Until recently, when utility teams were faced with a problem, they were often limited to one of two remedies: (1) building their own solutions internally, or (2) outsourcing the problem to a 3rd party consulting group. Long development cycles, extended integration times, and high costs can discourage utilities from finding and implementing new solutions. However, with the introduction of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technologies, utilities now have the ability to try out-of-the-box solutions ranging from customer service management to accounting products to machine learning analytics.

What is Software-as-a-Service?
Software-as-a-Service, abbreviated as SaaS, is software that is owned and maintained remotely by a provider and ‘leased’ to a user on an either pay-per-use or subscription basis. The product is hosted on a central server, and users can access it using a think client like a web browser.

What are the benefits of using SaaS solutions?
There are many benefits of using SaaS solutions, including shorter implementation times, lower costs, and automatic updates. We’ll discuss five major benefits of using SaaS solutions below:

  1. SasS solutions are quick to implement
    Most SaaS products are ‘plug-and-play’ solutions, meaning users can access the service through a secure online portal and access the product immediately. SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, so there’s no on-premise work and no bulky hardware servers to install – getting set up with a SaaS solution can be as simple as signing up for an account online.
  2. SaaS solutions are affordable
    Without the need for time-consuming on-premise work and expensive hardware installations, SaaS solutions are more affordable right out of the box. In addition, SaaS solutions benefit from the economies of scale – a single SaaS code can be deployed across multiple customers; these cost savings are oftentimes reflected in the lower subscription costs. Instead of servicing individual accounts, SaaS providers can continuously update and monitor a single code, decreasing the development resources needed to maintain service to each customer.In addition, SaaS solutions are pay-as-you-go. Customers only pay for the solutions they use and aren’t subjected to exorbitant fees for features they won’t use. Most SaaS solutions can scale with the needs of each customer – up and down – based on their needs.
  3. SaaS customers benefit from a reduced time to benefit
    Quicker implementation times, lower upfront costs, and lower overall fees reduces the overall time to benefit.
  4. SaaS customers benefit from free version upgrades and automatic updates
    Since SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, providers can access their services remotely. SaaS customers benefit from the continuous innovation and rollout of new features and solutions, and have the privilege of accessing the most up-to-date version of the software. In addition, upgraded product features that would have incurred custom work fees are oftentimes provided for free.
  5. SaaS solutions have increased uptime and security
    Since the solution is not hosted on premise, the provider is typically responsible for maintaining minimum uptime and security standards outlined in Service Level Agreements. Cloud service providers and SaaS vendors specialize in security and are therefore oftentimes more secure than typical in-house solutions.

What does this mean for utilities?
Instead of wasting years building complex solutions internally or paying exorbitant consulting fees for solutions that already exist, utilities can leverage already existing SaaS products to solve their problems. SaaS solutions are the affordable flexible alternative to internal development work and external consulting services. Utilities can benefit from lower implementation barriers, lower costs, and continuous feature upgrades.

Here at GridCure, we pride ourselves in for being a forerunner in SaaS technology development for utilities. We provide SaaS predictive analytics specifically for electric utilities and other entities who manage their own smart grids. Similar to typical SaaS service providers, we host our solution in the cloud, allowing us to provide our services remotely giving our clients all the benefits of a cloud-hosted SaaS solution. You can learn more about our solutions here.