Convincing potential customers that it's safe and prudent to hand over their business data is a challenge for any ASP, let alone a start-up.
At a Glance
Appjuice, an Amsterdam, Netherlands-based ASP, is hoping to sidestep the problem neatly by enabling customers to host their own data if they wish, making it a "dataless ASP."
The company supplies its customer relationship management (CRM) solution to medium-sized companies in the European telecom, insurance and financial services markets using Ontario, Canada-based Nortel Networks' Clarify platform and analytical and real-time personalization software from San Mateo, California-based E.piphany.
The 'Not with My Data' Objection
Worries about handing over data to any third party can stem from a number of reasons: legal obligations, security concerns and the desire to ensure data remains accessible even if the ASP fails, Bart Voorvaart, Appjuice's founder and CEO, told ASPnews. "We say to customers that if they want to keep their data on site, they can leave it there it simply doesn't matter where the data is. If customers want to keep their own data we make a link between them and our data center." Application performance is affected by only a few milliseconds when data is hosted externally, he said.
Appjuice's staff is mainly drawn from the banking, insurance and telecoms industries and the company has only one field of expertise CRM because Voorvaart believes that the key to success using the ASP model is a high degree of specialisation. "Domain expertise is very important, and you can only win if you are focused in one vertical and one application," he said. Appjuice plans to exploit the one-to-many model, offering Clarify and E.piphany from a single server while maintaining separate databases for each client.
Appjuice's ASP deals with Nortel Networks and E.piphany give the company access to the packages and underlying technology to rent out applications using the ASP model. The two will be integrated into a single solution that Appjuice will market under its own AppSolutions brand.
Voorvaart believes the two products provide about 80-85 percent of the functionality Appjuice's customers will require immediately, the remainder being provided by developing extra features or through customisation or configuration. Basic functionality will be deliverable in a timeframe of about 30 days, he said.
The company will charge an up front implementation fee, a monthly per user fee for Clarify and a monthly per company fee for E.piphany. This hosted solution will be 30 percent cheaper for customers than buying and implementing the software in house, Voorvaart said.
The company uses the 7M Aspire user and billing platform developed by Norway-based SevenMountains Software AS, enabling it to identify registered users and analyse CPU, bandwidth and data usage per customer
In the short term the company will concentrate on building up a client base in the Netherlands using its own direct sales force. Voorvaart also says there is an opportunity for Nortel's and E.piphany's sales teams to refer companies that are too small to buy the software packages outright to Appjuice for an ASP solution. Further out it will take on sales staff in other countries across Europe to address those national markets.
Appjuice uses a data-centre in Amsterdam managed by UK-based Ebone a division of Global Telesystems. Its platform runs under AIX on IBM B80 (formerly RS/6000) servers using IBM DB2 databases. The company currently employs four business and technical staff people and three sales people. Appjuice has no customers as yet but Voorvaart expects to sign up four, with an average of 100 end users each, by the end of the year. The company expects to be profitable by the end of 2002, he said.
Reprinted from ASPnews.com.