Clients tell us they are turning to SaaS not so much for cost savings but primarily for greater business results: greater business agility and improved collaboration inside and outside the enterprise. But, what can SaaS applications provide that traditional, single tenant applications cannot?
At last week’s Workday Technology Summit, we heard firsthand from some major brands about the unique benefits they are achieving from using a SaaS solution:
1. Continuous innovation. Workday customers talked about two components to this benefit: 1) seamless, frequent, automatic upgrades and 2) ability to deploy changes quickly into your live environment.  
2. Faster time to value. One customer shared that in their vendor selection process, they gave a business scenario the day of the vendor demos. This customer found that only the “real SaaS” solutions could build the demo based on the specs with only a few hours to prepare.
3. Ability to share and inject features from any of the SaaS vendor’s customer. One Workday customer in the financial services sector shared how one of the biggest benefits to the Workday model is that he can reach out to the full Workday customer base to find another customer who has already solved his challenge. He can then inject the code snippets those other customers have already created. This is only possible because all customers are on the current version at all times – and because customization of the underlying code is restricted.
4. Greater potential to benchmark or gain insights from peers. One benefit of a SaaS model is that all data is available in a central location. While there are numerous privacy issues that arise from this, Workday lets customers “opt in” to data sharing, letting them get access to analysis and benchmarks in exchange for being willing to (anonymously) share some of their own data.
5. An open innovation community to drive the product roadmap. Because all of a SaaS vendor’s customers run the same version at all times, it is easier to crowdsource ideas for improvement. Workday’s “Brainstorm” lets its customers propose and vote on ideas. In some of Workday’s recent releases, more than one-quarter of features came from the crowdsourced customer “Brainstorm.” 
What do you think? Do you see SaaS offering unique benefits? We are working on new research about the business benefits that SaaS can enable (due out later this year) and criteria to consider to ensure your SaaS vendor can deliver these business benefits. We invite you to join the conversation!