Providing Self Service to the Business

Michael Vizard

One of the things that made Dell so successful is that it pushed the configuration process out to the customer. Instead of trying to package various components together to meet some perceived need, Dell lets the customer configure systems any way they want within a broad range of parameters.

Now, what would happen if companies across the landscape could apply those same concepts to the products and services they sell? That's the thinking behind a set of product-configuration and price-quoting applications delivered by BigMachines.

Using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, said company CEO Godard Abel, allows companies' internal sales representatives or the customer to configure product and services themselves. Dell spent billions of dollars building out this kind of capability, but BigMachines charges about $75 per user per month or, in the case of end users, some percentage of the value of the overall transaction generated on the system.

IT organizations are struggling in many cases with how to create self-service applications by extending enterprise applications themselves. BigMachines provides a way to do that using a comparatively low-cost approach that accomplishes the mission without having to rewrite all the underlying enterprise applications. So on occasion, there is a very real advantage to being late to market when it can mean cashing in on pioneering business concepts developed by companies such as Dell at a fraction of the cost.

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