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FAST ROI: InterX Net2020

Bloor puts it through its paces

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Return on Interest is the latest tech magazine phenomenon in the US. At a time of folding titles and staff cutbacks, two magazines have launched recently in the States, joining Computerworld's ROI.

We thought we'd get in on the act. In the UK, Bloor Research, a partner of The Register and owner of the IT-Director.com and IT-Analysis.com web sites, is an longstanding practitioner of ROI analysis.

By way of experiment we are republishing a http://www.it-director.com/fast_roi_home.php">Fast ROI report from Bloor. Depending on your feedback we may republish more.

We are kicking off with InterX, a British company, quoted on the London stock market, which transformed itself from a computer distribution business, into a purveyor of a big content management systems (far too expensive for us, but used by Silicon.com and CW360.com).

InterX is attempting once again to transform itself and its prospects with a product called Net2020. Here is what IT-Director has to say.

Company Name: InterX
Classification: Web integration, portals
The Product/Service: InterX Net2020

This is a software product that enables multiple disparate web applications to be combined into a "single view" portal - known as a netHome. The netHome is integrated with other online business applications through the use of HTTP and HTTPS protocols and a tagging language. This ensures that any combination of internal and external web sites and services, known as netFriends, can be brought together.

The whole Net2020 solution comes with a collection of tools for building and managing the solutions as well as metrics and reporting tools for keeping track of the integrated services. The key to the capabilities for Net2020 is that it appears the netFriends and behaves as an ordinary browser. It is then able to deliver the content on a variety of wireless, digital and online channels.

The Business Opportunities

  • Enable successful online partnering by rebranding, repurposing and repackaging content and transactions from third-party partner sites.
  • Rapid integration of business units as a result of mergers or other operational change.
  • Reduce costs of sales systematically by integrating and tuning call centre and web selling processes.

The Business Benefits

  • increase business control from accurate multi-channel management information.
  • Improved customer satisfaction through consistent user interfaces, single login process and choice of client devices.
  • Increased revenue from customers with stronger cross-selling opportunities, greater brand recognition and better understanding if user activity.
  • Savings from reuse of existing web applications, centralised management and reduced fragmentation

Time to Implement

The expected implementation time is of the order of two months. This is possible because it builds a framework around existing applications and services and so the requirement is to build the forms and interfaces that can bring these all together into a single consolidated view. Mostly, these tasks will be relatively easy. The only potential time delay would come with very complex integration requirements that demand the development of EJB components.

In-House Requirements

Net2020 is, in effect, a code-free solution. The only requirement for code would be if a very complex interface needed to be developed and this might require access to Java components. In most cases these will already exist and can be referenced.

Therefore, the only requirements for a Net2020 solution would be to able to design and pull together the portal environment for multiple web applications. InterX does need a Sun platform upon which to run Net2020.

Entry Costs

The typical entry cost is of the order of £100k.

Estimated Payback

Some of the payback comes from intangible sources such as improved customer satisfaction and increased lifetime or reduced maintenance of web applications. The evidence so far is that the resulting improved online experience is helping to migrate more buying activity online thereby reducing call centre costs.

The netHome becomes the packaging for the corporate solution and so branding issues, look and feel and the business logic can be held within the portal. This saves the effort being directed to older solutions that may be more difficult or riskier to change.

The integration of applications brings payback in two ways. Firstly, the consolidation of user control and access as well as the centralisation of content and data brings about a significant reduction in the costs of management and administration. There are also efficiency improvements that come from the integrated environment.

The other payback comes from the increased opportunities for selling or promotion. Simply by combining information from multiple sources within the portal single view, it is possible to provide users with opportunities to buy related products or to up-sell.

InterX has a reference customer, MORE TH>N from Royal & SunAlliance, which is generating £100k of extra profit per month through the use of a Net2020 portal.

The key sources of payback at MORE TH>N are:

  • A rapid shift of buying activity from the call centre to online
  • The fact that click-to-call (now on every page of the site) is capturing buyers who would have otherwise abandoned completely
  • The impact of rapid decisions on what to promote and how to tune online advertising/bought-in content costs - thanks to new and comprehensive management information.

Customers

MORE TH>N from Royal & SunAlliance

Competitors

Bowstreet; web programming toolkits

Analyst Comment

Anything that integrates disparate applications or information is going to provide rapid payback. In this case, that payback should be easy to achieve simply because the effort required to develop the Net2020 solution is relatively small. With an entry cost of around £100,000 and with an allowance for two months worth of education and services, we can probably put a realistic estimate of £250,000 on the actual cost of a corporate implementation.

That may sound a lot but, compared to the original costs of developing the web applications, this is quite reasonable. What is more, InterX is allowing businesses to maintain their investments in these very expensive web applications and services by extending their lives and incorporating them into a dynamic environment. Suddenly, business change does not have to cost a fortune in application changes.

The other opportunities come with the ability to link applications together into new business logic. This ensures that customers get a better view of products on offer and can see related information and make better-informed purchases. Better-informed customers are usually happy customers who are willing to part with their money. MORE TH>N has already proved this concept.

Finally, the cost savings associated with consolidation and integration don't really need to be explained. It's cheaper!

So, mix costs savings with increased sales opportunities, dynamic business change with intuitive interfaces and you get a responsive business with happy customers. ROI is definitely there but will it be fast? Almost certainly.

© IT-Director.com. All rights reserved.

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