UK business is ready for online application hosting and those providers who are not ready to meet that need could miss the boat.
That is the message from KPMG - but most vendors are in no hurry to offer services in the UK.
"There is a huge opportunity. There are a lot of small to medium size businesses that would love to implement ERP systems, and, given the opportunity to rent, many will jump at it," claimed Paul Witting partner in charge of the SAP practice at KPMG.
"BT is the first one to go down that route, so it will be ahead of the game. Once interest picks up, vendors have to get there sooner rather than later," he added.
BT announced last month that it would be providing companies of 20 to 500 employees with the facility to rent their financial, payroll and sales force automation, human resources, customer relationship management and logistics applications online, hosted by BT server farms.
Research group IDC is predicting that the market for high-end application service providers (ASPs) will reach #1.2 billion by 2003, but research due for publication later this month has found an embryonic industry with little evidence of hosting services available in Europe as a whole and in the UK in particular.
BT's announcement hasn't yet stirred any of the global players into UK action. Only three of IDC's hot tips for ASP market operate in the UK.
Two of those, IBM Global Services and EDS, have no plans for UK trials this year. The third, Oracle, will introduce a trial sometime this year.
"Potentially there is a substantial market for these services in the UK, but the UK market is very conservative," explained Rob Wirszycz, director of marketing strategy at EDS. The concept of online applications would have to be proven in the US before it would take off in the UK mid-market, he said.
But for the moment EDS and IBM will continue their trials elsewhere in the world, while keeping a close eye on BT's progress.
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