Industry-backed effort to boost ASP industry

Would making sense of the often chaotic IT industry boost the performance of the industry as a whole? Thereseems to be a resounding yes coming from the newly formed ASP Alliance Committee(AAC) at the pressbriefing of its September 1st launch this afternoon.

Would making sense of the often chaotic IT industry boost the performance of the industry as a whole? There seems to be a resounding yes coming from the newly formed ASP Alliance Committee(AAC) at the press briefing of its September 1st launch this afternoon.

The list of initial members making up the AAC's executive committee reads like the who's who of IT industry in Singapore: CalendarOne.com, Cisco Sytems, Ecpod.com, eGain Communications, Hewlett-Packard, iASPire.net Pte Ltd, Microsoft Singapore, Symix Singapore, PWR Powerlan Singapore, Progress Software, Solomon Software, Sun Microsystems and Starhub Internet.

As the chief speaker, Mr. Leong Han Kong, Chairman of ACC's first executive committee, pointed out, this is a well-rounded grouping with representatives from different sub-sets of the industry, from hardware and software to capacity providers.

Also on hand at the launch event today, was Dr Kaizad Heerjee, Honorary Member of AAC and assistant chief executive, Online Development, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, who voiced the support of the Singapore government for the initiative.

Wilson Tan, Vice President and Managing Director of Software AG Asia Pacific, and Chairman of Singapore IT Federation formed the third member of the penal.

In brief, the AAC is an ASP focused group formed under the Singapore IT Federation(SITF) with the explicit purpose of bringing industry players together to facilitate partnership and advancement of ASP industry in Singapore. It's official launch date is the 1st of September this year.

It is a move by SITF to capitalize on the advantages of the ASP model which promises to make IT cheaper, more user-friendly and also more easily customized for individual client.

"As players in the industry," said Leong, in a released statement, "we recognise and are very excited about the promise of the ASP model that companies will have continous access to the latest technology without the risk and costs involved in developing and maintaing the IT infrastructure. Though still in its infancy, ASP's will potentially reinvent the way business is conducted and change the entire way technology is embraced by end-users in enhancing business processes."

According to an IDC report, the global ASP market is now worth US$300 million this year and is expected to go up to $2 billion by 2003.

Plagues of the Industry
Local enthusiasm about the concept is strong, according to Leong. Signing up at ASP's, however, remain at an ebb as SME's here are still new to the IT industry and are skeptical about outsourcing a prominent aspect of their business.

The main obstacle, it seems, is a lack of awareness about ASP and what they do. The AAC plans to address this issue with marketing campaigns and a planned web-site that will contain information about ASP services.

Lack of awareness, however, is just half of the story. According to Leong, the industry is also plagued by a lack of standards and unity with companies sprouting to offer differing standards of services and what's worst, different language to describe their services.

Not surprisingly, points two and three of the AAC Charter sets out to promote a standardisation of terminology and to define minumum service levels that all members must meet.

As Leong argued, "The ASP market is becoming increasingly fragmented with the daily influx of new players, all with differing messages and service levels, which may end up impeding growth. There is an urgent need for the industry to have some form of standardisation and for ASP's to speak with one voice."

The Charter
The AAC rolled out a seven points charter, namely:

  • Develop and promote the ASP industry in Singapore with the eventual objective of exporting services throughout Asia Pacific
  • Educate local enterprises, especially small and medium enterprises, on the benefits of the ASP model and the selection of suitable ASP services for their business
  • Promote the standardisation of terminology.
  • Define appropriate minimum service levels that all members must meet.
  • Create a meeting ground where SI'x, telcos, ASO's, hardware and software providers can collaborate to bring competitive ASP services to market.
  • Create business opportunities for AAC members.
  • Provide feedback with regards to how governmental policies can help develop the ASP industry in Singapore.