PwC offers apps on tap

Consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has launched a set of tailored ASP solutions for the Australian mid-market, leasing business applications such as CRM, supply chain, financials, human resources and e-business software.

PwC is offering applications based on the products of SAP, PeopleSoft, Oracle and Siebel. Mark Easton, ASP leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he considers the applications to be the highest pedigree solutions for the middle market, which he defines as those companies with revenues between $100 million to $500 million in industries such as manufacturing, retail, mining or the public sector.

PwC is offering a range of service-level agreements ranging from 5 x 8 (Monday to Friday, 9 to 5) to 24 x 7 x 365. It is also promising cost-of-ownership savings within three to five years. Easton said the company is vendor-neutral when putting together a package for a company, but generally the smaller solutions are based on Windows NT and larger ones on Unix.

PwC has already been running a managed applications business for around two years that has been slowly introducing customers toward an ASP-style system, but the packages announced last week represent the group's first major push into the ASP channel. Easton said that there are already a few clients signed up, but the customers are still in implementation stage and not operating at full-scale as yet.

Initially the ASP offerings are based on a one-to-one model, where each customer owns their own set of servers and databases. When questioned as to whether this would achieve the efficiencies the ASP model is hyped to offer, Easton said he has no doubt PwC will eventually move to a one-to-many model as the market develops.

"We offer the software, implementation, hosting infrastructure, network connectivity and software maintenance," he said. "We are approaching this with flexibility -- the package will be able to adjust to the various segments of the market. I like to use the analogy of Pizza base and toppings. The Pizza base is your solution and the topping is how you would like it delivered, such as whether you want to own or rent the software or the hardware."

Easton said previously there were technological barriers, then capital investment barriers, and the interruption of Y2K and GST all hampering the Australian ASP market. He is now confident the time is right for Australian business.

"It's really encouraging for us to see companies knocking down the door to do this," he said.