec, we are all about the SaaS!  Which is an acronym for Software-as-a-Service, in some circles it is also referred to as On Demand Software.  SaaS is only accessible from “the cloud”, delivered via the Internet versus the type of software you download onto a computer or computers. I guess “they” could have called it Internet Software, but then the service part would have been left out which is a vital part of the description. Plus...SaaS rolls off the tongue so much better.

As I mentioned, the service part is key to the SaaS definition, because the SaaS provider supplies service based online software.  The software is offered to customers online for a monthly or yearly fee but is managed by the SaaS developer/owner.  It allows anyone the customer chooses in their agency or company to access the software from any internet enabled device.   None of the associated costs of traditional computer software are incurred,  for example: no capital investment to outfit multiple computers with the software and any necessary hardware; no calls to the IT department (the SaaS provider supplies the tech support); and no need to buy updates or new versions (they are included in your subscription fee).  

You are likely using, or at least familiar with, a number of SaaS products in the public safety industry, such as: HealthEMS from Sansio which is used for field data collection, management, and reporting; CentreLearn offering web-based continuing education programs for EMS agencies and fire departments; and Ambutrak an inventory and asset control and fleet management cloud-based software...and of course our very own EMS Manager and FIRE Manager from Aladtec.

Accessibility is the most convenient and often the most touted feature of SaaS. It’s usable anytime from anywhere you can get online.  It’s great for companies with flex time options, on-call crews, volunteer employees, remote offices, satellite employees and work from home situations.  Most SaaS providers offer apps (applications) for mobile devices and smartphones, providing additional accessibility and convenience.  One user of EMS Manager said he even checked in all the time from his smart phone while on vacation just to see what was happening while he was gone!

Also, SaaS products are typically offered as a subscription so there isn’t that large upfront investment I mentioned earlier and the customer can drop the SaaS anytime they want.  I like the way that sounds, “Drop the SaaS!”  However, that’s the last thing the provider wants to hear!  And, they likely won’t hear it since SaaS providers often save their customers both time and money.
“We save at least $50,000 a year by using SaaS products versus traditional computer software or custom solutions,” according to Dave Feyereisen, Co-Founder and President of Aladtec.  “The SaaS solutions we use help our people operate more efficiently, leaving more time to support our customers and engineer better products .”

Better products for customers like West Feliciana Parish Hospital EMS. Lynn Clement, an EMT-P there says, "The subscription option was definitely a deciding factor in deciding to try this system. It would have been a much harder sell to administration if it had required a large upfront cost. Taking into account the hours saved with EMS Manager it is nearly free to us."

At Aladtec, we use Salesforce to track our customers, leads, and prospects; FogBugz to track our development process; Browsera automates our browser compatibility testing; and we use Google Analytics to analyze our public web site traffic and online marketing.  We’re also planning to move our desktop accounting software to SaaS at some point in the future as well.  

That’s the basic lowdown on Software-as-a-Service and how it relates to Aladtec. It’s a warm, sunny spring day in Wisconsin and I’m driving my convertible for the first time this year...yup, I’m feeling a little sassy and it felt like a good day to blog about SaaS!

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