BT offers online applications for UK companies

BT has launched a unit promising to deliver "big-business functionality" to small and medium-sized enterprises.

BT has launched a unit promising to deliver "big-business functionality" to small and medium-sized enterprises.

BT has put together an offering for SMEs that links NetLedger's online application suite and a policy management product from Orchestria.

The BT group, called Open Orchard, hopes to attract more than 12,500 customers within five years, said Yvonne Thomas, its chief executive. There are more than one million SMEs in the UK.

"We want to deliver big-business functionality to all small and medium-sized businesses," said Thomas.

Open Orchard has signed a five-year deal with NetLedger for an exclusive licence to offer the NetSuite and NetCRM products in the UK, said NetLedger President Zach Nelson.

NetSuite is an integrated application suite accessed via the Web that companies can use to perform tasks including accounting, inventory management, customer relationship management and running an online store. NetCRM offers only the CRM functionality.

The announcement marks the first move outside the US for the company that is majority-owned and chaired by Oracle chairman and chief executive officer Larry Ellison.

"Marketing and sales are major issues among UK SMEs. It is difficult to deliver national or local class marketing if you don't have the systems, and off the shelf it takes a lot of time to install," said Thomas. A typical UK SME has an accounting package in use, but no CRM or sales force automation software, she added.

The UK version of NetCRM is due out in January with NetSuite, scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2003. Hosting and management of the software as well as the help desk have been outsourced to PinkRoccade

Open Orchard will start offering Orchestria's Ensure product from today. The "active policy management" product analyses and implements policies determined by the user and is the same as the one Orchestria sells to Fortune 1000 companies, said Thomas.

Read more on IT for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

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