- Digital Imaging Technology Leaps Into the Realm of 3D!
- A Talent Assessment Tool That Connects Many Eco-system Dots
- “Across the world, thousands of people are giving birth to what I call an ‘Empire of One’”
- Turning Job Seekers Into Job Creators
- BlogertizeWorld: Where Each Pixel Means Business!
- Innovations That Power WebEx’s Online Meeting Solutions
application applications based best business companies company content cost customer customers data development different does firm future good high important india indian industry information innovation internet just like make market mobile model need needs network people platform product products research says security service services social software solutions start systems team technologies technology time today used user users using work world
Here's a Web application that claims to offer multiple enterprise management tools on a single platform. We take a close look at the product and explore the technology that drives it!
As the market talks about ‘recession proofing', here is a tool that offers an integrated, customised and hassle-free IT environment to enterprises, and that too on a subscription basis.
A2zapps.com-a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform-lets businesses automate their operations across the board or for select departments. It offers business software (CRM, ERP and other IT enterprise solutions) on a subscription basis. The service is offered in much the same way telecom vendors provide telephony services to their subscribers - users just need to pay a monthly subscription fee. The service is entirely available on the Web and does not require any server installation or front-end programming at the customer's end.
It's different, and how!
Pointing out the difference between A2zapps.com and other SaaS offerings, Kantanu Kundu, CEO and chairman, A2zapps.com, says, "Most of the SaaS products available in India either focus on a specific application or vertical; or are hosted models (single-tenancy), with limited customisation. The rest are headquartered outside Asia and require major technical skills to customise as per customer needs. But to get started with A2zapps.com, at the most, one needs to know Java Script and HTML (no Java/C++ programming is required), even if the customer needs heavy customisation."
Kundu says that the majority of the IT enterprise solution providers have tweaked their existing on-premises models to fit into the hosted/SaaS model. In some cases, they lack true multi-tenancy. While in others, the software has been built to work on a LAN (local area network) and, therefore, is too bulky to be able to provide fast access on a WAN (wide area network) link. But A2zapps.com has been built on the SaaS (multi-tenant) platform (any apps) architecture from Day One. The extensibility of the platform provides customers the flexibility to add new applications as they grow. So users can start with minimum functionality, improve usage and then start adding other modules without any extra cost. In fact, the pricing for subscriptions and for customisation has been done keeping the Indian SME (small and medium enterprise) segment in mind and is not a global dollar pricing like that of most MNC software providers in India.
High on usability
A2zapps.com provides a comprehensive set of applications that are interlinked and can help organisations to use it for their group companies, as well as every single department within each group company like HR, sales, support and operations. The highlight of A2zapps.com is its simple screens and tabs, and its ease of use, says Kundu. "The product is ideally suited for the Indian emerging enterprise space that often lacks IT skills...and needs systems that are easy to use, and are completely hassle-free," he adds.
The application offers the ability to import and export data, and reports in the most commonly used formats like spreadsheets. In addition to all these, labels for menus, fields, and reports can be named according to the organisation's naming conventions, thereby making it user-friendly. The product currently supports various verticals like education, healthcare, professional services, logistics services, real estate and construction, hotels, manufacturing, and non-profit organisations. One of the early users of the application, Capt R K Mittal, MD, MAHAN Institute, says: "The platform has allowed us to integrate many activities at our centres in the Delhi/NCR region, thereby providing the best collaborative environment at an affordable cost."
IT's all about usability and security!
The product offers a completely proprietary environment, developed from the ground up. The platform uses a few open source software applications at the back-end. The service offers a standard SLA (service level agreement) to its customers related to aspects like usability and uptime.
But how does the platform ensure 100 per cent uptime? Kundu explains: "A2zapps.com has one of the top Level-3+ compliant data centres in India, and owing to its high availability environments, allows the platform the flexibility to commit uptime to customers. We have subscribed to an unusually high bandwidth for higher data flow speed between the Internet and data centres. To date, we have not faced any challenges or outages regarding uptime and availability and our users are usually happy." The platform has a dedicated team for customer success management (CSM) to monitor customer issues closely and resolve them in the best possible timeframe. The service also provides a basic level of support to each and every user in order to ensure higher satisfaction levels.
Since security is the biggest customer concern when it comes to sharing data over the SaaS platform, Kundu affirms that security is dealt with at various levels. Security need not be a technology challenge alone; it is also a people and process challenge, he feels.
The physical security and security processes are implemented at the host's side. The company also shares best practices with its clients for customer-controlled security mechanisms. Kundu reveals other security features of the application: "Our data centre servers cannot be used or accessed by anyone and are protected through usage of smart gadgets like any Level-3+ compliant secured data centre. We also use 128-bit encryption technologies to encrypt the data that flows between the server and user's Web browser. Besides, our employees do not have access to customer data, unless authorised by a customer during the process of issue resolution. So when A2zapps.com personnel log in as the super user, they can only see the configuration and customisation related data (meta data) and can create test data to test out customisation."
How it all began
What was it that led to the development of this platform? Kundu recalls, "When I was consulting for PeopleSoft for its online CRM (customer relationship management) back in 2000, and later working for Salesforce.com in the US, I wanted to take this online model to the next level by introducing a common business platform instead of providing SMEs with a specific online application. Being an Indian, I knew that SMEs in India could not afford different applications from different vendors. I was looking for a name that would be easy to remember and reflect the business model itself. I wanted to add a dot (.) to the name of the company to reflect the delivery model."
Kundu and his colleagues undertook an analysis that showed that while there was a huge need for business applications in the SME segment, these requirements differed across organisations and there was no single product that could suit all of them. So the company was formed with the intention of creating a product that could fit every business need for enterprises of every size. The team was aware that this was not an easy job, considering the huge SME base in India, but what drove team members was a belief that a product like A2zapps.com could take it to the next level, and help it create one of the next generation of Indian enterprises.
The A2zapps.com team today comprises, Kantanu Kundu (CEO, chairman and founder), Ranjeet Bhatia (director-Operations & Foundation, and co-founder), Surajit Sinha (chief customer and product strategy officer) and Pranab Bhuyan (COO and EVP-Corporate Policy, Law and Strategy). And they have every reason to be proud of their creation.
Satisfied customers are the best advertisements!
The growth of broadband and its stability has made almost every SME use computers and the Net today. This fact is propelling the success and popularity of SaaS. Sensing this trend, the A2zapps.com team has also built its marketing strategy around this model. Kundu explains: "We believe in the concept of ‘customers getting customers', and trust that no benchmark speaks better than a bunch of satisfied customers.
"Our competitors are large and have deep pockets; hence, the traditional models of marketing in a huge and unstructured market like India obviously couldn't have been the best way forward for us. Therefore, our strategy has been to make every Indian SME excited and believe that their long wait for a complete business application with no IT hassles, is now over."
Innovation is at the core of each of A2zapps.com' endeavours. Kundu points out, "Today, we have won awards and accolades from prestigious bodies, for our platform. However, we feel innovation is not just about technology-it's about fresh ideas in every field like marketing and customer success management."
The team, as part of its founding philosophy, lays stress on innovation and strives to build a culture within the organisation that helps every individual to contribute ideas.
Plans for the future
A2zapps.com presently has its office in Delhi but intends to open offices in other locations as well, as part of its expansion and diversification strategy. There are plans to go to locations where SME clusters are stronger compared to the traditional metro cities. Kundu affirms, "Our strategy is to be where the customers and businesses are."
The A2zapps.com team has clear short-term and long-term goals. In the immediate future, the team wishes to lead the SaaS revolution in India, as it is one of the first to offer a SaaS platform. The aim is to go to all Tier-I, and some of the Tier-II, cities and raise its revenue to $ 2 million by 2010-11 in order to reach a break-even point.
As part of its long-term goals, the company wishes to be one of the global leaders in the SaaS space and enlist 100,000 paid subscribers in the next five years (by 2013-14). The company also has plans to go public by 2013-14, and is looking to build a collaborative eco-system within the ‘SaaS community' and spread awareness about SaaS and its benefits in all developing countries.
Kundu also offers a few words of advice to those with entrepreneurial ideas up their sleeves: "Focus on the need in the market, on solving the customers' challenges, and on making the customer successful; and your success would automatically follow."
Now, you cannot get more customer-driven than that. A2zapps.com is clearly flourishing by making its customers kings.