With more digital services and applications available to us than ever before, the sharing economy is notably changing consumer expectations around ownership and access to products. More and more, people expect to receive and use products as and when they need them, paying only for how much they use. Brands like Nike and Mercedes-Benz are leading the way on this business shift: Nike Adventure Club lets parents order children's shoes on a quarterly, bimonthly or monthly basis, and Mercedes-Benz Collection provides on-demand access to the firm's vehicle fleet for a monthly fee.
This need for on-demand experiences is also presenting itself in the business world. Now, flexible consumption models enable companies to remain agile while choosing the computing services that work best for them, regardless of their size. As a result, businesses are going the extra mile to ensure their processes are streamlined by circumventing the old bonds of one-size-fits-all contracts.
In today's customer-centric world, businesses need to keep pace and ensure they can also provide sharing economy-like experiences while maintaining a low overhead. To do that, they need to tap into the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) evolution.
What do we mean by everything?
Let's take a step back. With the emergence of Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service, we've seen businesses across industries opt into services on demand instead of individual products. Data storage services have experienced a similar evolution, with businesses moving through private cloud, multicloud and hybrid cloud services as their needs dictate, increasing scalability.
That transition – from fixed to flexible – is what defines XaaS, and it's a trend that's not slowing down. XaaS is an "anything as a service" model that allows companies and consumers to sign up for products, tools and tech solutions online. And the global XaaS market is expected to flourish – at a compound annual growth rate of 24% between 2019 and 2024.
The benefits of the sharing economy
It's easy math. Any business that offers a B2B product or service and continues to lock customers into extended contracts will, at some point, lose out to a more agile competitor. Like customers, business decision-makers increasingly expect the pay-as-you-go services: They want easy, frictionless access to software and hardware without having to support and maintain it, as well as one-size-fits-all contracts that reflect this demand.
Adopting this approach, be it through their own services or by incorporating outside services to improve internal processes, allows organizations to reduce their operating expenses, work with more predictable costs and minimize the effort they need to put in.
Businesses are already discovering the benefits of the subscription service model. The strategy provides a wide range of benefits to companies, including giving them the freedom to:
- Introduce new solutions faster. Deloitte research has uncovered that 75% of businesses believe XaaS helps them introduce new solutions faster and more easily. 70% also say it helps them use tools that would have been too expensive in the past. This is crucial for small businesses with ambitions to grow and thrive.
- Better interpret data. The old method of making decisions based on intuition doesn't stand up in the world of XaaS. Businesses now have access to big data tools that enable them to analyze and interpret more data at a much lower cost and make better, more informed decisions. SaaS tools like Mixpanel and Heap allow for event-driven analytics, allowing businesses to intelligently track and predict product and user behavior alike. Intercom marries this idea with customer support, allowing for omnichannel engagement with customers based on their journey online.
- Streamline finances. Companies that have adopted a greater proportion of XaaS models are more likely to achieve major cost reductions. By not having to go "all in" on software purchases, office space and expensive hardware, businesses have the chance to save on costs by only paying for the features and tools they plan to use. And as regular hardware replacement options mean less depreciation in tangible assets, XaaS also enables businesses to reduce their overhead considerably.
- Increase productivity. Most XaaS applications were tailor-made for boosting workplace productivity. Slack facilitates rapid communication and file sharing across teams, while LastPass works to streamline password management and security, so you and your team can spend less time wrangling credentials. Similarly, scaling IT infrastructure can be really expensive: It makes a dent in your budget and prevents your employees from doing their jobs. Employing XaaS can minimize the time spent on maintenance and upgrades, chances of server failure and removes the pressure of managing your own servers.
- Stay competitive. XaaS is now considered non-negotiable: Companies that don't incorporate it may risk trailing behind the competition. As reported by Deloitte, 39% of companies have reported that increased XaaS adoption helps them keep pace with their competitors, while 28% believe their use of flexible consumption models is giving them a sizable lead.
- Prioritize cybersecurity. Research shows that 43% of all cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, but only 14% can defend themselves effectively. In many cases, a targeted cyberattack will put a small or medium-sized company out of business. Through XaaS, businesses can implement more rigorous authentication and password protection protocols, and leverage cloud-based apps to better protect themselves and their customers.
Companies use a wide array of services under this model, ordering everything from their network and help desk services to data analytics and IoT on subscription. Employing XaaS also accelerates the device refresh cycle by up to five months, ensuring employees are always working with the latest, most effective technology.
From ownership to everything
For new businesses, upfront costs like computing infrastructure can be a tall order. XaaS offers small businesses a new way to scale. One way businesses can make the jump to XaaS is by evaluating their computing infrastructure: Programs like Dell's PC as a Service (PCaaS) can empower even the smallest teams to get up and running. A monthly payment program that supplies everything needed to run a business, with flexible upgrades at any time, means that businesses have new hardware, 24/7 support and leading antivirus software at their fingertips.
Get on board the XaaS evolution
In the same way that people now get their music, clothes and even cars on a pay-for-what-you-use basis, businesses also expect to only pay for the computing products and services that they use. XaaS is changing the business world as we know it. For small and medium businesses, it presents an opportunity to stay competitive and attract new customers through streamlined, convenient offerings.