Is SaaS The End Of IT?

That depends on what your definition of "is" is, to paraphrase a famous presidential equivocation -- and your definition of IT.

John Soat, Contributor

October 22, 2007

2 Min Read

That depends on what your definition of "is" is, to paraphrase a famous presidential equivocation -- and your definition of IT."Some people think, if I do that I won't have a job," says Richard Dellinger. "It's rare, but we have seen it once in a while." The "that" is is use an online application, and the "some people" are CIOs.

Dellinger is co-founder and VP of development for a company called Adaptive Planning, which offers an online application -- also known as software as a service (SaaS) -- that does budgeting, forecasting, and reporting. Dellinger says he sells the software service mostly to CFOs, controllers, VPs of finance, or VPs of planning, and that his firm is "approaching 200 customers," everything from VC-backed startups to very large organizations, with familiar names such as the American Automobile Association (AAA), Purolator, and the Red Cross on the list, according to the company's Web site.

Dellinger is a true believer in software as a service. "Everybody has realized you can give so much better customer service" with an online application, he says.

Still, Dellinger says he was worried when he helped found the company that CIOs would be wary of using software that existed outside the organization, worried about the security and back-up implications, but that hasn't turned out to be the case. "From forward-thinking IT people we get pats on the back, hurrahs," he says. "It's one less application they're responsible for."

Dellinger knows a thing or two about disruptive technology. He was one of the original programmers on VisiCalc, the first PC spreadsheet program, which ushered in the era of end-user empowerment.

The same type of technology disruption might happen with SaaS, some observers feel. But that doesn't mean IT will disappear, Dellinger maintains. "It's ludicrous to think IT people will go away," he says. "You're never going to replace them." Dellinger allows that organizations always will need IT to "focus on legacy stuff, like general ledger, databases, networks ... "

So, is SaaS the end of IT? Not as long as your definition of IT includes words like legacy, maintenance, and back room.

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