Why are water utilities moving online?
More and more water utilities are starting to take advantage of online software applications, also known as Software as a Service (SaaS). Over the last few years, specialized online applications have transformed how utilities maintain compliance and manage their network.
So how do these online applications work?
SaaS providers build and host their platforms on the internet and sell subscriptions to customers. This system means that SaaS solutions are centrally hosted by the provider, who is responsible for all of the updates, maintenance, and security.
Online SaaS solutions are being adopted across almost every industry, from government, finance, and retail to utilities. Innovative water utilities are utilizing SaaS solutions to simplify their programs by transforming how they collect, manage, and analyze data. SaaS solutions are providing utilities with a way to improve compliance while reducing costs and developing new efficiencies.
Here are some stats
- 82% of companies reported saving money when they adopted the cloud
- 50% of US government organizations are now using online solutions
- For 2020, the number of mobile users worldwide is forecast to grow to 7.26 billion.
Adopting SaaS is part of the ongoing digital transformation taking place across the water industry. As regulations become increasingly complex and deadlines tighten, program managers are frequently being asked to do more with less. Specialized online applications are helping managers adapt to these new requirements.
Perhaps the main advantage offered by SaaS is the reduction in costs. Typically you will only have to pay an annual subscription to use the provider’s services. While on-premise solutions require long term investment in maintenance, upgrades, and license fees, these services come as part of your SaaS subscription.
With SaaS, your data is only a click away, saving you time and money when launching a new program or optimizing your current one. Implementation time and costs are also dramatically reduced as SaaS solutions can be implemented in a matter of weeks.
SaaS can include extra charges based on specific functionality requirements or the need for additional managed services. However, the subscription model means you can review your conditions over time and only pay for the features you want.
The same goes for your data requirements meaning that you only pay for the storage you need and can scale as your online customer engagement grows. In both the short and long term, the SaaS solutions have been found to reduce costs and achieve higher returns.
Implementation and maintenance
Deploying a SaaS solution should be a quick and straightforward process if you have chosen the right provider.
When providers host their solution online, they allow organizations to plug their program into the server, which you can then access through an internet browser.
Your provider is responsible for maintaining the Software and ensuring that it is optimized. This system allows providers to carry out automatic software upgrades over time, which significantly reduces testing and training time. By improving the system incrementally, you remove the need to carry out costly updates every few years.
Providers who can customize their system to your specific requirements will also significantly reduce the need for additional software or hardware. So SaaS has the dual effect of freeing up your IT department and mitigating risk.
Customization and scalability
SaaS applications are designed to support customization. Typically these systems can be seamlessly scaled to meet your changing requirements.
Like implementation, scaling, and customization of the application is the sole responsibility of your provider. So all of the time that you devote to your current IT solutions can be directed toward more strategic initiatives like program optimization or customer engagement. You can view a sample implementation strategy which we use at SwiftComply here.
Your provider can quickly allocate more storage or deploy a new feature without affecting your system’s performance. SaaS solutions can even be scaled down to optimize resource allocation and reduce wastage. This freedom and flexibility to respond to your changing environment are invaluable when it comes to increasing your operational efficiency.
Many organizations have even begun to use SaaS solutions in conjunction with existing IT infrastructure to enhance their capabilities. So SaaS doesn’t have to be an all or nothing choice. You can integrate the system incrementally or address specific requirements.
The perception among some IT professionals is that SaaS or online solutions are less secure than there on-premise counterparts. However, SaaS providers spend enormous amounts of money on the latest security technology to ensure that they can provide customers with a safe environment. Most providers also adhere to strict ISO regulations that govern online security.
The nature of SaaS makes it much easier to monitor and analyze your program data. So SaaS inherently safeguards the reliability of your data while allowing you to detect anomalies in the system in real-time.
Because your provider takes care of all the maintenance, even when issues occur, your IT department will not be required to sideline other tasks. Part of your provider’s core competencies also involves enforcing regulatory requirements. This is a much simpler process for providers than it would be for your IT team working with an on-premise solution.
Organizations across all industries, from retail and finance to governmental, have quickly realized working together online is the most efficient way to get work done.
Being able to update and view data in real-time is invaluable when you are working with colleagues in the field. While you can collaborate offline, it will never be as easy or efficient.
SaaS solutions also allow you to collaborate with your end users by providing a system that is easy to use and keeps them engaged. You can engage stakeholders in a whole new way by providing a personalized experience where and when they want.
Higher Adoption Rates
Because the Software is accessible via familiar web browsers, SaaS apps tend to have lower learning curves and higher adoption rates. This is especially significant given the high cost of on-premises software development and implementation, vs. the low cost of entry for online solutions.
Another great reason to start using SaaS is that your provider takes care of all of the technical requirements, from configuration and implementation to ongoing infrastructure and application updates. At SwiftComply, we don’t just stop there. When a new customer signs up, they are assigned a customer success manager who is responsible for helping them get the most out of their investment.