Why SaaS Adoption Means
Having To Fumigate The Marketing Organization

Arturo F Munoz Open QuoteWhat is not yours always chirps for its master. -- Spanish Proverb

SaaS AdoptionMore than ever before, for sizeable marketing organizations, the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model has become the solution to a fragmented operation.

SaaS ostensibly delivers a singular platform for marketing automation that centralizes tracking and management of customer data from various integrated touch points. Nevertheless, this unification is infrastructural and not cultural – a key detail to keep in mind always. More on that later.

For now keep in mind the primary value that hosted solution providers deliver.

Providers propose that short-term marketing budgets be diverted away from long-term investments in internal IT systems development or support, traditionally dedicated to the purchase and maintenance of in-house hardware and software system assets, and instead toward a technology lease commitment.

Like paying for cable TV, hosted application vendors charge a monthly technology usage rate instead of expensive licenses and annual maintenance and upgrade fees to own the dish or the wireline technology on which that service runs.

As a result, marketers can gain the benefits of technology without the added cost of technology ownership.

SaaS Under The Hood May Give You Reason To Pause

In spite of these quick gains, know that process centralization under SaaS is neither a panacea nor easy to do. I’ve launched several hosted solutions and, invariably, process integration to critical non-SaaS systems and long-term organizational conformance to a SaaS operations model have proven both difficult and expensive to achieve. Not impossible! Just hard and pricey.

Hosted solutions can also be costly to keep up even after getting a return on the original subscription investment, because this work model rigorously dictates to marketers -- a very laissez-faire bunch -- how they're to operate through it and not the reverse. This usually leads to expensive resistance to change issues that threaten the continued adoption of the hosted solution.

Because the name of the game in SaaS for now is “Have the marketer conform to the best practice that our service solution represents at this moment” with a limited ability for the marketer to transform the business process that the SaaS embedded into the technology, it is here that user adoption of the Software-as-a-Service work model becomes crucial to every hosted solution deployment.

This means that user resistance to change becomes the battle that upper management cannot lose, if the hosted application investment is to prove worthwhile over the long haul. Resistance to change is the most underestimated obstacle on the path to new process and technology deployments. Yet it's something to prepare for.

Forcing users to relinquish old processes to conform their behaviors to a new way of doing their work is a monumental task. The effort extends beyond employee training. It goes deep and reaches to the roots of the company’s culture, i.e. to what it venerates. Venerates? Yes, indeed!

If You’re A SaaS Convert, You Better Know What You Worship!

The word culture comes from the Latin cultus for worship or veneration. If you remove from a social group, be it a team, a town, a nation, whatever it venerates, then you’re going to have to deal with some significant resistance to this change. And this is what happens when a new infrastructure replaces an old one that might have been doing OK but not great. You're changing the culture.

A cultural change shifts the ground beneath people's feet. It knocks down old, revered shrines. Not foreseeing this is why many marketing automation projects fail.

The end-users either don’t use the new service, because it compels them to change how they used to work, which impacts their perceptions of productivity, or they see little intrinsic value in having to use the application as delivered. So they use it less than is optimal.

Ready To Change A Culture? Bring In A Fumigator

Culture doesn’t change at the flick of a finger. The user community must come to venerate the new process and that takes both time and radical action. That means literally removing some problems by the roots!

How to accomplish that? You do it, as Aesop would have said, by first ridding your organization of all scorpions.

OK, may be Aesop wouldn’t have said it so, but management consultant Lawrence Haughton explains it well in the following video clip.

Fumigate your marketing organization of all scorpions first, before bringing in a new infrastructure or a before replacing a fundamental operations process that a group of people there "venerates". (This includes requiring them to discard old habits, which do die hard). And you will have an easier time adopting a SaaS tool set for your operation.

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