Maverick ASP finds niche solution

With sound strategies and strong solutions to niche industrial automation needs, a Singapore ASP proves itself locally and looks to playing in the regional field.

"It is such a natural progression," said Steven Mun, CEO of Xponet, about one of the three branches of services its company offers, "I wonder why nobody else have thought of doing it before."

He was talking about the B2B e-procurement application, Xpoprint, which since its launch on 31st May this year had gathered a list of 1200 registered users of whom 20-30% are frequent users.

Adoption rate does not seem to be an issue with this application service provider (ASP)...or perhaps it was, right at the beginning when Xponet was poised to market it to businesses in Singapore.

"We do understand the rate of adoption of Internet procurement," said Mun, "and that we have taken into consideration."

To tackle the problem head on, Xponet followed a simple strategy of identifying and targeting industries that may be early adopters by virtue of the volume of routine printing that these industries are involved in.

"We looked at financial companies, shipping companies, logistic companies, all these are industries that have large volume printed materials," said Mun.

The strategy seems to have worked for the company. With a revenues amounting to about 3/4 of a million dollars per month - you would have to agree.

Mun estimates the list of its clients to be a 50-50 mix between MNCs and mid-size SMEs.

"MNCs tend to adopt this technology more aggressively than SMEs," said Mun, "the reason is that automation tend to benefit them more than smaller enterprises by cutting down on time spent on the process and having to hire someone to oversee it."

Xpoprint works on two models. With one, a straight forward application hosted over the Internet, takes care of all routine and repetitive printing needs of an enterprise. The other is an exchange model that caters to non-repetitive printing jobs such as brochures, newsletters and annual reports.

Xponet's penchant for automating industrial processes didn't stop with print. Just last August, not three months after the launch of Xpoprint, the ASP set out to do the same for the exhibition industry in Singapore by rolling out Xpomatrix, an application aimed at automating processes between exhibition organizers and exhibitors.

Traditionally, liaison between exhibition organizers and exhibitors involves a tedious process of submitting exhibition requirement through an exhibition booklet that is faxed between organizers and exhibitors. In total, the number of forms that are required to be filled by each exhibitor can be as many as twenty.

That's a lot of information to manage, for the organizers, especially if the exhibit is a big one, involving 200 to 300 exhibitors.

Xpomatrix takes it all on-line, by providing a platform on which the information can be submitted and managed.

By logging on through the Internet (in case anyone forgets, Xponet is an ASP), organizers will be able to see what information have already been collected and exhibitors can get status updates of their submissions.

In addition, contractors attached to the organizer can also log on to the same platform to access information about the area of their work.

The adoption of Xpomatrix, again, seems natural. One major exhibition in the last month, ZDNetAsia's IB2000 had already used the platform. According to Mun, 5 to 6 shows are already secured for the coming months.

Like Xpoprint, Xpomatrix's marketing targets initially at the larger, MNC organizers who are likely to benefit more from the technology and therefore adopt it more readily.

"The bigger the show, the more efficient or the more obvious the benefits that you can derive from the system itself," commented Mun.

Of the 100 to 120 shows that are put up in Singapore every year, Xponet plans to capture about 40 - 50 % of them.

For the future, Xponet is poised to be a regional player with plans to expand into Malaysia and Hong Kong by next year.

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