The economy is poised at an inflection point, and businesses large and small are watching closely. They want to keep a tight rein on spending, but they also hope to make the right investments to drive growth.
Leading indicators have been confusing. Inflation has eased somewhat – suggesting the economy is no longer in danger of overheating – yet the Federal Reserve still expects to hike interest rates. Wages have inched higher – suggesting continued demand for talent – yet several major brands have announced staff reductions.
Experts are calling it the “yes, but” economy: The business landscape appears to be resilient, but companies remain worried. In that climate, your enterprise needs a strategy for simultaneously decreasing costs, increasing productivity, and staying nimble to respond to unexpected developments.
One effective approach is to invest in software-as-a-service (SaaS) productivity tools. Why SaaS? Because cloud-based solutions deliver the benefits trifecta of lower upfront costs, predictable pay-as-you-go pricing, and the flexibility to scale up and down as your needs change. What’s more, today’s SaaS productivity tools can help your business in three areas: personal productivity, team productivity, and workflow automation and optimization.
SaaS for Personal Productivity
Virtually every business requires general-purpose applications that enable employees to get their jobs done. In the past these tools were purchased off the shelf, deployed on individual desktops, and manually updated on a rolling basis. Today personal productivity is enabled through the cloud, with product features and security patches kept continuously up to date.
The granddaddy of these SaaS suites is Microsoft 365, which combines Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Depending on your plan, you can add cloud-based storage, communication, and collaboration services such as OneDrive, Yammer, and Teams. Its market share is open to debate, but it’s safe to say 365 dominates. In part that’s because of user familiarity, in part because no other offering matches the suite’s breadth and depth of features.
Microsoft 365’s biggest competitor is Google Workspace, which includes Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Gmail, plus Drive, Chat, and Calendar. Workspace is more affordable than 365, and more interoperable in that it lets you edit files in both Workspace and 365. But its feature set is less robust, and it doesn’t include options such as enterprise-level cybersecurity services.
But 365 and Workspace aren’t the only personal-productivity SaaS suites in town. Enterprise-class, cloud-based versions of open-source suites such as LibreOffice and WPS Office provide word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and other applications.
SaaS for Team Productivity
Productivity is about more than just individual empowerment, however, and that has businesses investing in team productivity tools. Especially in an era of hybrid work – where some team members are at company headquarters, others are at remote offices, and many are still working from home – collaboration tools have become essential.
Team productivity is a fast-changing category, though, and not every solution stands up to apples-to-apples comparison. Some collaboration tools, like Slack and Rocket. Chat, are primarily intended for real-time messaging, though many offer related features such as screen sharing and conferencing. Others, like Zoom and Cisco Webex, are focused on videoconferencing, with features to support meetings, messaging, and webinars.
Businesses increasingly drive team productivity through cloud-based project management platforms such as Wrike, ClickUp, and Monday.com. These tools provide dashboards for project visibility and organization, Gantt charts for project scheduling, project-specific views of conversations and files, review and approval workflows, and support for mobile access. They also offer features specific to functions such as marketing, design, and engineering.
Consider carefully whether your company needs only real-time messaging or videoconferencing, or the more team-specific features of a project management platform. Work with your IT department to identify the best tools for your various functions and user categories. You might limit choices to avoid redundant spending as well as confusion about which tools teams should use for which purposes.
Cloud-based No-code Application Development
But personal and team productivity solutions aren’t the only way organizations can leverage SaaS to lower costs, raise productivity, and remain nimble. Forward-thinking companies increasingly look to no-code app builders to empower teams, optimize efficiencies, and serve customers better. In fact, uptake of no-code tools and other low-code application platforms (LCAPs) will increase 25% in 2023 and another 24% in 2024, Gartner predicts.
A no-code application development solution empowers nontechnical users to create their own webforms, applications, and workflows. Any line-of-business (LoB) employee can use a no-code tool to build a digitized process – mapping the flow, designing the user interface, enabling data inputs, and generating data outputs. Users simply drag and drop components from a library of prebuilt functionality and assemble those features on a digital canvas to create a sophisticated app or an end-to-end workflow. Data security is built-in, as are integrations with popular technology platforms.
No-code empowers your employees to automate and continuously improve the tasks they carry out every day. It can also significantly reduce the time and expense of relying on a professional development team to design, code, test, and implement software. By placing the power to improve workflows in the hands of the people who understand them best, no-code enables all team members to contribute to your organization’s success.
Whether the economy continues to send mixed signals or takes off again in 2023 and beyond, you want your organization to maximize efficiencies and compete more effectively. SaaS personal and team productivity tools, along with an effective cloud-based no-code application development platform, can position your business to achieve those goals and more.