Jinfo BlogPromising but not a panacea

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By Tim Buckley Owen

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News from LexisNexis of the launch in North America of InterAction on Demand further reinforces the perception of software as a service (SaaS) as an idea whose time has come. Designed for use by mid-market law firms, LexisNexis says (http://digbig.com/4yknn) that InterAction on Demand will offer provider-hosted customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities Ė without the need for costly and complex hardware and software installation and upgrading, or specialist staffing and training, or separate licences at the customerís end. Trailed by LexisNexisís UK head Josh Bottomley in an interview in VIP 57 (http://web.vivavip.com/go/vip/57), the development grew partly out of the companyís awareness that occasional users Ė needing the service for compliance or anti-money laundering purposes for example Ė had no interest in being trained in its full functionality but just wanted it to work for them when they needed it. Itís not alone; company information provider OneSource also offers integrated CRM solutions through its own relationship with Salesforce.com Ė see Jill Fentonís Focus on OneSource and my own interview with its chief marketing officer Sham Sao, both in VIP 61 (http://web.vivavip.com/go/vip/61), for more details. As Udo Hohlfeld reports (http://www.vivavip.com/go/e16606), Salesforce has been showing impressive growth recently Ė and he also points out that both start-ups and traditional industry heavyweights are increasingly engaging in cloud computing and SaaS solutions. Itís the DIY web 2.0 thatís driving this, he explains Ė providing the computing power to allow anyone to create innovative applications. Itís probably no great surprise that CRM is both LexisNexisís and OneSourceís chosen early SaaS application; a recent study from Forrester Research confirms that CRM is where SaaSís roots lie. But Forrester also believes (http://digbig.com/4yknp) that it's poised for high growth potential in such variegated areas as web conferencing, human resources and (for small and medium sized businesses) online back-up. Even more intriguing, though, is one area where it believes SaaS may do less well: business intelligence. Although there are early adopters, Forrester reports that many are still sceptical as to its potential, particularly where large volumes and real-time data transfer are concerned.

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