The Next Wave of Cross-Media Communications: SaaS Enablers Everywhere!

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Sep 28, 2010

Recent trade shows illuminated an emerging theme around software and services targeted at the new cross-media opportunity. The cloud is in, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are popping up everywhere. Why? The recent economic downturn–coupled with the fast-paced, capital-intense nature of technology adoption–has created huge demand for low-cost and easy-to-use IT solutions.

In 1965, Intel Co-Founder Gordon Moore established Moore’s law, which states that data density doubles every 18 months. We can extend Moore’s theory across many information technologies. For example, mass storage technology and bandwidth are just a couple of other technologies that are rapidly coming down in cost and exponentially increasing in capacity. Technology is moving at an incredibly rapid pace, and it is now difficult to stay on the leading edge when acquiring new hardware and software solutions. Furthermore, incorporating new technologies into your infrastructure and successfully monetizing the benefits of the acquisition and implementation cost in a timeframe that will yield an acceptable return has become difficult (if not impossible) for some companies.

Companies of all sizes are turning to SaaS solutions to minimize capital expenses and lower the complexity of their IT infrastructures. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) represent one of the fastest-growing business segments. A recent study from InfoTrends that surveyed 2,243 SMBs revealed a tremendous growth opportunity for marketing service providers who plan to adopt the SaaS model and offer services like Web design, graphic design, list acquisition, and data analytics.

SMB svcs

Figure: Which of the following services has your company purchased from an external provider in the past 12 months?

The U.S. government is also taking advantage of cloud computing with an IT Budget of $78.4 billion for FY2010. $20 billion of this will be devoted to infrastructure consolidation, mostly cloud-based SaaS solutions (Source: Analytical Perspectives — U.S. Office of Budget and Management).

Why is there so much hype surrounding SaaS, and is there a real solution? Hosted software has matured from the quirky solutions that we saw a few years ago to a stable platform for real software solutions. The performance is there with expanded bandwidth available from all broadband providers. What’s more, storage costs have plummeted and the “user experience” has improved. All of these factors have spotlighted the SaaS model as a winning way to deploy software solutions and services. Furthermore, the SaaS model has a lower cost of entry, requires minimal IT skills, and features a pay-as-you-go business model. As a result, SaaS has become increasingly popular among service providers and marketers.

The marketing and graphic communications sector is leveraging the SaaS platform for many new applications. Hot topics in this space include data management portals, data analytics dashboards, content management systems, cross-media composition solutions, and production management/MIS systems including online order processing and proofing solutions.

GMC has expanded on its composition solutions with a new data analytics start-up business called GMC Analytics. The company is working with early adopters to test a new analytics dashboard that provides a graphical view of segmentation data and allows “what if” analysis of this data so that campaigns can be more targeted. The GMC Analytics solutions naturally feed directly into the GMC composition engine as well as the digital media channel.

Pitney Bowes’ Business Insight Division is demonstrating the results of the MapInfo acquisition with MapInfo Professional, a powerful Microsoft Windows-based mapping and geographic analysis application from the experts in location intelligence. Designed to easily visualize the relationships between data and geography, MapInfo Professional helps business analysts, planners, GIS professionals, and even non-GIS users gain new insights into their markets, share information-rich maps and graphs, and improve strategic decision-making. Of course, the MapInfo Professional SaaS solution feeds directly into the company’s DOC1 and EnageOne document composition solutions. Pitney Bowes’ solutions can easily create and centrally control all customer communications (transactional, on demand, interactive documents) and deliver them in virtually any media (print, fax, Web, e-mail, SMS).

Connecting the production operation to knowledge workers on the go is another hot application for SaaS. EFI, Heidelberg, Prism, Technique, and probably others have newly developed iPhone applications that enable plant managers to get a remote and instant update of production and device status, incoming orders, and other valuable management information.

In the words of 60s philosopher Bob Dylan, “Times they are a-Changin’.” The entire communications ecosystem is in a fast-moving state of change. New applications, solutions, and market opportunities surround this sea of change. It is extremely important to stay close to key enabling technologies while also monitoring the pulses of consumers and knowledge workers.

For more information on cross-media communications, InfoTrends recommends the following:

  • Join others interested in cross-media direct marketing communications at the Graph Expo 2010 event in Chicago (October 3-6, 2010). For more information, visit http://www.graphexpo.com.
  • While at Graph Expo, join InfoTrends for our InfoBriefing Breakfast on Monday, October 4th at 7:30am, where we’re cover the latest trends in Cross-Media Marketing, making print interactive, and high-volume digital color printing.
  • Check out InfoTrends’ Cross-Media Multi-Client Report (scheduled to be published in October 2010).

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