Alumni relations and SaaS
In the tech world, SaaS (Software as a Service) has been around since the late 90's but it wasn't until recently that the educational and non-profit industry started to see SaaS and cloud technology take over on-premise software. And like everything else, change can be difficult but necessary. We wanted to break it down for you and give you a glimpse into why we love SaaS services, and why we built Almabase as a SaaS platform.
What in the world is SaaS and why is it hotter than ever right now?
Though the term 'SaaS' may seem unfamiliar, you have most likely been using SaaS services for a while now. Take photo storage for example. Not so long ago, If you had precious photographs you wanted to save, you would have most likely had them on a storage disk like your computer's hard disk, a flash drive or an external hard disk. It worked fine and most people were happy with it. But the inconveniences of physical storage disks became crystal clear when a better solution was introduced, Cloud storage.
Cloud storage made things incredibly effortless and convenient. It invariably meant that :
1. There was no need to plug in a cable and transfer photos to your computer
2. You did not have to worry about losing your photos if you dropped your hard drive or your computer
3. You did not need to carry around your hard drive to access your photos
4. It was a whole lot easier to access your photos anywhere and at any time, from any device.
And it's not just photo storage . SaaS is taking over everything and it's all around us. Netflix has eliminated the need for you to walk to the Video rental store around the corner, and Spotify has opened up a huge music library for you to listen to instead of a few songs you purchased on iTunes.
SaaS works for large enterprises too
SaaS adoption has been rising every year and with the sort of reliability it is known for, even large companies rely on SaaS companies to run core functions of their business.
For a messaging platform that has over a Billion users, one would think WhatsApp does all its messaging in-house. But it is note quite true. For Whatsapp to stay focussed on what matters to them, and to maintain a lean team size, WhatsApp uses a service called Twilio to handle all SMS text messages that need to be sent. Interestingly, when Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook for $19 Billion in 2014, they were only a 55 member team.
SaaS vs In-house solutions
Given the reliability, convenience and effectiveness that SaaS solutions have proven over the last decade it's hardly a comparison any longer. But let us go through some of the large differentiators on why SaaS is so beloved.
By cost, we mean everything. We have to take into account the cost of capital, infrastructure, development and human resources. Not to mention the time and resources required for ongoing maintenance and upgrades. Compare all that to a simple flat monthly or yearly pricing that takes care of everything and it's not hard to see why SaaS is, in fact, a lot cheaper.
Getting up and running in no time means you don't need to spend months on planning, developing and testing your platform. Which inevitably lets you reach out to, and engage your alumni a whole lot quicker.
There is a lot that goes into developing a platform like user-experience and compatibility with different browsers/devices. Almabase has been designed based on extensive user research and A/B testing to ensure that your alumni have the best experience possible.
Technology is rapidly changing and keeping up with changes takes conscious effort. In most cases, in-house solutions are built using a shared IT or engineering resource within the institute. If your development team has to focus on a dozen other things every day, there is going to be very little room for innovation on your alumni platform.
The product and engineering teams at Almabase are solely focussed on how you can Connect, Engage and Involve your alumni better. Keeping up with technology is in our job description.
Don't build just because you can
Your institute may have everything you need to pull off a major development project. Money, time and human capital may not be a huge concern for you. But historically, given the changing team members and focus, in-house systems grow outdated and unattended to. Alumni engagement takes a huge blow and eventually leads to lost relationships.
Similar to the earlier instance of Whatsapp offloading functions to Twilio, Apple Inc. recently signed a deal with Google cloud services to host Apple's iCloud services. When apple decides not to build something in-house, it is by no means because of lack of resources or expertise. Even the tech giant decided not to focus on building their own cloud server because they are not in the business of building cloud servers, they are in the business of making great consumer electronic devices that their user's love.
Alumni relations and SaaS
Your mission as an alumni relations team could be to develop the best possible alumni programs to foster great engagement and build some strong relationships with your alumni. And our mission at Almabase is to empower you to do just that without all the other hassles.
Change can be difficult. What are some of your concerns with moving your database to the cloud? Let us know in the comments below.