Applicast Inc. is taking a new approach when pitching its enterprise application service provider services to potential buyers. Next week, the startup ASP will launch its FastPack services for both SAP and Siebel System applications.
The new service package is designed to address business-process functionality within the applications. Applicast, concentrating on two vertical segments, including high-tech manufacturing and distribution as well as Internet-based businesses, has developed pre-configured, pre-integrated versions of Siebel and SAP E-business applications. By focusing the company's attention on these specific segments, Applicast is able to develop a series of frameworks relative to each industry's focus, says John McGrory, the ASP's CEO.
"The framework is a combination of processes and infrastructure consistent enough for us to do on a repeatable basis for every customer as well as flexible enough for customers to specify how their business processes work," McGrory says. In the manufacturing space, for example, there are a number of ways in which information can be exchanged between manufacturers and their contract manufacturers. Applicast will provide three or four different templates a customer can choose from that will stipulate how that information is exchanged. Applicast has also customized Siebel's customer-relationship management package to reflect each specific customer service and salesperson's role within a typical manufacturing or dot-com business. By doing so, Applicast says, the service is much cheaper then hiring a systems integrator to create a highly customized solution for a customer. At the same time, McGrory says, the company's templates offer enough customization to create a package that solves business problems.
Analysts agree. "Applicast is raising the bar a little bit in terms of what an ASP looks like," says Joshua Greenbaum, a principal analyst with Enterprise Applications Consulting. "ASPs started out touting applications hosting, where Applicast is making a case that's more about business process and services, which is what customers have been asking for."
Applicast's services don't come cheap, however. In addition to license fees that can range from $2,000 to $5,000 per seat per application, the company typically charges $15,000 to $25,000 a month in service fees for 25 to 50 seats. McGrory says discounts apply for customers purchasing more than one application. On the bright side, implementation costs, including those associated with setting up a frame relay or virtual private network, are included in the service.