Singapore startup offers 'COO services' to help SMBs manage cloud

One-year-old cloud consultancy Alpha7 launches COO as a Service to provide a one-stop platform from which SMBs can access cloud applications and services, including bundles designed for verticals.

Singapore startup Alpha7 has unveiled a new service to help SMBs (small and midsize businesses) adopt cloud applications and services from a one-stop platform, including bundled packages designed for vertical markets.

Speaking to local media Tuesday, founder and CEO Lynette Seah said the new Chief Operating Officer as a Service (COOaaS) offering was designed to help SMBs access the applications they need to support their operations and better realize returns on investment (ROI) from their cloud adoption. Singapore defines SMBs as enterprises with fewer than 200 employees.

Noting that few small enterprises have the luxury of employing dedicated COOs, Seah said the new offering service aimed to take over this role as an outsourced service and ensure SMBs had the right people, processes, and tools in place to adopt cloud efficiently.

She added that many smaller organizations still did not have the proper infrastructure in place to do so, pointing to her experience interacting with potential customers. Seah founded Alpha7 a year ago, after spending eight years at Salesforce.com where she was Asia-Pacific vice president of finance and strategy.

The Singapore startup provides consulting services including assessment, design, and technical implementation for SMEs looking to deploy cloud. It currently has 16 clients in Singapore and the region, including secretarial business services provider Boardroom, loyalty app developer Perx, and healthcare services provider Parklane Medical.

Alpha7's board advisor Alvin Kok said: "The company was founded to provide strategic consulting and technology blueprint for SMBs to adopt cloud. We then realized a lot of organizations were still unable to get ROI from their spending on cloud because they didn't have the processes or people in place.

"There was a need to help companies transition [to the right cloud strategy], which led to the launch of COOaaS," said Kok, who was also at the media briefing.

COOaaS is touted as a one-stop online platform from which SMBs can pick the cloud applications they need to support their operations. It includes "industry bundles" that feature applications and services that cater to about 30 specific verticals such as healthcare and financial services, Seah explained.

Kok added: "We will work with cloud vendors to offer their apps on our platform and guide SMBs in deciding what they need to get the quickest ROIs for their business."

Alpha7 currently works with 20 to 25 partners including Salesforce.com, NetSuite, vTiger CRM, and SugarCRM, and will have another 50 partners offering their applications on the COOaaS platform.

The startup is aiming to secure better rates from their cloud partners through economies of scale and pass on that savings to COOaaS customers, which will pay monthly subscription fees based on the apps they use. They can also choose to engage the vendor on a retainer or project basis.

According Seah, COOaaS will be spun off as a separate entity in the first half of 2015, following plans to raise S$1.5 million (US$1.13 million) to S$3 million (US$2.26 million) in Series A funding. This investment will support product development and recruitment as well as expansion into the region, specifically, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia, she said, adding that Alpha7 currently has eight employees.

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