Building Business Applications in the age of SaaS and Cloud

Guru Bhoopala, Head of Sales, US

The advent and adaption of SaaS platforms by corporations is fundamentally altering the way of building business applications. Adoption of SaaS applications is growing at a pace six times the rate of on -premise enterprise applications. IDC estimates that currently, about 28% of applications will be SaaS based as against 16.6% of applications being SaaS based in year 2013.

Proliferation of usage of SaaS applications provides its own set of challenges and opportunities to the IT departments who still need to build custom on premise applications for their companies.

SaaS accelerates time to Value:

Adoption of SaaS doesn’t entail significant CAPEX expenses. All you need is a subscription to the services and an Internet connection to start using it. In the past, building applications was a long drawn, complex process. Business used to sign upfront for a significant dollar spend and hope to realize the value at some point in time in future. Value realization using a SaaS platform is immediate. One can swipe a credit card and start using Salesforce for business in no time. It is that simple.

IT departments building on-premise applications should adapt to the need for accelerated time to value in their design and development process. They should not take the route of complex, lengthy and expensive way of coding applications and multiyear implementations. Companies developing on-premise applications should adopt modular architectures, resort to rapid prototyping, iterative development and use flexible reusable components. API architectures must be extensively used to enable this modularity and also opening them to access internal or external software components.

SaaS platforms enables and are built for usage:

When a user signs up to use a SaaS application, because of the modularity in the way they are built and the way they are priced, she signs up only for those features and functionalities that she would actually use. Salesforce, poster child for a successful SaaS application, provides multiple price points for varied level of usage.

Contrast that with the custom business applications that are built by a corporation in house. Typically, during the requirements gathering phase, user gives all possible use cases of requirements to be built out into the application. Whereas in the reality a lot of features and functionalities remain unused and there is a significant usage gap. This also affects time to value and increases cost of development.

On-premise applications of the future should be designed to significantly reduce this usage gap. This requires very strong requirements management framework, which helps the business visualize usage of the application during the design stage and weed out the requirements that are superfluous and don’t form part of significant usage.

SaaS enables multi-tenant architecture and easy customization

A SaaS platform is epitome of one -to -many architecture. At the same time enabling user to customize to enable his process and making the user feel that this is a one -to -one architecture. SaaS application therefore makes it redundant to maintain various versions of outdated code, saving time and dollars on maintenance and infrastructure. SaaS also enables that these user customizations are preserved during the upgrades with less risk and very low need for adoption.

Future on premise business applications should embrace this design principle. IT departments should move away from managing complexity to enabling simplification.

SaaS platforms are being adopted by business’ directly as against previous practice of IT departments

Because of ease of use and adoption, most of the SaaS technology is being directly sold to the end users (SaaS CRM to sales teams, SaaS HR platforms to HR). This change in structure of spending IT dollars is also being reflected in new roles and org structures that are coming up. Chief Marketing Technology officer (CMTO)is one such role. Currently prevalent at consumer product companies, this CMTO sits at the nexus of CMO, outside software providers, CIO and marketing. He typically makes the technology decisions and has the budget and spending powers.

IT departments developing on premise applications should embrace this change whole-heartedly. They should provide a seat at the table to the business user at all stages of development, as against current typical black box approach. IT departments should adapt to business users’ inputs and their veto decisions to make applications and IT department more business aligned.

SaaS is driving a paradigm shift in the way IT is produced and consumed by corporations. IT departments within corporations can stay relevant and thrive by adopting best principles of SaaS to their development and sustenance processes.

About the Author

Guru heads the US Sales and is based out of Chicago. He is responsible for the overall business development, customer acquisition, customer engagement, customer growth and client services for GAVS’ growing list of clientele and stakeholders in the US. Guru has over 20 plus years of business leadership experience across industries and geographies. He joined GAVS from a cloud services startup, where he was the Managing Partner. Prior to that, he was the Vice President and part of the Leadership Team at iGate Corp and was responsible for multiple industry verticals.

Customer Engagements with Chatbots


So, you’re working from home, and are unable to log into your organization’s secure channel. What do you usually do? Raise a ticket with the service desk with the highest possible priority and hope that it’s resolved quickly or head straight to office if the task can’t wait. What if you could text someone who can help you, through WhatsApp or Facebook messenger.  What if I say that you can reach out to that person any time of day or night, even during Christmas, and they will respond immediately when you do. They’ll try and identify the problem and help you resolve it or let you know if the problem cannot be solved by you, informs an engineer on your behalf and gives you an ETA. Now, that would be cool, won’t it? That’s a help desk bot for you.

The right chatbots are as knowledgeable as humans in their area, but without the challenges that come with humans. At the age where the service is expected at the same standard every single time, organizations could find an easy but exciting solution in bots. With bots meeting the standard of service every time, organizations and their staff can concentrate on adding new services or adding new features to their existing services in line with the requirements of the clients, instead of trying to streamline service delivery.

Chatbots in ITSM will mean, more time for your service desk engineers to deal with complex problems that require human intercession. It’ll mean less stress for your employees and they can scale themselves up to higher levels of support activities. ITSM chatbots mean effort and money saved, even while improving customer experience and satisfaction.

Bots can also help you to help your customers, should they face any issues with your products/services, or an engaging way to access your FAQ section. Today, more people are using messenger apps and social media than ever, therefore it’s important for organizations to be part of them. It makes sense to establish customer touch points in mediums that the customers engage with the most with. I’d even go as far to say that it might be good idea to have a roadmap for use of AI in your organizations. I

You have an impressive portfolio of products and a well-organized website to support and showcase them. When potential customers access your site, and are interested in your offerings. Would you prefer them to fill out the same old forms that’ve been used since the dawn of dynamic sites or would you have them chat with a witty bot, who can give them instant information, setting you apart from your competitors. The bot would also be a part of your brand, would portray your firm as futuristic and innovative, and rightly so. The world has never been more convinced about the substantiality of the role of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in shaping the future. So, it is a great time to invest in them.

Also, don’t get intimidated by the idea of super-human, hyper-intelligent bot. Your bot doesn’t have to be all powerful. It doesn’t have to be an Alexa. It might even be dedicated to a single utility. Like say, a shop assistant bot on a website. Deciding what your bot will do or what problem it’ll address is key. Once you’ve done that, it’ll be easier to decide whether you should use an existing development platform or you’re better off taking help from a bunch of friends and starting from scratch. Choosing the right medium or publishing platform is also important, as this can have a substantial impact on how popular your bot can get and how well you can reach your target users.  For example, if you want to develop an entertainment chatbot, targeted at teens, you could publish your bot on facebook’s messenger and use a dev platform like ChatFuel.  For a more serious bot, say a personal assistant,  maybe you should use LUIS and microsoft’s bot framework on Skype. Again, the principle functionality of the bot and the problem it addresses will help you decide on the medium as well.

Well thought out use-cases will improve the chances of you developing a winner, instead of a whiner who annoys users with frequent notifications, or simply a non-interesting bot.

If you’re with a company that has a sizeable infrastructure system(s) in place, then consider ITSM chatbots for your own staff. If your company sells products or services, consider getting a chatbot embedded on your website, (especially, if you’re B2B), on popular messengers (if you’re B2C), and on social media (B2B and B2C).

With the emphasis customers place on ease of communication and availability of support. Why not extend them this courtesy right from the first communication, even before they become your customers?

For executives, who think a chatbot might be something their organization can benefit from, but are wary about the investments and the time, a chatbot could be a lot more affordable than you would’ve imagined, especially if they’re built on bot building platform. You might be able to develop a beta within a few months with just a couple of your own developers.

If your needs are unique and complex, or if you have a long-term vision for your bot, then developing one from scratch maybe a good option. You can also buy one off the rack and customize it or get one built just for you, you can hire a team online, or talk to your IT partner. So, developing a chatbot is not all that expensive, especially considering the potential benefits.

About the Author:

Jayashree is a presales consultant at GAVS Technologies and works on cutting edge technology solutions & proposals. A management post graduate, Jay is a toastmaster, a rookie blogger and a Potterhead who also appreciates Jane Austen.

Dear Exec – Are YOU in the ‘NEW’?


In an era when Digital Transformation has become the need of the hour, how good are companies equipped to handle the emerging technologies? Let’s say companies found the right people for the right job, but what about the leaders? How good are they to visualize the digital strategy and to communicate the same needs?

Any typical company has a board, a CEO and the other CXOs and a mid-management level to execute the vision of the CEO and other CXO’s and to fulfil the obligations of and to the Board and the shareholders.  Let’s look into each group.

The Board

The board of directors are entrusted with guiding and controlling executives of the company in the areas of formulation, implementation and evaluation of the company’s objectives, strategies and policies. The board thus plays a critical role in the path a company takes. And with the above described digital journey being undertaken, companies have understood how important it is to have a diverse, digital- savvy board as well.   The next-gen directors bring not only the requisite experience but also but also a connection to the digital nature of the companies’ customers. Products and supply base.

19% of new independent directors of S&P 500 boards in 2017 have backgrounds in the technology or telecommunications industries and it is the highest among all sectors. And with the average age of the board member going down, it explains further what companies are looking for. The millennial aspirations are different from what the other generations. And to understand these needs it makes sense for Retail and Consumer products to bring in the next-gen to boards to connect more with the segment(Walmart brought in Instagram founder to their board)  These directors have the ability to change the nature of the conversation in the boardroom by including the topics of automation and Artificial Intelligence(AI) in processes, digital footprint expansion and meeting ever-changing customer preferences. But the challenge will be their integration into governance centric boards. If the other board members have an open mind about what the new-gen brings and if the new-gen can prove how the value for the shareholders will enhance, then we have a win-win situation.

The C-Suite

The CEO and other CXOs need to understand the business, the competitive environment, financials and how value can be generated for the shareholders. They need to be able to reach across their functional silos to find the right solutions for the company. CEOs need to take a holistic view of their industry, seeing opportunities, understanding when and how to pivot and building a digital strategy to meet the company goals, keeping all the challenges in mind.

In an era, where being well-informed is not a difficulty, the challenge is understanding relevance. When a lot of new information is available deciding what needs to be read, digested and explored itself becomes a challenge. Here is where the new age visualization dashboards can help a tech-savvy CEO. If the priorities are known, it becomes easier to use the right data. In a period where people can know what is happening in the opposite world in seconds, it is important that the workforce is also kept well informed. New-age communication tools and social media tools help CEO’s to have a line of dialogue open with the employees and other stakeholders. Also, the new age communication platform can help a CEO hear a brilliant idea from even the lowest rung in the organization, thus helping the idea of crowdsourcing of ideas for the firm! The only need of caution during all the adoption of technologies is missing the basic priorities can backfire as an unintended communication can even take organizations down!


The Middle Management Group

Recently, a major IT firm fired 200 senior leaders to leave as the company felt the leaders were not adapting to the “changing environment” The company also said that in the scheme of ‘newer digital requirements’ these employees did not possess the right skill sets needed. This news on deeper analysis sends a strong message- the requirements of the new age manager are just not people-centricity and project management. It is also an understanding of the new age technologies. These technologies cannot only help them connect with the tech-savvy millennials working with them but also bring in better value to the business by finding optimization methods in their domain with new-age digital technologies

But how can a leader or manager manage this change?

  • Communication and Learning – Frequent interactions with peers and even the younger generation can help a person gain basic knowledge. Also, instead of learning to code it is important to understand the usage of different apps and devices are used, which experiences are causing user headaches and the features that are working well or falling short.
  • Understanding what matters – In senior levels understanding digital platforms and how they drive different kinds of engagement and knowing which metrics are relevant to the organization’s goals are important. This also has a requirement of knowing how the target consumer interacts with the new-age technologies and how this interaction has shaped the very behaviour of the consumer. This understanding can help in tailoring the behaviour of the organization towards consumers. The managers need to know these technologies for they play a key role in not only executing these ideas but also communication these new thoughts to the people lower down, for that what is not understood cannot be communicated.
  • Bringing in the right people- If organizations feel that based on their market research, they do not have the digitally skilled people, it is time they are brought in at various levels, for in the uneasiness to change, the competitive advantage cannot be lost!

In short, the digital revolution has brought in challenges for people in the top of the pyramid to the people at the bottom. The organizations that will come out unscathed and victorious in the revolution are the ones that have the attitude to change even if it is not in their comfort zone. And there is no better time to learn about the world at the fingertips then now!


About the Author:

Rajalakshmi is part of the CEO’s Office at GAVS Technologies. She works closely with the C-Suite executives at GAVS by helping in the roll-out of various strategic initiatives by donning the hats of strategist, analyst and problem solver, as required. She is an avid reader, travel enthusiast, toastmaster, the occasional blogger and is game for new challenges and experiences.

Does more elastic mean unshielded?

The network perimeter is expanding like an elastic to include high-speed (4G/5G and LTE) networks, wireless access points, branch/home offices, roaming users, cloud services, and third parties accessing the data and applications to perform services. These changes to the size, scope and surface of the network can lead to misconfiguration or change control errors that could lead to security breaches; thus increasing the need for security solutions that are to be consistently deployed at each device or point of infrastructure, and a central management to keep on top of the dynamics of this elastic infrastructure and the various layers of security at each endpoint.

Not simply to be another medium of communication but as a catalyst for minimizing the boundary between the digital world and the physical world, the 5G era is on its way to serve vertical industries like Vehicle Network, Internet of Things (IoT), AR/VR, and many more that demand fast yet all-pervasive network.  When it comes to serving vertical industries, security requirements may vary from one service to another. As the IoT continues to gain momentum, more people will be able to remotely operate networked devices and this will surely call for the deployment of a stricter user-authentication method to prevent unauthorized access to IoT devices. For example, biometric identification systems can be installed in smart homes.

Security is a necessary enabler for the continuity of business.  As network users, we’ve already realized the importance of

security and privacy, are we’re aware of the security levels provided based on the experience with earlier generations.  To provide continuity of perceived security, it is important that security and privacy features that exist in earlier generations are also present in 5G, although the actual technical security mechanisms may be different.  Yet, it wouldn’t suffice just to provide the same security features as in the legacy systems because there may be new security requirements and challenges.  Yes, 5G systems are going to be service-oriented, which implies there will be a special emphasis on security and privacy requirements that stem from the angle of services.

Different services would require different security mechanisms that would rely on flexible security architecture to support end-to-end protection. For example, lightweight security can suit the requirements of IoT while remote healthcare services will demand resilient security.  In cloud environment, where multiple vendors provide software and equipment for network infrastructure, security concerns may get more complicated. This scenario can be addressed by building an E2E data security chain that would not only reduce dependence on individual link security but would also streamline security management.

The 5G network is one that runs over multiple types of network. User data may traverse various access networks and network functional entities supplied by different vendors. As a result, it’s possible that user privacy information could exist in any corner of the networks. With data mining technologies, a 3rd-party may be able to derive detailed user privacy information through analysis on the disperse user privacy data. Therefore, it’s time to have privacy information exposure risks thoroughly considered in the 5G network.

Networks can offer security systems as a service to vertical industries; they may choose to validate service access and send back the authorization result to vertical industries. The network may decide whether it would implement the security service on a cloud platform or deploy it in a virtual network slice of the industry that has paid for the security service.  It is important for networks to separate virtual network slices to protect the confidentiality of information and prevent one user’s resources from being accessed by other users in other slices. For example, one network company may choose to block other companies from using its resources even though similar virtual network slices are serving the needs of these companies.

A large number of vertical industries will be served by 5G networks and hence, information security and user privacy would become crucial to the success of 5G networks. Progress in data mining technologies has eased the process of retrieval of user privacy information, which is why additional care should be taken to protect user information in 5G networks. Data breach can lead to severe consequences. 5G networks should

promote efficient usage management practices to protect user data. 5G networks function by sensing the service features of users and providing customized network services. However, this sensing process may promote the utilization of users’ confidential information. Therefore, 5G networks should abide by a service sensing rule that should define how networks should use privacy information and how it should handle that information after using it.

Characteristics of 5G Security:

The drivers for 5G mobile network security can be grouped into four characteristics of 5G networks and their usage, each with implications for privacy and security.  These characteristics are: new trust models, new service delivery models, an evolved threat landscape, and increased privacy concerns.

New Trust Models

Trust models change over time. As a simple example, consider the bring-your-own-device trend in enterprises. Previously, all user devices could be assumed to be trustworthy, as they were all of the same type, all issued and managed by the corporate IT department. Today, users want to use their personal devices instead, posing threats as potential Trojan horses behind corporate firewalls. For current mobile

systems, the trust model is rather straightforward, involving a subscriber (and their terminal) and two operators (the home and serving networks). The new types of devices will span an extremely wide range of security requirements and will at the same time have very different security postures: industry automation control devices, shipping containers, vehicles forming entire capillary networks, tiny climate monitoring sensors and, next-generation tablets and smartphones.  To ensure that 5G can support the needs of new business models, and ensure sufficient security, the trust model map must be redrawn. As such, this does not necessarily mean completely redesigning security. However, it is crucial to identify any significant shortcomings. This must begin by defining a new trust model.

Security for new service delivery models

The use of clouds and virtualization emphasizes the dependency on secure software, and leads to other effects on security. Current 3GPP-defined systems are based on functional node specifications and abstract interfaces (reference points) between them, and as such provide a good starting point for virtualization. Until now, however, dedicated/proprietary hardware has still often been used for these nodes and interfaces. Decoupling software and hardware means that telecom software can no longer rely on the specific security attributes of a dedicated telecom hardware platform.  When operators host third-party applications in their telecom clouds, executing on the same hardware as native telecom services, there are increased demands on virtualization with strong isolation properties.

Increased privacy concerns 

There have been several recent news stories related to allegations like tracking users in major cities, and of extracting personal data without user knowledge. In security terms, particularly sensitive asset is the user identifier(s). Ever since 2G, user privacy has been an important consideration. However, the benefits of full International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) protection have so far not seemed to outweigh the complexity of implementing it.

Evolved threat landscape

The ubiquity of 5G devices and connectivity will not only affect the technological attack surface; the exposure to social engineering attacks will also increase. People claiming to be colleagues or repair technicians, for instance, may contact an individual and request various kinds of access – not only to the individual’s information, but also to their devices.  This leads to a need to strengthen certain security functional areas:  the new threats would emphasize the need for measurable security assurance and compliance; in other words, verifying the presence, correctness and sufficiency of the security functions.



5G Security Challenges and Ways to Overcome Them

A Bold Approach to Leadership in the Digital Age

Kerrie Hoffman

To thrive in the Digital world, companies need to reinvent themselves on a regular basis.  Reinvention in the Digital age requires 2 things: a belief that Digital transformation is within reach, and the ability to change points of view on what was previously known as fact.  Neither of these are truly accomplished without strong leaders with a bold approach!

But first, what the heck is the Digital Age and Digital Transformation?  Let’s get grounded in some history.  The age just prior to the 18th century was the Agricultural Age.  It was the period when mostly agrarian, rural societies became industrial and urban [1] – hence the Term the Industrial Revolution beginning somewhere between the 18th and 19th century.  The Industrial Revolution is often characterized by the development of the iron and textile industries, the steam engine and the computer [2] .  Many believe we are in the midst of moving to the next age, we just don’t know what to call it yet!  I’m sure at the turn of the Agricultural Age people didn’t instantly call it the Industrial Revolution.  This new age has been called the Digital Age, the Cognitive Age and the Age of Accelerations.  Some call it the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Since the breadth and depth of the current technology landscape is changing entire systems of production, management, and governance [3], I believe we are moving out of the Industrial Revolution.  All debating aside – this time what we are in is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres [4].  Advancements in computer power will soon reach beyond Moores law as we start to see quantum computing become a reality.  Still hard to get your head around?  Suffice it to say, the exponential changes in technology are creating an accelerated business pace that require companies to reinvent themselves regularly in order to remain relevant.   Hence the need for a bold approach to leadership.

Let’s break down a bold approach to leadership into three components:

  1. Having a Bold Vision for the future
  2. Achieving an Exponential Pace
  3. Delivering through Strong Execution 
  1. Bold Vision

One of the primary roles of a Leader is to set the vision for the future.  To thrive in a digital world, that vision needs to be BOLD, very BOLD.  At the same time, the vision must be believable.  After all, everyone involved must believe that digital transformation is within reach.  This requires the Leader to move beyond the typical role of setting the vision, to also being an Evangelist for the vision.  An evangelist in the digital age keeps up with the latest technology (even if not in charge of IT or digital products), interacts with experts, and finds real examples of where at least components of their vision have been realized in the market.  The role of the evangelist also involves, educating leadership, peers, staff and partners on the details, and convincing others to follow.  A customer ‘in’ approach is key, with deep knowledge of the customer and what customer problems need to be solved.  This is very different from a product and services ‘out to the customer’ approach.

  1. Exponential Pace

Thomas L. Friedman is well known for writing the book ‘The World is Flat’.  Mr. Friedman also wrote the book ‘THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE – An optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations’.  In chapter two he introduces Astro Teller’s Graph showing technology reaching an exponential pace and human adoption falling behind [5] .

The bold approach to leadership jumps right into the gap, providing ways to learn faster and govern smarter.  To achieve an exponential pace without burning everyone out, it’s essential to change points of view on things that were previously know as fact.  For example, with a traditionally architected business system like many ERPs, end to end process standardization was essential to an efficient and cost-effective implementation and lifecycle.  With modernly architected platforms using microservices, the steps in a process can be standardized with end to end process variability using standardized components.  This is essential given the pace at which business models need to be adjusted and requirements change.  Reaching an exponential pace also requires adoption of current technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain to name a few.  Implementation is not done individually, but rather through partners with solid Application Platform Ecosystems (APE) [6] .  And yes, everything really can move to the cloud, which is an article in and of itself.

  1. Strong Execution

Strong execution has always been a requirement for success.  Strong execution in the digital age requires the adoption of process accelerators.  For example, companies, regardless of how large, will never have all the talent they need to thrive in a digital world.  The adoption of process accelerators such as Crowd Sourcing, Crowd Funding, and Open Source Platforms can fill the talent gap.  It’s also critical to make sure the company is working on the right products and services.  Establishing process accelerators around Customer Centricity to move to a Customer ‘in’ approach are essential.  Other process accelerators to adopt include: Micro-Tasking/Micro-Services, the Sharing Economy, Agile Methodology, and Business Accelerators (commonly used for start-ups and useful for innovation projects).

Sample Bold Vision

In closing, let’s look at a sample Bold Vision.  Not the inspirational one sentence type of vision, but a vision in the form of an outline of a digital transformation strategy meant to be executed in 18 months.  A strategy that moves all business process changes and new business models to the cloud, runs all projects in an agile methodology, and delivers technology enablement at or faster than the speed of business:

  • Customer Focused Transformation – flip to an ‘outside in’ approach, starting with the customer and resulting in transformed products and services
  • Commitment to Deliver
    • Spend Less – through a digital architecture, execution excellence and exiting the past
    • Deliver More – through customer focused teams, best talent and digital data
    • Finish Faster – through speed to value, external partner collaboration, and agile delivery and operations
  • Deliver a modern business technology architecture

Do you believe this vision is possible in 18 months in a large complex company?  Hint – this is not a hypothetical vision.  It’s a vision from 2015, executed by the 3rd quarter of 2016 in a very large, complex business unit. 

A bold approach to leadership in the Digital Age requires: a Bold Vision for the future, achieving an Exponential Pace, and delivering through Strong Execution.


[1] “Industrial Revolution”History Channel

[2] Wikipedia

[3] [4] Schwab, Klaus (January 11, 2016). The Fourth Industrial Revolution. World Economic Forum. ISBN 1944835008.

[5] Book by Thomas L. Friedman ‘THANK YOU FOR BEING LATE – An optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations’

[6] Application Platform Ecosystems (APE) from the Book by Jedidiah Yueh ‘DISRUPT OR DIE – What the World Needs to Learn from Silicon Valley to Survive the Digital Era

About the Author

Kerrie Hoffman is a Certified Business Coach, Digital Advisor and Speaker. She is currently the owner of FocalPoint Business Coaching, a Hoffman Advantage LLC Company.

Kerrie specializes in business growth and digital transformation. She has experience in multiple Industries where she’s worked a variety of roles including CIO, operations, supply chain and sales. She was previously with Aurora Health Care, Johnson & Johnson and Johnson Controls. She was CIO of a Business Unit at Johnson Controls.