Technology


This morning, I was talking to a friend of mine who is doing his Executive MBA. He was mentioning during the conversation that one of his friends is really bent on joining an analytics company and his interest levels in that are very high. Apparently, he has tried with most known brands in analytics and he hasn’t been lucky due to various reasons.

On hearing this, I casually mentioned why doesn’t he look at starting a boutique analytics firm and he can target the small retail units. I really wasn’t talking about the largest airline companies or retailers or the software companies of the world. I was talking about companies that can act on the findings immediately.

In fact, this is going to be the next wave and there are already a few established players and as a necessary evil, all the top IT services companies are setting up a practice to tap into this space. I believe with India as the market, it would be the boutique firms that would win the business, for they would be cheaper and make analytics actionable with the local market knowledge that they have. To top it, analytics requires knowledge about Mathematics, Business and Technology. India has the knowledge in all the three areas and also the scale.

Time for the analytically bent to start the boutique firms.

Delivering ERP on a SaaS model is great and offers enterprises of all sizes a viable, scalable and flexible model, which provides a lot of benefits to users. Gartner predicts that nearly 30 per cent of new license purchases will be in the form of SaaS or will be delivered using SaaS model. IDC predicts a growth rate of 40% in SaaS model.

Looks very interesting but Is SaaS for everyone? No hardware costs, no software costs, no upfront license costs, less training needed, short implementation cycle, accelerated ROI, vendor managed hardware maintenance, upgrades and software maintenance. The advantage of going the SaaS way is just too many. However, it still may not be for everyone.

How do I figure out if SaaS is for me or not? If your needs for business management software goes anything like this, then it is not for you:

  • I have complex or very specific business processes
  • I have well established business processes that I cannot change
  • My business model keeps changing and is constantly evolving
  • I am a mid-market company or I am a large-sized company
  • I need to integrate my business management software with legacy applications
  • I need absolute control over whatever I do
  • I am very paranoid about security

The implementation costs of an ERP are expected to be in the range of $3 to $10 per dollar spent on the software itself. When you consider ERP implementation, there are obviously more ways to fail than to succeed, most projects require years of tweaking, support costs are prohibitively expensive and can be ten times the cost of software.

Implementation costs gets allocated towards training, integration, testing, data conversion and data analysis and none of this can be ignored if you are looking at a system that can deliver the business benefits of implementing an ERP system. The significance of each of these activities is defined thus:

  • Training – employees have to learn new processes and not just a new software interface; talks about change management and is typically 10% to 15% of the total budget
  • Integration – it is not easy, for links have to be built between ERP and other best-of-breed systems on a case-to-case basis
  • Testing – has to be process driven; use real-time data preferably with real employees who would be using the system and the same volumes as expected
  • Data conversion – the most underestimated cost activity and even the best of data needs changes to match process modifications necessitated by ERP implementation
  • Data analysis – reports in ERP packages needs to be combined with goals, budgets etc. to make business meaning and this cost is more often than not overlooked

After all, the cost of ERP software is only a fraction of the total cost of the project.

Most enterprises consider business applications to be their priority. Enterprises haven’t given importance to becoming information-centric all these years but it is visibly changing. Priority business applications are ERP, business intelligence and accounting apps.

Primarily, these business applications have helped organizations convert ‘unstructured information’ into a ‘structured format’ that allows for easier management of business critical information. But, organizations have realized that this alone is not enough and there is a lot of knowledge that is available in different forms and buried in different processes across the organization. It becomes imperative for them to manage such content and capture knowledge to be efficient in their business.

This has prompted many enterprises to look at text mining tools that would allow them to do in-depth mining of ‘unstructured text’, both online and offline information, and convert them into actionable inputs for enterprises. This will include customer complaints, call center transactions, email communication etc. Though, this certainly is a few years away for this to become an enterprise priority.

Enterprises definitely have a taken a step in that direction where information-centricity will be sought, with other business applications and data mining application.

ISVs that engineer enterprise software face a number of challenges with respect to flexibility, scalability, extensibility, availability, performance etc. In my mind, the top three challenges that enterprise software face today are:

  • Integration with third party software and IT systems
  • Transaction types from different data sources and support for disparate client types
  • High-volume transaction capability

If a software is architected keeping in mind these three challenges, most issues related to the enterprise software will cease to exist.

There is an exciting event siliconindia is organizing on June 6th (Saturday in Bangalore). It’s by far the largest and most exciting event of its kind in Bangalore.

It is your chance to know the building of companies like rediff.com, naukri.com and tejas networks as their founders come and share their journey with us. Additionally there will be 100 most promising technology startups showcasing their products. You can meet these entrepreneurs and also over 40 investors. To attend this event, register free at http://www.siliconindia.com/startupcity_09/index.html

Adding a few more:

  • Watch live product demonstrations
  • Get a peek into cutting edge technologies
  • Lay hands on the best-of-breed solutions
  • Meet young, energetic and passionate geeks
  • Experience the culture of innovation in small companies
  • Visionary keynotes
  • In-depth panel discussions

Time: 8.45 am to 5 pm; Date: June 6, 2009, saturday; Place: Nimhans convention center, bangalore (near dairy circle)

I’ve been following this company dimdim for sometime now and it is getting better and better. I wrote a post earlier where I was suggesting that they should position themselves as a Live eLearning Platform with the features that they have. They have gone a step further by providing integration with Moodle, an Open Source Learning Management System. Moodle and dimdim dancing together will be irresistable. The reviews that I read about dimdim’s integration with moodle are also excellent.

I also see a number of projects displayed in sites like rent-a-coder, getafreelancer etc. where the requirements are integration of Moodle and Dimdim, Moodle+Dimdim+Joomla etc. There definitely seems to be a active community that has been positioning Dimdim pretty well. I would love to hear and write about the initiatives that dimdim has been taking with respect to their positioning.

Essentially, at this rate dimdim would become a necessary backbone of any unified communication strategy of enterprises.

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