For the past couple of years, software as a service has been all the rage, with most companies adopting at least some form of online delivery for their products. That evolution has made a lot of sense, because SaaS offers a number of benefits such as fast delivery, convenient access, flexible development, and declining costs, all of which make SaaS attractive to users, developers, and business folks alike.
But SaaS has its downsides, too. Most notably, you have to be connected to the internet to access SaaS applications. While that’s not generally a problem, it can be frustrating in areas with slow connectivity, and getting things done becomes impossible when no internet connection is available. Even though these scenarios may seem scarce, they happen more often than you think – like while traveling, or even in hotels or airports that purport to have wifi but end up having unreasonably slow connections (because everyone’s using them).
Probably the biggest downside of SaaS is the loss of a rich user experience. New consumer devices – tablets, phablets, smartphones, etc – demand native applications for the best experience and engagement.
For this and other reasons, electronic software delivery (ESD) is making a comeback. ESD hearkens back to the days when we’d actually download and install files, instead of running everything through our browsers. Most notably, you can use these software applications offline, so even when traveling by train, plane, or automobile (especially a DeLorean), you can count on downloaded software to perform every task you need to get done. Also, Modern ESD applications, such as Evernote, are automatically backed up along with your computer, allowing you to access your content at any time, on any device.
With more than 50 percent of our digital time now spent in mobile apps, accessing applications from other devices can be a big deal. Ultimately, the best option may not be either downloaded apps or SaaS offerings, but a blend of both – a SaaS/ESD hybrid, if you will. Because where we’re going, we might not need roads… but we will need apps. And maybe a flux capacitor.