Every software advance breeds challenges and opportunities.
Consider the challenges created by the advance known as SaaS — Software as a Service.
SaaS solves a lot of serious prior problems. When your company subscribes to a SaaS solution, you no longer need your own expensive host computers, you no longer need to manage upgrades from the vendor… a host of problems just vanish.
And new ones arise. The problem with SaaS is a lack of (and a need for) integration.
Consider the case of a company — Acme Widgets — that’s trying to launch a wellness program — encouraging employees to stop smoking, to walk more, etc. These programs have mixed track records — in part because of SaaS integration issues.
Suppose Acme switched healthcare providers at the end of last year, and the new provider switched wellness partners mid-summer. In a seven-month period workers will have had three different (SaaS delivered) wellness programs — each with its own rules, tracking system, rewards, points, perks, logins, passwords, etc. By the third one, many of the early enthusiasts will have lost interest.
And that’s assuming there were no integration problems between the healthcare provider’s software and either wellness partner.
As companies move more and more to SaaS options, the need for integration grows geometrically.
Filling the Need for Integration
Filling this need are a new breed of systems integrators — call them SaaS integrators — who know how to make the employee or user experience seamless.
One such is Adherial (I have a friend on their board), a Portland area firm specializing in integrating corporate wellness services with healthcare platforms.
With a service like Adherial, the company administrator uses a single console to administer all healthcare enrollments, wellness programs and incentives, points systems, messaging, and employee logins. (Other providers of similar services include Wellvibe, LiivMD, Cerner Wellness, Kersh Health, Castlight, Redbrick, and MediKeeper — clearly an active and innovative startup segment.)
The software and SaaS worlds are undergoing an evolution similar to that of the hardware world a few decades ago, when an explosion of innovation created a huge demand for systems integrators, who were ultimately made obsolete by increasing use of standards.
But with no relevant standards gaining ground, customers will need a solution like Adherial (or a benefits broker or consultant who white-labels such a solution) before the promise of their individual SaaS solutions can be made real.
What SaaS Service Integration Means for You
Strategic insight for CEOs and leaders: like SaaS, your industry may be going through an evolution that parallels one previously experienced by another industry. If that’s so, your success will depend on catching the rising wave and fitting your strategy to the larger trend — and on executing the basics, every day.