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Web-based application platforms open up a new world for the software entrepreneur to conquer

Director of Academics, Devendra Pathak had a problem. Every year, hundreds of students would apply at his college, the Delhi Business School and he had to struggle to keep up with the recruitment process.

We are mainly targeting the Rs 10 or 50 crore companies.

Srikant Rao
President and CEO,
Affordable Business Solutions

“We get applications from all corners of the country,” says he, “I had to call up the heads of each department to find out what was happening. Each department would then send their information separately. Every time I wanted an update, this had to be repeated.”

Pathak, therefore, looked for a software to help him manage recruitment at the 700-student institute. “Quite a few companies made presentations. But most wanted us to buy a whole package that contained a lot of things we did not need. However, we found one vendor who offered to give us only what we wanted. As a result, the price they offered was also very competitive compared to the others,” Pathak says.

a2zApplications, the company that Pathak chose, is a good example of how a new generation of software companies is rewriting the rules of the software industry.

a2z, like a few others in the business offers software on rent. So, instead of buying the products at one go, you pay a fixed ‘rent’ for using it. Besides, you don’t have to take the entire product on rent, only the parts you need. In Pathak’s case, for example, companies were offering to sell him an entire enterprise resource planning or ERP software whereas he just wanted something to keep track of the admissions process.-

“Our basic ERP offering starts from Rs 25,000 per month, for three users. If you were to buy and install it on your premises, you would have to shell out Rs 10 to 15 lacs immediately. Besides, you would also need to hire an ERP professional to manage the application,” points out Srikant Rao, President and CEO of Bangalore-based Affordable Business Solutions (ABS). Interestingly, Srikant competes directly with Microsoft’s business of selling such software by renting out the same software ‘in bits and pieces’. The Microsoft ERP software that Srikant ‘rents out’ is the same product that its maker sells for the full price.

It is still early days in the business. From a vendor perspective, Indian companies are yet to make themselves heard, examples like a2z notwithstanding. Indian SaaS companies are few and far between. Even global biggies like the customer relationship management service vendor salesforce.com first looked at India out of necessity rather than choice.

The challenge for us platform developers is to maintain this balance between ease of development and power.

Kantanu Kundu
CEO, a2zApplications

“We first looked at India because a lot of our customers from the US also had offices in India,” says Aaron Katz, VP with salesforce.com, which has 47,000 companies worldwide as its customers. “Now, we are processing about 1000 leads a month in the country.”

Hard numbers are difficult to come by in this nascent industry. According to market research firm Springboard Research, the SaaS market in India is growing at an average rate of 77% and will reach $ 165 million (Rs 700 crore) by 2010. By that time, the Asian market will have expanded to around $ 1.16 billion (Rs 5,000 crore), comprising 15% of the total enterprise software market.

Those in the business see an even more significant impact. “Right now, people talk of the SaaS wave,” says Srikant of ABS, “but by the end of three years, 60 to 70 percent of all enterprise software sold would be as service, not as a product.”

Kiran Datar, MD of WebEx, which provides on demand, web based video-conferencing services says. “Earlier, we used to look at IT as a cost. The CIO’s department was a cost centre. Today, he has become more important. He has become a business enabler, a revenue enabler. From being just a necessity, he is now a key player in ensuring the organization’s competitiveness,” he points out.

Bottom fishing
The early adopters of the technology so far have been the small businesses, typically those who have not already invested in buying software. And it’s very early days yet.

“Most of our customers are still struggling with Excel and Word,” says Kantanu Kundu, CEO of a2zApplications, who has a distinctly SMB focus to his offering. “A large number of SMEs, even those with Rs 100 crore turnover in a year don’t know what an ERP (enterprise resource planning) software is. I have seen companies with Rs 50 crore turnover doing all their accounting on complicated Excel sheets,” he adds.

He further adds, “We don’t try to educate them about ERP or ask them to install it. If it’s a college that wants to monitor its students’ progress, we provide a service that does that. We do not try to sell them something they don’t want. We charge for very specific benefits that we offer.” a2zApplication have clients from publishing houses to hospitals to educational institutes.

Srikant of ABS, the company that is both a competitor and a partner to Microsoft, says the service-based approach is very much focused on the ‘S’ part of the SME pie. “Of course, Microsoft itself is trying to sell those software as a product, so in a way, we are competing with them. But what I point out to them is that we are mainly targeting the Rs 10 or 50 crore companies. These are companies that would normally not deploy ERP software, such as the ones Microsoft, SAP and Oracle sell. At the same time, by making their products available to these companies through the service model, we are enlarging the pie for everyone.”



Comments (7)Add Comment
air jordan shoes
written by air jordan shoes, May 14, 2010
Your article is very good, I am interested in
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need a projects
written by kumaryadav, January 24, 2010
This is kumar from bangalore iam running BPO the process is automobile form filling process, now we are looking for new projects, if any body can guide me in getting the project it would be of great help and we are ready any process , help me in this regards kumaryadav.S@gmail.com 8147294756
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Customer Support Automation on SaaS
written by Shishir Jain, November 07, 2009
SaaS is revolutionizing how Software is used and delivered. The time to get started is reduced to hours. It has brought to the reach of a small enterprise the benefits, which were earlier restricted to large companies only.

We have large customers like Cisco Silver partners using it to manage complete customer support on SaaS, as well as small 10 people companies.

Take a look at http://www.netcellence.in/ for our product offerings.
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برامج
written by برامج, July 15, 2009

This can be useful if you need to empty a database in order to restore a backup made by mysqldump, but you couldn't use --add-drop-database because you don't have CREATE DATABASE privileges on the command line (e.g. you're on shared hosting). mysqldump adds DROP TABLE by default, but if tables may have been added or renamed since the time of your backup (e.g. by some sort of update process that you're trying to revert from), failing to drop those tables will likely cause serious headaches later on.
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COO
written by Akshay Shah, July 04, 2009
You can also look at www.iweb.co.in. It has all the SaaS ERP offerings.

Akshay.
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...
written by Business VOIP, January 19, 2009
a2z, like a few others in the business offers software on rent. So, instead of buying the products at one go, you pay a fixed ‘rent’ for using it. Besides, you don’t have to take the entire product on rent, only the parts you need. In Pathak’s case, for example, companies were offering to sell him an entire enterprise resource planning or ERP software whereas he just wanted something to keep track of the admissions process.-

I think this is a great concept, you are very smart business men.
How do I contact you for further information?

-JenCAN
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...
written by Business VOIP, January 19, 2009
"You said --->The early adopters of the technology so far have been the small businesses, typically those who have not already invested in buying software. And it’s very early days yet."

Do you see it growing to where larger companies would implement this?
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