SaaS Studied, Palm App Study, NSPI and Microsoft, SPS, XO and NEC, Openbravo

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

SaaS Studied, Palm App Study, NSPI and Microsoft, SPS, XO and NEC, Openbravo

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an Elvis twofer -- first the best complete album The King did, the last time he ever sounded like he was really trying and not just milking it, 1969's From Elvis In Memphis, followed by 1977's My Aim Is True by the second greatest Elvis in pop, Mr. Costello:

No, not everybody falls in love with SaaS: Gartner has released a study finding that the increasingly mainstream Software as a Service underwhelms many customers: "The apparent acceptance of SaaS as a viable model has not entirely translated into satisfied users of SaaS."
Overall, organizations are "somewhat satisfied" with SaaS, giving it a tepid average score 4.74 on a 7-point scale. The survey was conducted in December 2008, which may help explain why some folks were grouchy as the economy was not, ah, rosy at the time. It looked at "users and prospects" of SaaS in 333 enterprises in the United States and United Kingdom.

When asked to identify the top three factors that they would consider in making their decision to deploy SaaS, meeting technical requirements was the top overall consideration at 46 percent, followed by security, privacy and/or confidentiality at 33 percent and ease of integration and functionality needed for business unit owners, both at 29 percent.

"Our research findings did not exactly provide a ringing endorsement of SaaS, in fact I would go as far as to say that satisfaction levels among SaaS users are little more than lukewarm," said Ben Pring, research vice president at Gartner. "Although macroeconomic factors would seem to favor SaaS providers, almost two thirds of respondents said that they planned only to maintain their current levels of SaaS in the next two years."

While a healthy 58 percent of organizations will maintain current levels of SaaS in the next two years, Gartner found, 32 percent will expand, five percent will discontinue and five percent will decrease levels.

Those who "considered using" SaaS, but decided not to, cited high cost of service, difficulty with integration and the product not meeting technical requirements as the main reasons. As Gartner officials noted, "these findings contradict the general impression that SaaS could help alleviate costs and also that it does not require much integration and technical requirements."

"At a time when SaaS is becoming more of a consideration for more enterprises, the results of this survey will be somewhat disquieting for SaaS vendors," says Twiggy Lo, principal research analysts at Gartner and First Coffee's new favorite principal research analyst name, adding that vendors must reaffirm the fundamentals of the SaaS model -- that SaaS solutions are "lighter, simpler, more intuitive, more agile and more modest."

The report, "Dataquest Insight: SaaS Adoption Trends in the U.S and the U.K.," is available on Gartner's Web site.

More studies: Strategy Analytics Wireless Media Lab has released "Palm App Catalog: Intuitive UI, Appealing Content but Lacks Volume," finding that the Palm App Catalog has "a visually appealing storefront that offers users an intuitive user interface and straightforward search feature," as well as a simple download process.

However, "while the App Catalog contains desirable and recognizable content, the volume of content overall is lacking" thinks Paul Brown, Senior Analyst in the Strategy Analytics User Experience Practice.

Christopher Dodge, Analyst at Strategy Analytics, noted that while the download process is "logical, allowing users to get content in one click," the purchase details of content are "not clearly defined, leaving users unsure if they are downloading a trial version of the item or the complete version."

Strategy Analytics officials say the Boston-based firm "focuses on market opportunities and disruptive forces in the areas of automotive electronics and entertainment, broadband connected home, mobile & wireless intelligent systems implementation strategies and high frequency market intelligence.

Evidently the SaaS story is still a good one for some firms: Roswell, Georgia-based Network Services Plus Inc., seller of technology services, has added Microsoft CRM to their suite of Microsoft Hosted Solutions. 

NSPI officials are bullish on SaaS, saying they expect hosted services to represent 25 percent of all new business software purchases by 2011.

"We offered our first Microsoft Hosted Solutions in 2008," says Tim Roe, Sales and Marketing Director for NSPI, adding that the firm has found "great success" with the offerings, saying adding Microsoft CRM was a response to "customer demand for faster deployment and easier management of applications."

Microsoft Hosted Solutions already available from NSPI include Microsoft Communication Services with applications like Outlook Services for e-mail and Windows SharePoint Services for collaboration and Office Communication Services for company communications for office and mobile employees. Those wanting the whole buffet can get the jumbo deluxe Hosted Business Productivity Suite, which has Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Instant Messaging, Microsoft Office Live Meeting and a side order of fries.

Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce is also putting eggs in the SaaS basket. The SaaS "trading partner integration center provider" says more than 1,000 companies using Sage MAS 90, Sage MAS 200, and Sage MAS 500 ERP have subscribed to its outsourced supply chain integration services, resulting in "more than a million business documents electronically in the past 12 months."

SPS Commerce's Electronic Data Interchange and label services can be integrated with MAS 90, MAS 200, and MAS 500 systems to eliminate pesky manual order entry and fulfillment processes. The idea, of course, being to "improve accuracy, boost customer satisfaction, and provide timely communication of purchase orders" and other groovy things up and down the supply chain.

"Suppliers using Sage Software's ERP have been automating how they send and receive supply chain documents using SPS at an increasing rate," says Archie Black, President and CEO of SPS Commerce. "Volume from our current Sage customer base is up 16 percent."

SPS Commerce officials claim 37,000 customers and pre-built integrations spanning 2,700 fulfillment workflows across 1,300 retailers, grocers and distributors.

XO Communications and NEC Unified Solutions have announced that NEC's UNIVERGE SV8100 and UX5000 communication platforms are now certified to work with XO's Session Initiation Protocol trunking solution, XO SIP.

Launched in the spring of 2008, the UNIVERGE SV8100 and UX5000 communications servers have experienced "wide adoption and deployment" by NEC's dealer network and customers, company officials say, adding that the certification confirms that the NEC SV8100 and UX5000 communications servers and XO SIP play well together.

Eric Hyman, director of managed services at XO Communications, says that the idea behind the interoperability of XO SIP and these NEC's communications systems is to let businesses deploy and manage end-to-end IP communications using NEC's systems coupled with the XO SIP service.

It's being pitched as a budgetary answer too: "As SMBs nationwide look to curb operating costs in today's economy, they should consider the combination of XO SIP and NEC's UNIVERGE SV8100 and UX5000 communications servers," says Jay Krauser, general manager of core solutions and engineering, NEC. 

XO SIP uses Session Initiation Protocol signaling and a native IP-based facility to manage all traffic between a customer's IP-PBX system, the XO IP network, and the Public Switched Telephone Network. It includes such bandwidth options and features as dedicated Internet access with dynamic bandwidth allocation, unlimited local calling, unlimited site-to-site calling for multi-location customers with IP Flex, IP Flex with VPN and XO SIP locations and online feature management through the XO Business Center.

Openbravo, a developer of Web-based open source Enterprise Resource Planning and Point of Sale products, has announced a new partner program.

"The demand for open source applications such as ERP is growing" among organizations of all sizes, according to company officials, explaining that Openbravo's partner program is "designed to enable community members and new partners to get up to speed." 
The four different levels of partners are Registered, Certified, Gold, and Platinum. Benefits naturally are tiered according to "commitments such as Openbravo certifications held, customer references, and customer retention," Openbravo officials say.

Barcelona-based Openbravo says in the past year it's "expanded into new markets across the world." Put First Coffee down for the next community meeting, the Openbravo World Conference in Barcelona, one city at the top of the See Before You Die list. 

Cees Poortman, VP of Global Commercial Operations of Openbravo, said the company has "never seen such a great demand for open source ERP: the opportunities are there for our partners, and we are there for them."

Openbravo's commercial open source business model "eliminates software license fees, providing support, services, and product enhancements via an annual subscription," company officials say. The company is venture backed and has received record funding in the Open Source ERP space from Amadeus Capital Partners, GIMV, Adara Venture Partners and Sodena.

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