Misha Logvinov is Lithium's CIO, responsible for the strategic direction and management of Lithium’s global Information Technology infrastructure, including enabling world-class customer support.
You can follow him on Twitter as @mishalogvinov and on the Lithosphere he is MishaL
I have to give our customers a lot of credit. They are asking the right questions about SaaS when choosing Lithium as a business partner. After running the engine room at several SaaS-centric businesses for over ten years, I’ve witnessed a gradual shift in customer awareness; moving from mystery to fear to uncertainty to cautious acceptance and most recently to educated embrace.
I no longer have to explain why SaaS is so much better than the on-premise software model. It has become a no-brainer to even the more conservative of industries.
Today, we talk about trust. Putting myself in my customers’ proverbial shoes, I’d ask… Why should I trust this company with enabling my business success? What makes it credible? Whenever we meet someone new, we are naturally cautious. And, for good reason. We should be cautious, and people should request proof that we can support their intentions and capabilities before they can earn our trust.
In recent years, many volumes have been written about how to evaluate SaaS providers. Understanding all the recommended criteria and creating a comprehensive assessment process can be a daunting task. In an attempt to distill this to core fundamentals, I’d like to share with you the questions that I’d ask service providers in order to evaluate them. These are also the considerations that we constantly challenge ourselves with at Lithium:
Is SaaS in your DNA or is it a means to an end? How truly committed are you to making your SaaS platform world-class?
Your customers are everywhere but are you everywhere with them? Do you have global hosting and content delivery presence that ensures top-notch performance, availability and resiliency to problems, no matter where your users are in the world?
How are you protecting your customers’ information? Is data security an after-thought or a core function embedded into the organizational thread? Is it independently validated and certified by leading governing bodies? Many SaaS providers point to their ISO and SAS certified datacenter vendors in an attempt to show that they are secure while neglecting to scrutinize their own internal processes. This simply isn’t enough.
How quickly can I take advantage of your new features and bug fixes? What’s your software upgrade and patching process like? Is it effortless for your customers?
Most of us like to know what’s going on with our strategic service providers. After all, transparency enables trust. Do you proactively talk to your customers not only about your achievements but also about your plans and challenges?
I encourage you to think about these principles while you contemplate your next foray into the world of cloud services.
Not only will they guide you towards better decisions when selecting your service providers, they will help push the entire industry forward!
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