April 2, 2008
This morning I spoke with Hawaii based company PHASE 2 International. PHASE 2 is an interesting business that has several strings to their bow that span horizontal platforms as well as discrete vertical industry groups. They have a diverse customer base, from Fortune 500 companies through to SMEs, but have been pleasantly surprised at the uptake of their offerings by larger organisations they feel that this might be as a result of their history as IT consultants in the enterprise space.
The Phase two platform play
PHASE 2 have set themselves the task of becoming a platform aggregator bringing together disparate applications and providing them to SMEs. They rightly recognise that a “one stop shop” approach is attractive to SMEs and to this end have put together a broad range of offerings to fill out the functionality requirement. Their current offerings include;
- Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) – the workflow automation, collaboration process and content management that PHASE 2 believes is most a palatable to the marketplace
- Microsoft CRM – Like the fact or not, Enterprise and larger SMEs live within the constraints of Microsoft products. To this end PHASE 2 chose the MS CRM offering, especially due to its integration capabilities with the other MS offerings (especially Outlook)
- Microsoft Exchange – Again, PHASE 2 chose the email solution that integrates most seamlessly with the MS suite of products
- Microsoft project – In an interesting implementation, PHASE 2 offers MS Project via SaaS. Project managers will still need an installed copy of the app, but once the project is planned, it can be uploaded to the Phase2 SaaS platform from where it can be viewed by the project participants
I was a little sceptical about MS Project as a SaaS application, it still requires the lead PM to have an installed copy of the app and due to this can’t really be called pure-play SaaS. That said however, for customers who use project as a resource allocation and time management tool, the functionality that PHASE 2 offers should suffice.
The Phase2 vertical plays
In a solutions that has some similarities to those of Widen.com who I reviewed a few weeks ago, PHASE 2 offers ShareCAD a tool to allow collaboration for AutoCAD files. PHASE 2 explained to me the problems architects and other building and design professionals have when attempting to collaborate on CAD files. This difficulty is exacerbated by the way AutoCAD works, linking multiple referenced files within one file. ShareCAD takes care of this by performing the following actions,
- • Automatically detects path settings for externally referenced files and adjusts them for use on
the server or upon download
• Allows for granular permissions settings to control access
• Secure extranet, allows the team to work from anywhere
• Weekly data backup
• Automatically indexes your files by User, Date, File Name, and full text – for easy searching
• Version control, to make sure everyone is using the most updated file
• Online notifications: Automatically notified when documents or folders have been modified
The ShareCAD offering sounds like a valuable tool for those in the industry, I also couldn’t help but thing that the functionality would be equally applicable to a graphic design/publishing environment where referenced files, version control and ability to control access, are all valuable tools.
What’s in the Pipeline?
PHASE 2 shared with me a couple of offerings that are come in the next few months.
The first is a vertical medical billing product, PHASE 2 told me that up to 30% of the total of a medical invoice is accrued in the logistics of raising the invoice. To this end Phase2 are creating a solution that tracks items from multiple provider, allows for externally referenced filed (see a theme here?) and outputs an invoice that complies with regulatory requirements.
Second up is a IP based Biometric timeclock. PHASE 2 is developing both the hardware and software that will allow them to deploy a physical item within a workplace that employees then use with a biometric signature (thumbprint) and pass code. The data is then transferred to PHASE 2′s SaaS solution where it is posted to a SaaS payroll solution.
PHASE 2 are also investigating options with regards a SaaS accounting solution. It’ll be a third party product as they recognise that building an accounting application from scratch is a tough job.
CRM runs to USD55/month for one user, USD440 for 10
Project is USD55/month for one user, USD500 for 10
This seems within the ballpark of the competition, I’d assume that PHASE 2 would show some efficiencies (and price drops) for customers investing in multiple solutions from them.
It looks good! PHASE 2 are rapidly building out a end-to end ecosystem for SMEs and larger organisations, meanwhile they’ve developed some nice solutions for verticals and should capture a good market share within those verticals.