Auckland software company exo-net has won a major licensing deal to provide its software online to customers of St Georges Bank in Australia.
The bank is the major sponsor of an exonet-built portal which will target chartered accountants with access to financial information and software tools. The hope is that accountants will then recommend the portal to their clients - small and medium-sized businesses - who will choose to use exo-net's online e-business software.
Simon Butler, general manager of exo-net Australia, says the aim of the bank is to build stronger relationships with accountants who are the most trusted advisors of SMEs. By SME, Butler is referring to companies with a annual turnover of $A1 million to $A100 million.
Exo-net New Zealand general manager Steve Reiger says the local operation has no plans to build a portal but is talking to banks in New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
"Telcos and banks are going to become ASP providers. All the banks are developing strategies around ASP world," says Reiger. "Banks see themselves as transaction processors. They can offer small businesses cash books and foreign exchange. If they're an ASP they can provide all these transactions and take their little piece."
Exo-net is not an ASP itself, but will provide software to ASPs. It is in talks with several ASPs in New Zealand and is having its software accredited by Unisys for its ASP division.
Exo-net technical director and founder Mark Loveys says exo-net's ASP architecture was a major reason why Australian accounting software company Solution 6 bought it last year. Solution 6 underwent significant restructuring last year after suffering a dramatic drop in profit. The company bought 15 firms over a short period under former chief executive Chris Tyler.
Exo-net has a three-tier architecture - database, application processing middleware (both of which sit on the ASP side) and the client, which is a Windows application. Loveys says exo-net rejected the idea of developing an HTML-only client because it wanted a client that could easily integrate with other Windows functions and applications.
"For example you can plug into a printer or interact with an email system easily. It's one of the silly things that gets overlooked when people try out HTML applications." Reiger claims that because you don't need the overhead of running another operating system on the server as you have to with Citrix, you can get up to 20 times the number of users on the server. Thus making it cheaper.