Enterprise resource planning vendors are "creating products that are delivered anywhere in the world and that will provide compliance and standardization for the automotive community," according to Charlie Eggerding, vice president, automotive, for QAD. What's now notable is that user companies no longer need an extensive computer infrastructure. All they need are desktop computers that can run a Web browser and that can hop onto the internet. Sound familiar? Think "application-service-provider (ASP)-meets-Web-portals." Called "Software as a Service" (SaaS), in this new approach to ERP, software is provided as a utility, priced like a utility, and delivered as a subscription service.
An ASP is a form of outsourcing. What is outsourced--or hosted--is computer infrastructure, including computer hardware for data processing and storage, systems software, related hardware and software maintenance, as well as software applications of particular interest. The ASP customizes these applications, whether ERP, enterprise asset management, financial, or whatever, for the user company.
ASPs wind up with multiple instances of an application, generally one for each of their customers, and each of those instances may be customized for each of the different customers and even for multiple sites of the same customer. Maintaining different versions of software (i.e., version control) is typically a very costly internal IT expense. In an ASP arrangement, user companies generally buy and capitalize the software, and then pay for the infrastructure over time.
In SaaS, more commonly known as the "on-demand" model, many different companies run off one copy of a software application. Unlike the ASP arrangement, user companies don't have to buy the software. Instead, they generally pay for the software application based on usage--just like electric, gas, and water utilities. Usually this "utility" is accessed through a Web browser, though some SaaS providers require client-side software of one form or another.
And automotive companies are signing on to SaaS, just as are others in other verticals.
Source: CRM Buyer, http://crmbuyer.com
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