This is a hypothetical test – or a thought experiment as physicists might call it – I came up with, when HR SaaS started to become popular – indeed popular enough to make it a taboo to speak out against it as a consultancy / systems integrator. It is probably as relevant in other parts of the cloud market, but they follow different time-lines and anyway: I want to stick to my guns. It’s a fun piece, but I daresay it also does have a core of truth worth remembering.
At the time in, say, 2010, it was quite obvious that most large players except for the vendors hated HR SaaS. Their business models were based on getting a small(ish) group of consultants in followed by an army of technical people from system architects to technical analysts to programmers and testers. A new breed of systems that would embrace standardisation, quick deployment, easy upgrades and – yes – leave little room for change requests must have given their CFOs sleepless nights. Yet, SaaS / cloud was acknowledged to be the future already at the time and as a large technology service firm you couldn’t be seen not embracing the future. And for better or worse, if the change didn’t go away they would at least have to maximise their share of the smaller cake (or cake growing at a slower than anticipated pace).
So, this is where the red button test comes in – I asked (first myself and then others):
Imagine the bosses of the 5 biggest IT consultancies / System integrators of the world sitting around a table. In the centre of the table: a large red button. A fairy appears on the table pointing to the button: “If you press this button really, really hard, HR SaaS will go away never to come back again and organisations will use on-premise HR systems until the end of time. And nobody will ever know, what happened at this table.”.
What would happen?
Back in 2010 I was convinced (in agreement with most people I talked to) that it would result in 4 badly broken hands as each of the 5 would hit that button as fast and forcefully as possible. Translated into plain English, this means the biggest players in the industry, when providing services for SaaS deployment, where doing something they hated. This resonated with many customers’ experience regarding system integrators’ approach to SaaS. And this was by no means the case with large players only. Many small and medium players where in exactly the same position – although some of them where taking on the SaaS niche happily and others decided to stick to on-premise, their bosses hoping it would take them through to retirement.
So, what do you think would happen today around that secret, hidden table?
I have to admit I’m in two minds about it. Some large players seem to be embracing the opportunities for new types of services coming out of SaaS, some managed to apply SaaS deployment models burning almost as many resources as old on-prem models. Do they still hate it and wish it away?
Please continue the story of the 5 IT services bosses in that secret room in the comment section…
<to be taken with a pinch of salt>