This is part five of a ten-part series leading up to the inaugural Australian release of the Digital IQ report.

We live in an age of convenience. The growth of mobile technology has allowed consumers to demand instant access, and anything less will result in being shunned.

As this phenomenon has grown, technology as a service has become the trend by which software is judged. Instead of buying pre-packaged pieces of software with yearly subscriptions for the number of employees you have which may receive sporadic updates, enterprises are now offered a suite of options, with shorter subscription intervals per ‘seat’ used, which can be accessed online on-demand.  Commonly know as software as a service (SaaS).

This has resulted in two major changes.

The first is that the market is now offering a wider array of options than ever before. Few pieces of software attempt to be all-in-one solutions, and instead, focus in specialty areas, such as enterprise networking, or staff collaboration that integrate seamlessly to other solutions. More providers focus solely on improving these efforts.

The second has seen a change in the role of the Chief Information Officer. The enterprise is now less concerned with keeping on top of technological updates, but instead finding and adopting the best solutions necessary for that particular moment in time. This role has moved from a supervisory purpose to that of a consultant – constantly finding and adapting technology solutions for the enterprise.

The result is a much deeper enterprise in terms of knowledge and experience,  and a much leaner and proactive organisation able to respond to shifts in the market with relative ease.

The rise of the self-service economy

The rise of the self-service economy has continued to thrive. According to a Gartner study 77% of Australian enterprises in 2013 said they would continue to invest money in software as a service.

This growth makes sense. As technology has improved, large enterprises have grown less wary about entering in the SaaS space, and are able to identify and solve the various technological challenges contained therein.

This gives rise to the possibility for staff to create customised solutions for their various enterprise problems. This creates a system where the relationship between what the business needs, and the product offering becomes more closely entwined. With a self-service software economy, there is no excuse for not having the exact solution the enterprise needs – especially when so many are free or open source, able to be customised to the needs of the business at hand.

The risks

Of course, this trend carries risk as well as opportunity.

While the growth of SaaS means more businesses are more aligned to their software needs, the number of SaaS products in the cloud poses new questions for organisations with regard to data storage and consumption.

Digital enterprises need to examine not only which of their data is being stored, but where – especially considering different countries and storage businesses operate under a wide variation of legislation. Consequences for breaches in some countries, such as a mandatory notification to the customer, can differ.

This places a significant amount of pressure on the enterprise to protect data and to constantly be up to date on various regulatory and legislative changes for areas in which their data is stored. This ongoing risk must be managed carefully.

These challenges or risks pale in comparison to the benefits of SaaS on small and large digital enterprises. Under the guidance of a Chief Information Officer with insight into current trends and products, the modern digital enterprise aligns business need with technology choice and is engaging the tools it absolutely requires for a sustainable reduced price.

The possibilities allowed by technology in business are numerous, and no more so than with on-demand business software. This flexibility provides enterprises with the ability to quickly adapt to any situation as they scale. Ultimately, the businesses plugged in to the capabilities of on-demand software will be able to outpace and outlast the competition.

Stay tuned for the sixth entry in our Digital IQ series, which will delve into the emerging “internet of things” ecosystem.  

Part 1: The new age of analytics
Part 2: Social enterprise and keeping everyone connected
Part 3: The future of ecommerce is the mobile revolution
Part 4: The new age of cyber security



Nick Spooner

Nick Spooner is a partner at PwC and the leader of PwC Digital Services Experience Centre across South East Asia and Australia.

More About Nick Spooner