This paper seeks to deepen our understanding of the engagement of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in hosted enterprise applications (high complexity e-business applications) in the UK by investigating the relevance of organisational and technical factors through conducting interviews with SME users of hosted applications. The emergence and development of the application service provider (ASP) sector has attracted much interest and highly optimistic forecasts for revenues. Of particular interest in this paper is the emergence of service offerings targeted specifically at SMEs. The paper starts by considering information technology (IT) adoption by SMEs in general before reviewing the provision of hosted enterprise applications in the US and UK. The empirical data collected from SME users of hosted enterprise applications is then analysed in order to produce the key findings and conclusions. From an SME user perspective the key findings to emerge from the study include: i) confirmation that ICT infrastructure was no longer a barrier to adoption, ii) the pragmatic approach taken to security issues, iii) the use of both multiple information systems (hosted and resident) and service providers, iv) the attractiveness of the rental cost model and v) the intention to continue or extend their use of hosted applications within the enterprise. The early promise of the ASP sector appears not to have been generally realised for SMEs in the UK. This study explores the experience of early adopters of this new IT related innovation and identifies some significant business gains experienced by SME users. It also highlights the opportunity for gaining competitive advantage by using hosted enterprise applications to reduce costs. There are very few empirical studies of hosted applications which take a deliberately SME user perspective and this paper make an important contribution in this emerging field.
|Title of host publication||Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship 28th National Conference (Blackpool, UK) - 2005|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|
- application service provision
- IT adoption
- IS strategy
- application service provider