iemagine is Ready to Rent

“Luckily, no one gave us $100 million to buy glass conference rooms.”

While many ASPs are lamenting the loss of the days when “ASP” was the hot ticket to quick venture capital, Internet business service provider (BSP) iemagine is welcoming an economic climate where business models are taken seriously, and people are willing to take the time to see the value in different hosted application models.

“We’re finally feeling synergy in the rentable Webware marketplace. When ASP took off last year, we fell under the umbrella. Everyone else was talking about five 9s, data centers, and enterprise apps — we didn’t fit in,” Bob Curry, CEO and CTO of iemagine, told ASPnews. “Luckily, no one gave us $100 million to buy glass conference rooms.”

Horizontal, Yet Vertical
iemagine is a Web Service independent software vendor (ISV) based in Chicago that develops Web-based applications based on the Lotus Hosting Management System (LHMS) platform. The iemprove Webware Suite is made up of about 20 horizontal apps, ranging from on-demand rentals of survey, auction or event management applications to long-term hosting of full suites of sales or customer relationship (CRM) applications.

iemagine also works with vertical market ISVs to take their offerings to a rentable model, then combines those with its horizontal applications to create a full suite for markets like manufacturing, healthcare, banking, real estate or insurance. iemagine is also focusing on international markets, making the suite available in 15 languages. It’s also working with partners like AT&T to wireless-enable its suite and develop the best solutions for the next wave of technology.

A Three-Prong Strategy
“Our plan is first, to be a developer of Webware applications; second, to be a publisher; and third, to be a distributor,” Curry told ASPnews. “On the development front, we’re always adding more applications. We’ve just added 10 in the last few months. As a publisher, if there’s a product that’s already rentable from a company that might not have the reach to a global market, we’ll bring it in. Our goal is not to rebuild an application set that’s already out there.”

iemagine is not interested in making an application rentable simply because it’s possible — it has to be an application that people would be interested in renting, Curry said. “Some applications just don’t make sense to rent — you wouldn’t want to take word processing off the desktop.”

As a distributor, iemagine has developed a reseller package called iemprove ASP, designed to allow ISVs, ISPs and others to become an ASP by hosting the iemprove Webware Suite on their own servers. “Most business partners can’t jump into the ASP business,” explains Curry. “It’s very expensive to get into it on their own, and it’s a whole new culture they know nothing about.”

Some analysts classify iemagine as an IBSP — Internet Business Services Provider. In May 2001, Laurie McCabe, vice president and practice director of Summit Strategies’ Hosted Applications and Service Providers practice area, named iemagine one of the Top 10 IBSPs.

Summit Strategies defines IBSPs as firms that “have developed 100-percent native Web services solutions, ready for rapid self-service deployment, designed for fluid upgrades and developed to take advantage of volume economies.”

The iemprove Webware Suite is easy to implement and deploy from a Web browser. Business users can customize iemprove applications for deployment worldwide over the Web. And for users who prefer to host solutions in-house, the applications are “convertible” to standalone software.

The company has reached a stage where it is comfortable with its breadth of applications, and will focus on improving them. “At this point, we’re looking toward taking the ones we have and integrating them together, to share data between applications,” he said.

Even though it has grown considerably even in the past year, the rentable applications concept is still not as well known as the broader concept of ASPs, according to Curry. “We’re still in the stage where we have to preach the religion. Most people don’t know it’s available.”

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