British computing took a step back in time last week as BT announced a hosted applications service for small and medium sized businesses.
The new BT BusinessManager service echoes the mainframe bureau services of yesteryear in its offer of financial and payroll services to companies of 20 to 500 employees. The services are based on SAP software. BT also has plans to provide sales force automation, human resources, customer relationship management and logistics, using software from other companies.
Ironically, BT has been criticised in the past, by vendors such as IBM Global Services, for creating an impediment to applications hosting by refusing to reduce the price of bandwidth (see PC Week, 8 December 1998).
Hosting in the US is a more viable proposition because bandwidth is cheaper, with many vendors, like Microsoft and Oracle, working in partnership with the larger ISPs.
BT denied that it would benefit from being both the telecom company and the service provider. The quarterly rental charge of the hosting service will not include charges for use of BT's phone lines, which will be charged at local rates.
"BT has you twice, first for the value of providing the service, second for the value of providing the telephone service. The telephone companies call it sticky minutes, keeping customers on the line as long as possible," commented Andy Mulholland, divisional director at Cap Gemini.
SAP rival JD Edwards is shortly to announce an initiative that will offer its entire OneWorld suite of products as a hosted service.
- More enterprise news, p30.
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