Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud Computing: An Empirical Investigation on University Students’ Perception

Ghilan Al-Madhagy Taufiq-Hail, Ayed Rheal A. Alanzi, Shafiz A Mohd Yusof, Madallah M Alruwaili
Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management  •  Volume 16  •  2021  •  pp. 213-253

This study aims to propose and empirically validate a model and investigates the factors influencing acceptance and use of Software as a Services cloud computing services (SaaS) from individuals’ perspectives utilizing an integrative model of Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) with modifications to suit the objective of the study.

Even though SaaS cloud computing services has gained the acceptance in its educational and technical aspects, it is still expanding constantly with emerging cloud technologies. Moreover, the individual as an end-user of this technology has not been given the ample attention pertaining to SaaS acceptance and adoption (AUSaaS). Additionally, the higher education sector needs to be probed regarding AUSaaS perception, not only from a managerial stance, but also the individual. Hence, further investigation in all aspects, including the human factor, deserves deeper inspection.

A quantitative approach with probability multi-stage sampling procedure conducted utilizing survey instrument distributed among students from three public Malaysian universities. The valid collected responses were 289 Bachelor’s degree students. The survey included the demographic part as well as the items to measure the constructs relationships hypothesized.

The empirical results disclosed the appropriateness of the integrated model in explaining the individual’s attitude (R2 = 57%), the behavior intention (R2 = 64%), and AUSaaS at the university settings (R2 = 50%). Also, the study offers valuable findings and examines new relationships that considered a theoretical contribution with proven empirical results. That is, the subjective norms effect on attitude and AUSaaS is adding empirical evidence of the model hypothesized. Knowing the significance of social effect is important in utilizing it to promote university products and SaaS applications – developed inside the university – through social media networks. Also, the direct effect of perceived usefulness on AUSaaS is another important theoretical contribution the SaaS service providers/higher education institutes should consider in promoting the usefulness of their products/services developed or offered to students/end-users. Additionally, the research contributes to the knowledge of the literature and is considered one of the leading studies on accepting SaaS services and applications as proliferation of studies focus on the general and broad concept of cloud computing. Furthermore, by integrating two theories (i.e., TPB and TAM), the study employed different factors in studying the perceptions towards the acceptance of SaaS services and applications: social factors (i.e., subjective norms), personal capabilities and capacities (i.e., perceived behavioral control), technological factors (i.e., perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use), and attitudinal factors. These factors are the strength of both theories and utilizing them is articulated to unveil the salient factors affecting the acceptance of SaaS services and applications.

A statistically positive significant influence of the main TPB constructs with AUSaaS was revealed. Furthermore, subjective norms (SN) and perceived usefulness (PU) demonstrated prediction ability on AUSaaS. Also, SN proved a statically significant effect on attitude (ATT). Specifically, the main contributors of intention are PU, perceived ease of use, ATT, and perceived behavioral control. Also, the proposed framework is validated empirically and statistically.

The proposed model is highly recommended to be tested in different settings and cultures. Also, recruiting different respondents with different roles, occupations, and cultures would likely draw more insights of the results obtained in the current research and its generalizability

Participants from private universities or other educational institutes suggested in future work as the sample here focused only on public sector universities. The model included limited number of variables suggesting that it can be extended in future works with other constructs such as trialability, compatibility, security, risk, privacy, and self-efficacy. Comparison of different ethnic groups, ages, genders, or fields of study in future research would be invaluable to enhance the findings or reveal new insights. Replication of the study in different settings is encouraged.

common method bias, PLS-SEM, SaaS cloud computing, subjective norms, technology acceptance, TPB and TAM integrated model
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