Here is part two of my summary of the book. Why Buy the Cow?, by WebEx leader, Subrah Iyar with my friend Cindy Gordon. This second section of the book, written by Cindy Gordon and Heidi Collins, covers six case studies of innovative companies who successfully implemented on-demand solutions. They include the following.
NetSuite – provides a single integrated business application to run an entire small to medium sized business (SMB) as an “on-demand” application – accessible over the web. It was founded in Silicon Valley in 1998 by Evan Goldberg and Larry Ellison. NetSuite expanded beyond its accounting roots to include ERP and other stuff. In 2005, it was was the twelfth fastest growing software company in the United States (Inc. Magazine). They have now moved to vertical market solutions. It is like SAP for the little guys without the need to implement any software.
RightNow Technologies – provides customer experience management, an attempt to go beyond CRM. It was founded in Bozeman, Montana by Greg Gainforte. Now I have always thought CRM was kind of lame so this is a good idea. They offer knowledge to support online customer interactions. This was one of the most successful applications of knowledge management that I observed so I can see how this might be a good thing.
Lulu.com – was used to publish the book. It was founded by Bob Young, co-founder and former chairman of Red Hat (1993-2000). As I said in the last post, they are an example of how the concept of software as a service has extended itself into services as a service. Lulu.com publishes books on demand at a reasonable cost to authors, making “self-publishing” much easier and speeding the time to market for books by placing the editorial responsibilities on the authors. It goes beyond books to offer images, multimedia, and music.
Shared Insights – provides social networking software and services to support private online communities that are populated by customers, employees, partners, and/or investors. It was founded by Barry Libert and operates in the Boston area.
ChinesePod – an OnDemand Training (ODT) solution operating out of China was founded by Ken Carroll with Hank Horkaff in August 2005. They provide a daily podcast service to facilitate the learning of Mandarin Chinese. They are generally in the top five of the world podcast rankings at Yahoo.com. The website gets over fifteen thousand site visits every day with majority of subscribers in the US. With the rise of the Chinese market this is a growth market. Teachers teacher utilizeuses blogs and podcasts to create a direct teaching environment for students based on topics the students submit. The podcats themselves are free, and PDFs of session transcripts and learning support materials are sold on a subscription basis, and a premium service gives even more stuff. The growing library of topics is them available for students to cusotmize their curriculum. Here is a nice summary on Read/Write/Web - ChinesePod - Great Example of a Small Niche Web Business.
WebEx - is the common name associated with web-based meetings as has become a verb and a noun for the concept. They sponsored the book and there is good explanation of how they want to expand beyond their initial market to become a robust collaborative work space build on an on-demand platform. They now want to integrate with mainstream enterprise applications to create a more unified working experience and enable business users to take advantage of composite applications (e.g., mashups).
Each case study ends with useful CEO lessons learned as they conceived and created their on-demand company. I wrote the third section, Web 2.0: Building Communities, Holding Conversations that I will summarize in the next post. Here is a recent review of Why Buy the Cow? by Paula Thorntom on the Fast Forward blog,