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HCL Agora ; Software Services – The Big Picture

HCL Agora ; Software Services – The Big Picture
Vijay Rao | June 12, 2010

Services today is a key undercurrent that has been quietly but surely changing the way business is done. I cannot think of even one sector where some facet of business has not been touched and transformed from a services stand point. Be it the way essentials are consumed, like electricity, water, gas, etc or the way software products are consumed or the manner in which services are being bundled with even OEM offerings.

For starters, services brings to the table a paradigm shift in the way business is done. Services facilitates greater flexibility to the consumer. It empowers them on two primary axes: One ‘consume-when-needed’ and two ‘pay-only-for what-is-consumed’. In other words it lets enterprises move from a CAPEX (capital expenditure) intensive mode of consumption to an OPEX (operational expenditure) oriented mode of consumption.

HCL  noticed this game changing trend and has been investing in solutions accelerators to help our customers embrace and walk the software services path quickly and efficiently. One such solution accelerator is AGORA – a comprehensive solution geared towards adoption of services driven business. To understand AGORA’s fitment, lets continue explore the trend a little deeper in terms of its effect on today’s enterprises

From a technology perspective, we have been witnessed the services impact the enterprises in the following ways.

  • ISVs are under market pressure to stop selling licenses and move to a services model. Software as a Service (SaaS) has been the name of the game for ISVs since the last couple of years. Google/Microsoft/Zoho offering Office Suites on SaaS models, Adobe offering PDF conversion service on demand, the likes of YouTube, Flickr offering photo manipulation capabilities on their websites without the need to install software on your local computer are all examples.
  • OEMs are also beginning to feel the need to bundle services along with their core products to avoid the path of getting “commoditized”. Players from across the globe jumping into OEM space and leveraging their geo specific advantages to drive costs down are turning this market into a red ocean. Nokia sells smart phones and so do a dozen others. Dell sells laptops and so do a dozen others. The only way to stay ahead of the pack in a red ocean is to differentiate and create a blue ocean for oneself. That’s precisely what Apple has done by linking every iPhone, every iPad, every iPod sold to the iStore and Appstore, online portals to  buy music and nifty little applications to work on these devices. Nokia is attempting to do the same via its Ovi Store concept. What Apple and Nokia have done is create an ecosystem where services can be accessed by the end consumer depending on their needs and pay for what they consume.
  • With more devices getting connected to the network a whole new opportunity is emerging for the device manufacturers to obtain information about devices when they are on the field and to deliver new innovative services on those devices and create new business models around how devices / consumables / supplies are sold

This is where AGORA – A Next Generation Services platform to Enable, Deliver, Aggregate and Distribute Cloud/M2M services steps in.

Firstly, the platform offers the core engine for a software product to embrace a subscription based service model. Going a step further it also enables other third party services on the cloud to be aggregated and distributed. This is targeted towards the ISV segment. AGORA offers

  • Automated System and Application Provisioning,
  • Metering, Pricing and Billing the transaction data,
  • Integrated Service Bus technology for seamless Back Office Integration,
  • Customer Lifecycle Management,
  • Services Lifecycle Management,
  • Partner Management and Channel Enablement,
  • Payments Processing,
  • Integrated Web and E-Mail Campaign Management
  • Customer Care and Support
  • Delinquency Management

Secondly, it  also acts as a platform to create a services ecosystem around OEM products. AGORA powers New Business and Service Delivery Models by enabling automated exchange of information between devices and a centralized infrastructure. It provides for additional features over and above the ones listed above which are equally applicable to the OEM space

  • Device Management
  • Device Connectivity
  • Rule Engine

Developed on a open system based architecture, the solution is application server agnostic, database neutral and protocol independent.

Creating a services ecosystem around products is the wave of the future and any enterprise that spots the trend in their domain early enough would reap the benefits. We envisage at least three benefits that would accrue to our customers on account of AGORA adoption

  1. Enhanced market foot print – expanded customer base and offering
  2. New monetization opportunities – new business models, with access to downstream revenues
  3. Enhanced customer loyalty via broader ecosystem services

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