Small businesses can be prone to underestimating the usefulness of the IT tools and services that their larger counterparts embrace.
And just because a solution is popular with major corporations, that doesn’t preclude it from benefiting up-and-coming companies as well.
SQL is a great example of this, and the small businesses which choose to harness it can experience a wide range of benefits.
If you are unsure what SQL has to offer in a small business context, here are just a handful of potential uses to grab your attention.
Escaping the Limits of Spreadsheet Software
While you might be able to scrape by with basic spreadsheet software to store, organize and analyze mission-critical data in the short term, eventually this will become unwieldy and impractical.
This is where SQL, or structured query language, comes into play. It is used to underpin full-blown database solutions, such as Microsoft’s SQL Server, which let you manage large volumes of information with ease.
There are all sorts of features and add-ons in the SQL Server ecosystem which can be handy for small businesses as well, SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) being just one example. So what is SSIS used for? In short, it lets you pull together data from multiple sources and leverage it as you see fit.
You might utilize SQL to gain marketing insights based on the sales data you accumulate from customer transactions. You might use it to spot trends in your industry which have yet to be capitalized upon. You might use it to identify inefficiencies in your own operations, or simply to make sure that payroll data is kept accurately.
Whatever you might want spreadsheet software to achieve, you can do it more quickly, easily and flexibly with SQL on your side.
Expanding Your Horizons
Of course SQL is about more than just dealing with data for bookkeeping and market research purposes. It can also be adapted to support all kinds of other functions and solutions.
For example, lots of small businesses have a SQL database at the center of their website, ensuring that visitors are able to enjoy a quick, slick user experience, and also enabling e-commerce functionality as well.
Likewise if you decide to make an application further down the line, whether customer-facing or for internal use, a SQL Server deployment will let you develop whatever type of software you have in mind.
While SQL is a programming language in its own right, it is far more approachable than other examples out there. So if you plan on learning it to use it for your small business, it won’t be as much of an uphill struggle as you’d assume.
That is not to say that you have to handle every element of SQL in-house. You can easily outsource everything from database design and management to hosting to third party providers. It is even possible to host a SQL infrastructure in the cloud, rather than needing on-premises hardware.
So if SQL sounds like it has something to offer your small business, now is the perfect moment to investigate your options further.
SaaS pricing inflation growing 4x faster than market inflation
Inflation has dominated the financial news landscape in 2022. In many markets, the consumer price index (CPI), has reached its highest point in a generation. This growth in the cost of ‘things’ also applies to software.
Almost every organisation has come to rely on SaaS to conduct business, from communications tools like Slack and Zoom to productivity suites like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, as well as department-specific platforms like Atlassian, Workday, NetSuite or Salesforce.
This is according to a report into SaaS inflation pricing from Vertice, a SaaS purchasing and spend management platform.
Spending on SaaS products grew more than tenfold between 2010 and 2020, from $13b to $157b annually. Investment accelerated even faster at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as companies raced to support remote working. SaaS spending increased by 26% in the months following the initial lockdown in 2020 and has only continued to grow in the years since.
Unlike many other significant overheads, like payroll and rent, the selection, management and renewal of SaaS are decentralised in nearly every organisation. This is for a variety of reasons, but buying power plays the most important role. Buying power typically sits across several individuals and departments, with finance leaders managing budget requirements, IT teams assessing systems and compliance considerations, and department heads selecting based on functionality. It’s a complex web of decision making and, even with the best intentions, it can be a struggle to gain a single view of all of the SaaS products a company uses.
This ‘wild west’ of a cost centre is a significant problem when the share of the total cost is considered. A growing percentage of all expenditures for businesses goes to SaaS, with around 12.7% of total spending now used on software investments. That means $1 in every $8 that modern organisations spend is now dedicated to SaaS. To translate that into dollars — as of 2022, companies spend around $3,112 per employee each year on SaaS. This figure rises to $4,552 for technology companies, who spend more than firms in any other category.
It has taken only five years for average SaaS spending to double. Based on the economic inflation rate over the same period, it would take 18 years for the cost of SaaS to double. This growth has far outpaced the rate of general economic inflation, even after factoring in recent periods of an uncharacteristically high CPI.
Clearly, the impact of SaaS in terms of productivity, collaboration and inclusion has been significant – but the accompanying cost has also been quietly spiralling upwards.
Analysis of more than 10,000 SaaS contracts shows that 74% of vendors have increased their list pricing since 2019. Among the quarter of vendors that have not, almost all have reduced the size of the average discount afforded to customers – effectively raising the spend without touching the list price.
A comparison of regional inflation rates with the SaaS inflation rate by geography reveals that over the past five years the cost of SaaS for US organisations has grown 3.5x faster than the general inflation rate – even after accounting for an exceptionally high national inflation rate in 2022.
SaaS inflation has outstripped general inflation rates even more rapidly elsewhere; spending at British and Australian firms has risen at a rate five times greater than regional economic inflation.
Joel Windels, VP of marketing at Vertice, said: “It’s become clear that not only is SaaS critical to modern businesses, but also that it represents a growing cost centre that can rapidly spiral out of control without strategic management. Even without investing in new tools or added licences, the data shows that spending on SaaS is exploding. With an uncertain economic outlook for 2023, finance leaders absolutely have to start taking a more considered approach to SaaS spending if they are to maintain growth and streamline their operations”