ASP, Online, Hosted, Web-Based, On-Demand HR “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” Applications

By now, most of us are aware of (and for the most part accept) the value of an ASP, online, hosted, web-based, on-demand HR applications – or whatever you want to call it. While each term may have its own definition, all describe the same functionality – an application that you purchase and use (online) as you need it and pay as you go. These types of applications eliminate the time and cost associated with installation, administration, and support of out-of-the-box software products. Other benefits include a lower cost of ownership, rapid deployment, ease-of-system updates, outsourced support and security.

So why are there so many names to describe this stuff?

A November 2004 article written by Ben Pring at Gartner entitled “ASP Transforms Into On-Demand and Software-as-a-Service” stated that “…as the application service provider industry matures, new and more positive terminology is evolving…The term ‘ASP,’ with its historical connotations of ‘dot-com hype, boom and bust,’ is slowly being replaced by the terms ‘software-as-a-service’ (SAAS) and, most importantly, ‘on demand…Industry leaders IBM, Oracle and Siebel are all now squarely focused on the term ‘on demand’ and are spending significant marketing dollars on ‘market-making’ this term."

We’re not sure who coined these phrases, but only a few entities have the power to mass-market them to the point of widespread adoption. These include the large corporations that sell these applications and their PR firms, industry analysts and Wall Street. The rest of us who sell these applications go along for the ride and update our marketing collateral as needed.

What is fascinating about ASP, online, hosted, web-based, on-demand applications is how many different names these applications have had within a relatively short period.

One reason is because the debut of these services was anything but a success – bad timing, slow adoption rate, dot-com implosion, not so great functionality, limited access to high-speed Internet connectivity – and as a result, the industry has had several re-launches, albeit with better products this time. ASPs, as they were called at the time, were simply over-hyped in the late 1990’s so a new term had to be coined to reinvent the space.

The great news is finally, we believe, the marketplace has accepted ASP, online, hosted, web-based, on-demand [fill in name here] applications. Few HR vendors have to sell the concept or value of these applications anymore so they can now focus on selling their solution which is a lot easier than changing buyer's attitudes about converting to such services.