Software, On Demand
Applications Service Providers (ASPs) are going to directly affect the ways you buy and use software forever. And they're not too far off in the distant future.
To explain the ASPs' potential impact, let's generalize the current climate with you as a software user.
Let's say you buy a license for seats of a program from a software company or a reseller. You get the program and load it onto the network or hard drive of the applicable computers along with the appropriate security measure. When the software company issues a new version, you update the seats after receiving the upgrade. And so on.
Now, think of the ASP model as the "time-sharing" of software. ASPs will make the software available for your use over the Web (through a site or over a secured line) whenever (or only when) you need it. You'll buy the software based on a "time" or "per use" basis directly from the company or reseller. No installations will be necessary. Security will be handled not through a dongle but via a password account and related measures. As an approved user, upgrades, maintenance, custom features and scheduled enhancements will be provided seamlessly when you log into the software, not as a shrink-wrapped package.
The ASP model might also offer some unexpected solutions to existing challenges. Allowing users to pay only when they use the software (per hour? per model?) may open up pricing opportunities for many users outside traditional markets. And ASPs might certainly offer new training opportunities to students and corporations alike.
ASP models will likely affect shops most positively within CAD/CAM- and Shop Control/ERP-rich environments.
Like it is with any other new technology, there will be a shakedown period for the pricing and applications of the ASP model. It'll take some time to work out the bugs. But you should watch and prepare for the impact this feature from the software developers and distributors will have on the ways your shop floor works.
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