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6/30/2008
06:07 PM
Paige Finkelman
Paige Finkelman
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The Cloud's Next Hurdles

There are some very cool apps that live in the cloud, but the ones that impact enterprise work flow are the ones with serious prospects of longevity and financial gain. It's not enough, however, to create singular and separate business applications that are delivered via the cloud. On top of functionality and a high quality user experience, enterprises want integration and customer service.At Om Malik's Structure 08 event, Zach Nelson from NetSuite touched on this very issue.There are certain core business processes that integrated software solutions solve nicely. Depending on your business need, product or the industry vertical one falls within, these may differ slightly from company to company. One thing is certain - with an influx of cloud-based computing, the business world has options. One only has to look at the Enterprise 2.0 2008 Demo Pavilion vendors to get an idea of what the market has to offer. The new platform has its advantages, but seamless integration between applications is the next step to conquer.The more applications that run on a platform, the more attractive that platform becomes to the potential buyer. When the platform is the Web, more isn't necessarily better if you're seeking to streamline your organization and its productivity.Vendors who offer cloud-based solutions are not selling software - they're selling a service. And with that service, customers expect a certain level of attention and accessibility. As the web becomes social, customer service has transformed into marketing. SaaS companies must now provide excellent service or 'customer success' for their clients. Coupled with integration, customer service is a crucial part of the service business model.It will be interesting to watch to see which vendors will emerge as the major contenders in this space. The SaaS business model is very different to the model employed by independent software vendors and large software companies. As the market evolves and adoption increases, the cloud tools that emerge as front runners will embrace integration and customer service, as their success depends on it.

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