In the strongest endorsement of the ASP (application service provider) model in New Zealand yet, services firm Datacom is working with three technology partners to offer services across the Web to the 5500 members of the Employer Manufacturer's Association.
Datacom, the Employer Manufacturer's Association, Ernst & Young and Tenuteq — formerly Masterpak — have formed a partnership around a CRM (customer relationship management) offering. Microsoft is also involved as a technology provider.
The organisations presented their offering to local businesses last week after working on the project for several months and already three companies have expressed interest, says Tenuteq sales manager Helen Robinson.
EMA business development manager Deborah Holmes says by next week these companies should confirm their interest.
"We are going to work closely with those companies to explore their business needs and pilot it next week," she says.
"We are EMA northern so we've gone out to about 150 member companies now.
"Once we know the pilots are working we will go to market to all of our members.
If the pilot is successful they will launch it to the rest of the 5500 membership early in the new year.
"Within four weeks we are hoping to do the business investigation — understanding their business requirements. In six to eight weeks we will look to have a structured model in place for implementation" and go live following that, says Holmes.
Holmes says people have been interested in the concept "as we're leading the ASP model with CRM, which brings cost-efficiency within the business but is also revenue generating. It also sits over the top of any existing systems."
These major players have joined because of "the business relationships the EMA has with each company", says Holmes.
"Datacom's input is very important as they bring the hosting part of the database to the consortium.
"They are very powerful within the business and are New Zealand owned. They are also very forward-thinking."
"Tenuteq is a very important strategic partner as they are our preferred supplier of the CRM product we have just bought — US-based Pivotal. Ernst &Young is also involved because of the connection between Microsoft and Tenuteq as Pivotal needs a Microsoft platform to operate.
"In terms of a consortium this isn't a separate organisation being set up. The actual financial partner consortium is happening between EMA, Tenuteq, Datacom and Ernst & Young. They are putting a financial model together," says Microsoft's business solutions group manager, Terry Allen.
"Microsoft's role is primarily as a techno-logy provider. We're the underlying techno-logy provider and enabler for Datacom to be able to implement the solution — due to the Pivotal software being used.
"Microsoft has a very strategic relationship with Pivotal," says Allen.
Greg Magness, managing director of New Zealand-owned Datacom Services — which boasts more than1100 staff — views the consortium "as an exciting opportunity for the company. It's a market space that Datacom's been involved for some time.
"What we are seeing now is the key dominant players in the industry making major inroads into this area," he says.
Magness believes Pivotal "leads all of [the CRM products] in a price:performance ratio."
The initiative came about when Michael Murphy from Ernst & Young, the manager of entrepreneurial services, talked to EMA's CEO, Alisdair Thompson, about the architecture and framework of the ASP model, says Holmes.
"EMA is a great leader in this as we have a large membership base. What we're doing from an EMA perspective is delivering a value to members, but providing CRM systems that would normally be out of [our members'] reach at a cost-effective price. So we're giving them access to large CRM systems ... that would otherwise be out of their price range," says Holmes.
The figures that EMA have put up so far are a cost of $20 per user per week.