The second building block is to create a Web Services API (application programming interface), so that other developers can build Lego-like enterprise software applications on top of the operating system. By building to a standardised base platform, the smaller software companies in India can use their domain expertise to fabricate components which have reuse value and thus can generate additional revenue for them also. This creates the hardware-software mix necessary to build a positive feedback cycle.
One aspect to be kept in mind for the applications in the notion of multi-modal access. Traditionally, information has been fetched through the same interface that it has been updated. Going ahead, information may been updated and accessed through any interface – web browser, email, instant message or an SMS via a cellphone. This portends a much bigger change than may seem apparent – it means that information, alerts, notifications can be sent to a user anytime and anywhere. This is, in the words of Vivek Ranadive, “the power of now”. This is the key to the creation of the real-time enterprise.
The third building block for the enterprise solution is a software subscription business model. Instead of paying high upfront costs for the purchase of software, enterprises should be able rent it for monthly payments.
This takes the trend in software to its logical conclusion and can help put Indian companies at the forefront of the new emerging business (in much the same way NTT Docomo leapfrogged over much of the world with its i-mode service). Software subscriptions are the only way software can be made available and affordable to the mass market of small and medium enterprises.
The fourth building block is the NTT Docomo-like Service Operator, who as the aggregator and the intermediary can pull all the players together and build this into a virtuous value chain. The enterprises servers are like the handsets (or the game consoles) and the software vendors are like the content providers (or the third party game developers. The service operator builds the relationships with the SME, with a key aspect of this being the ability to collect monthly payments for the services. The operator is the entity which needs to define the Web Services APIs. This is where the control, lock-in and long-term value lies for the operator.
There are over 25 million SMEs in the world. More than half of the world’s workforce is employed in these enterprises. SMEs are the real engine of growth for the world economy. By learning from some of the consumer success stories and envisioning the changes happening in the world of computing, communications and software, it is possible to create a profitable business meeting the evolving needs of the world’s enterprises and building the next-generation powerhouse: the SME Tech Utility.