Communications, Financial Apps Popular Among ASP Users

Communications, financial/accounting, and e-commerce offerings remain the most common types of applications being accessed from an application service provider (ASP), according to a survey by Zona Research commissioned by the ASP Industry Consortium.

The “Zona Enterprise Usage Study (ZEUS) Application Service Providers Report:(Q4 2000)” used a sampling of 137 senior and executive level managers and IT professionals in the US who have purchasing authority for, or involvement with, general office productivity or software, and who have indicated that they are either currently using ASP services or plan to in the next 12 months.

Most Popular ASP Applications
Application Percent
Communications 33.6%
Financial & Accounting 24.8%
E-Commerce 21.2%
Customer Service/CRM 19.0%
Education & Training 18.2%
Human Resources 13.1%
Project Management 9.5%
Sales Force Automation 8.8%
Personal Productivity 8.8%
ERP 3.6%
Virtual Trading Communities 3.6%
Supply Chain Management <1%
Multiple responses allowed
Source: Zona Research/ASP Industry Consortium

Communications applications — such as email, messaging and groupware — were cited by 33.6 percent of the respondents when asked what types of applications are currently being accessed from an ASP. That was followed by financial and accounting applications at 24.8 percent; e-commerce (including catalogs, transactions, and billing) at 21.2 percent; customer service or customer relationship management (CRM) at 19 percent; education and training at 18.2 percent; human resources at 13.1 percent; project management at 9.5 percent; sales force automation at 8.8 percent; personal productivity (word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.) at 8.8 percent; enterprise resource planning (ERP) at 3.6 percent; virtual trading communities at 3.6 percent; and supply chain management at less than 1 percent.

The commonality of use of application sets remained largely consistent throughout the four quarters that the tracking survey covered.

“One measurable benefit of using ASPs is that they allow end users to focus their IT resources on their core competencies rather than worrying about things like whether everyone’s email is up and running,” said Sheila Lugenbuehl of Hewlett-Packard, the chair of the consortium’s Research Committee. “That benefit certainly seems to be borne out by the results of our tracking surveys.”

The top-line benefits of ASPs also appear to be emerging among end users, according to the survey. For each of the first three quarters, respondents cited a reduction in the total cost of ownership as the leading factor influencing the ASP purchase decision. While cost still ranked as very important, more respondents in the fourth quarter survey cited the fact that ASPs enable them to focus on achieving strategic business objectives, as well as enable them to more quickly implement new applications. Also cited more often than cost was the fact that ASPs allow for the freeing of IT resources to focus on internal mission critical applications.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • Security remains the number one concern among respondents when asked to rank the importance of potential issues that could arise from using an ASP. Some 61 percent ranked “security of my data may be compromised” as the most important potential issue, followed by “unacceptable application performance” at 53 percent. Those findings remain relatively unchanged from the first quarter 2000.
  • The vast majority of customers remain satisfied with their ASP services, as reflected by the 92 percent who answered in the affirmative when asked if their current service level agreement (SLA) meets their needs. That finding was reinforced by the average response time for the ASP to address support issues. Thirty-five percent said the response time was between one and four hours, while 32 percent said response time was 15 minutes to one hour. Another 17 percent put response time at less than 15 minutes.

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