The cloud is effectively changing the entire way we do business, thanks to its many attendant benefits, including cost-effectiveness, ease of use, the sheer flexibility it offers to businesses, the fact that employees can now work from anywhere, and the manner in which it increases an organisation’s overall competitiveness. However, potentially the best benefit of all is the ability to obtain anything as a service (XaaS).

XaaS has certainly had a significant impact on how numerous industries operate today, from sales to transportation, and encompassing everything else in between. The more prevalent the ‘as a service’ model has become, the further we have moved beyond software and data delivery. In fact, the XaaS market has now reached the point where it will likely become a major disruptor in today’s business landscape.

There is no doubt the economy is in a particularly uncertain space at present, which means businesses need to be able to react quickly to rapidly changing conditions. The as-a-service delivery model is ideal for providing companies with the agility to do exactly that. At the same time, explains Traci Maynard, Microsoft Executive at Axiz, the innovation cycle is accelerating, and if businesses want to stay competitive, they need to continually innovate and reduce time to value for new products and services. The advent of XaaS enables them to do this.

“When it comes to XaaS, organisations are attracted to this model because they can see how it ties directly to business outcomes. The company approaches a service provider with a set of outcomes that they want to achieve, and the service provider tailors a solution that delivers on those outcomes, while at the same time delivering all the other advantages mentioned above,” she says.

“XaaS is also levelling the playing fields quite dramatically, since it means that if anyone can choose the services they want, with little to no technical skills or knowledge, it opens up a tremendous opportunity for small businesses to compete more directly with their larger brethren.”

Using this model, explains Maynard, even the smallest of businesses has the opportunity to access enterprise-level infrastructure, services and applications at a cost point that is appropriate to them. And being able to access enterprise quality infrastructure and services means these smaller organisations are able to more directly compete in the same market space as the big corporations.

“The other key driver of the XaaS adoption is that of digital transformation, which absolutely requires flexibility and agility to drive it forward. Legacy systems simply can’t change fast enough to keep up with the changes currently facing the modern business world, and XaaS allows companies to change on demand, as they see fit, personalising specific processes or scaling up or down to fit a changing business season or climate,” she says.

“It must also be remembered that in what is an increasingly tough economy, the bottom line is all the more critical and every IT department is trying its hardest to do more with less. The good thing about XaaS is that it usually requires little investment on the front end, while at the same time allowing the user to grow or expand their level of service as needed.”

However, continues Maynard, XaaS does more than merely cut costs. It also holds the potential to drive growth and revenue for companies that can use it creatively and effectively. This is because XaaS ‘liberates’ IT teams from mundane daily tasks like management and monitoring, freeing them up to focus on more strategic operations and allowing companies to invest money in business strategy, rather than infrastructure and maintenance.

“The speed of technology development today is such that no one wants to fall behind, and XaaS is the ideal answer to this challenge: after all, what could be easier than trying some new software or program to improve customer experience or employee engagement as a service? Such an approach costs very little and helps to eliminate the risk of being stuck with the solution if it doesn’t deliver as you had hoped.

“It is clear then that the subscription economy is not only here to stay, it is growing and changing buying patterns. Of course, just like any other solution, XaaS will only work as well as you allow it to; in other words, you must always remember that a solid vision, competent technology strategy and effective customer engagement plan must accompany any XaaS strategy that you put in motion,” she concludes.