Outsourced product development (OPD) space is a differentiator in the choc-a-bloc IT world where specialists like Aspire Systems operate. “When a company decides to use the services of an outsourcing firm to develop its software products it is always aware of what it needs. Hence players in this space have to have an understanding of the market needs. This is where we come in. We are aware that we have entered the market which is still a bawling baby and hence to mother the potential is our chance,” says Gowri Shankar Subramanian, CEO, Aspire Systems.
The chance has been opened up with the practices of the big players in the software industry. “Twenty years back IBM never outsourced any of its operations to third party vendors. However now it is outsourcing bits and pieces of its PC development work to external subcontractors,” reiterates Subramanian. Though the bigger players right now are content to just part with peripheral software development work to outside parties, the start ups have embraced to outsourcing their product development work end-to-end. This would mean that in the longer run seeing the business sense of OPD, market dynamics could change with the big fish also taking fancy to outsource entire product development operations. Right now the pond is big and the school of fishes small.
The start ups are swimming vigorously towards OPD because they have no legacy systems as a hindrance and hence the engineering teams do not have to take time to transition. Start-ups constitute just 15–20 percent of Aspire Systems’ business because they need high-end resources from Aspire Systems to lead the development process given the high pressure status of start-ups. Till date, Aspire Systems has helped 15 start-ups to convert its product ideas to fruition. Right from conceptualization to implementation.
“In October 2006 Biz-2-Me in the U.S. approached us and wanted us to roll out a customer loyalty application for them in five months. It was challenging because there were web-based modules; hardware and firmware components also to be developed along with software. The deadline was tight because everything had to be integrated and tested within the time span. The product has been deployed in 100 plus outlets of the chain. We were able to track their customers for them which provided them a unique edge given their size,” recalls Subramanian.
Customers of Aspire Systems ultimately decide the pricing of the product which is dependant on their successful marketing of the product in tandem with its intrinsic ‘goodness’ value. “We don’t have total control of what our customers do with the product we have designed for them and the spreading of the good word about the product is hence not entirely in our volition. This is one reason that we don’t always take our customers’ stocks as payment and if we do so it is very selective and not more than 25 percent of the total handout,” according to Subramanian.