Lawson’s CEO Harry Debes certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind or express his feelings. But Harry’s latest remarks deriding Software as a Service (SaaS) might just put him in the doghouse:
“My prediction is that it’ll go the same way as the other two have gone–nowhere.”
“People are stupid. History has shown it repeats itself, and people make the same mistakes.”
Software comes in a variety of flavors, with SaaS being just one of the seven ways in which software can be delivered (see http://www.cioinsight.com/c/a/Expert-Voices/Embracing-The-Software-Service-Economy/). I think SaaS makes sense for a lot of applications, particularly for small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients, which just happen to be Lawson’s target market. For instance, I use Mozy for my backups, Constant Contact for my newsletter, hosted Exchange for my email, etc. I know a lot of Lawson clients who extend their ERP footprint by using SaaS applications, such as ADP for Payroll, Virtual Edge for Recruiting, and Concur for Expenses. Hey, even Lawson uses Concur.
As your application portfolio grows and requires more integration, SaaS obviously becomes less attractive. But still, there are certain applications–for instance HR, Payroll and recruiting–where SaaS still does make sense. It takes some of the burden off of your internal IT staff and gets you off of the constant maintenance and upgrade treadmill. SaaS also allows you to keep your focus on your core business, rather than on maintaining software. And Saas provides you a predictable software payment stream.
Harry’s argument about the eventual payoff/depreciation of software just doesn’t hold water. There’s never a point where packaged software–as opposed to SaaS–really becomes “free”. I think Harry “forgot” about those pesky yearly maintenance fees!
Regardless, though, making the choice to adopt a SaaS approach–right or wrong–still doesn’t make you “stupid”.
By now, you probably now that Lawson’s new Landmark-based HR application (“Strategic Human Capital Management”) started as a SaaS project. And despite Harry’s attempt to distance Lawson from SaaS, a Lawson presentation at a recent user group meeting conflictingly still touts its SaaS roots as a benefit. As does Lawson’s home page.
So Harry might think SaaS is a fad (SalesForce.com replacing Freddie Mac on the S&P 500 is certainly evidence to the contrary). But “people are stupid”?!?! Not exactly a polite thing to say about one’s customers. Perhaps Harry should pick up a copy of The Mouth Trap?