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IT Industry Teams to Form Forum of ASP in India

In a bid to jump-start India's fledgling ASP business, information technology industry heavyweights in India have teamed up to form the Forum of Application Service Providers in India (FASPIN), an independent, non-profit organization to further the knowledge, understanding and adoption of the ASP model in the Indian marketplace.

However, the impact the forum will have on the ASP business in India will be predicated on its ability to attract a larger number of ASPs into its fold. As of now the only pure-play ASP in FASPIN is the initiator of the forum, Intelligroup. Other founder members are representatives of hardware, software, and ASP infrastructure vendors such as Compaq, Microsoft, Citrix, Ariba, and Hughes, and Hyderabad-based venture capital firm, Ideas2Dotcom Ventures Limited.

According to Tarun Rana, corporate head of marketing at Intelligroup Asia Private Limited, the founder members consist of "thought leaders" who also bring the various components of an ASP solution. Ariba for instance brings to the association its experience in e-business applications components. "Our role is to support the objectives and vision of FASPIN. Specifically we bring in tremendous experience in the eProcurement area where Ariba has very successful ASP deployments in US," said Margabandhu Ganesh, Ariba's managing director for South Asia. "Some of the areas where we can share knowledge include the revenue model, knowledge base, and Ariba Supplier Network."

Rana estimates the ASP business in India will touch Rs 13000 million (approximately US$300 million) by the year 2003. The ASP business in India has however a long way to go to achieve the target. Although the large number of small and medium enterprises in the country is an evident attraction, most aspirants to the business, including Intelligroup and SAP, have moved with trepidation. "The market is not educated, and people worry about the infrastructure. Concerns also vary depending on which segment of the market you are in." said Anil Bakht, chairman and managing director of Eastern Software Systems Limited (ESS) whose ERP application, Makess on the Net, has been hosted by some ISPs in India.

The role of FASPIN is hence to promote the ASP business by educating potential customers through its web site (www.faspin.com). The site is to be designed as an interactive educational tool and knowledge base for ASP players. Further additions to the site, said FASPIN sources, would provide access to secure group discussions and updated news about of the happenings in the ASP industry. "If ESS gets associated with FASPIN, ESS will support its activities in terms of spreading awareness, education and quantifying benefits to users," explained Bakht.

Lobbying government is unlikely to be an important component of FASPIN, according to Rana. Nor is it desirable, said Bakht. "Internet infrastructure has to be improved, but this is better left to the larger organizations like the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI)," he added