The effect of pay-as-you-go pricing on the Enterprise Application market

October 6, 2015

C24 Ent Apps Blog 2 - Pricing

Subscription pricing is becoming a standard feature of many modern cloud based enterprise applications, further narrowing the gap between enterprise and consumer applications.  Whilst companies may investigate a range of options about where to house their IT for maximum cost savings, most agree that software-as-a-service offerings reduce time, money and resources when it comes to managing the ongoing application upgrades and underlying hardware.  For instance, Toyota brought a large amount of IT infrastructure back in house, but chose to capitalise on the savings offered by many software-as-a-service applications that enable the delegation of the software and hardware upgrades to the SAAS vendor.

The availability of enterprise applications under a pay-as-you-go model means that the playing field has been levelled for many smaller companies who previously could not afford the upfront licence costs – now startups and SMBs have the ability to access enterprise functionality and change perceptions about how applications should work for them.

As cloud technology matures and becomes more accepted at the corporate and enterprise level, larger businesses are also experimenting with non-traditional approaches that enable them to access subscription based pricing – without needing to go through layers of finance sign offs that may be required for high-cost capital purchases.  Many are now utilising cloud based services such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure Cloud to deliver reliable infrastructure services on demand with lower costs of entry than would be available years ago.  This also delivers a benefit for software developers who may not have previously had the capital available to build expensive infrastructure platforms on which to house their software; they can now enter the market at a lower developmental cost and bring products to consumers faster.

But it isn’t just startups and disruptors who are delivering their solutions via subscription models.  The majority of the mature enterprise application vendors all have their own software-as-a-service offerings to meet the demands of a changing consumer market.  Oracle has reported that revenues from new software licences have dropped by 17% whilst at the same time revenues from their cloud services have increased by 29% in the same period, showing the shift in the market as vendors pivot to match client demand.



If you are interested in knowing more about the consumerisation of enterprise applications then read our whitepaper on “The Consumerisation of Enterprise Applications”.



Image provided courtesy of Mighty Travels.

Want people to use your enterprise apps? Make the user interface friendly!

September 30, 2015

C24 Consumer Apps Post 1

User adoption for enterprise applications is critical, especially in an era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or even BYOA (Bring Your Own Application), and the main way of improving satisfaction and adoption of enterprise applications is to improve the user interface.

Increasingly, enterprise app vendors are recognising that in order to increase user satisfaction with their solutions, interfaces need to be as user friendly and intuitive as possible; on a level with the types of user interfaces seen in the consumer sector (i.e. Facebook, Twitter or online booking platforms).  Nobody would expect to be trained on how to use the functionality in Facebook or Twitter, however many enterprise applications require hours or even days of training before a user can be deemed ‘fully functional’.  Analysts have even cited that 80% of enterprise apps succeed due to their ease of use, hence it is of critical importance that new products and functionality upgrades are developed with immediate use in mind.

Users expect to be able to sit down and immediately use an application, with little to no training.  A founder of a CRM app called CRMNext found that the main reason that 50% of CRM application deployments failed was due to difficulty and complexity experienced by users.  Additionally, employees expect to connect to services from a range of devices, in the same way they would access their consumer applications from a web browser on a desktop or via their tablet or smartphone with minimal effort.  Compare that with a traditional desktop application that has no mobile functionality, and the gap between the consumer world and the enterprise world becomes glaringly obvious.  Combined with the fact that many of these consumer applications are free or low-cost, employees quickly lose patience with applications that can sometimes have cost millions to purchase, implement and manage, but which still do not work and adapt to their evolving expectations.

Research cited in a recent article by Forbes highlighted that well designed software interfaces are proven to lead to higher productivity levels as users spend less time figuring out how to use unintuitive applications and more time interacting with the tool.  As PC Advisor put it, “the difference is customer experience”.  Users must be able to install and be up and running immediately, without reading a manual on how to operate the application.

Vendors are therefore looking to make their applications slicker, simpler and low on bandwidth requirements so that apps can be accessed quickly and easily online and through mobile devices.

Despite this progress, the cost of simplicity is high – as simplicity for the user is often a result of lots of backend technical work performed by the central IT team to ensure that all tools integrate seamlessly.  Instead, IT teams should steer away from the speeds and feeds of IT and instead look at developing valuable ‘business partnerships’ with their application users to ensure more productive and optimised usage of apps across the workplace in the beginning, rather than trying to retrospectively integrate disparate systems.


If you are interested in knowing more about the consumerisation of enterprise applications then read our whitepaper on “The Consumerisation of Enterprise Applications”.



Image provided courtesy of Cristiano Betta.

Is blogging the future for legal firms’ marketing strategies?

September 25, 2015

Increasingly legal firms, like many professional firms, are using the medium of blogs to communicate with new C24 Legal Hosting Bloggingclients and foster prospective customer relationships.

The law sector is particularly interesting for blogging as it is a marketing medium being employed by a fairly traditional profession whose business is based on the advice and guidance they provide, and are now offering free information online.


Typically the main reasons cited for law firms starting blogs are:

  • Enticing new clients through promotion of industry perspectives and knowledge
  • Distinguish firms from competitors
  • Responding to change in nature of buyers who are increasingly shopping around for their legal services

Whereas some social media platforms may not suit the field of law, such as Twitter with its 140 character limit, blogging has become a way for firms to share specialised information within their specific niches with potential clients and demonstrate their capabilities over and above competing firms.

However, as an article from Bloomberg highlighted, timing is critical.  If lawyers can be blogging on a decision the day it is released or the day a case is ruled, then they can quickly position themselves as experts and the go-to person in their field.  Being able to quickly turn news items around and into language that your clients can understand easily will mean readers look to you for info and latest developments.

But blogging is nothing new to this sector; LexBlog estimate that 80% of the largest law firms now publish blogs – a sign that blogs are becoming part of the fabric of legal marketing.  In fact, in a survey from Attorney at Work (which we cited in our report Employing Business Analytics to Achieve Better Sales Results For Your Legal Firm), 91% of lawyers that use social media, 60% identified social media as playing an important part of their marketing strategy, and platforms that allow for longer form pieces such as LinkedIn proved most popular.

Such is the popularity of blogging in the sector, that companies have now aligned themselves to providing services dedicated to helping lawyers and partners operate effective, business-generating blogs.  An example is LexBlog, a company that is dedicated to facilitating blogs for legal professionals and cites the reason for firms to now invest in their blogs is due to the view that “authentic online engagement accelerates relationships and word-of-mouth” in order to drive more business activity.

A feature on about why lawyers blog included a few interesting snippets that give us better insight into the wider reasons, outside of pure business generation, behind the legal blogging phenomenon:

  • Helps keep lawyers abreast of developments in the industry
  • Allows bloggers to give something back to the legal community
  • Enables lawyers to organise their thinking about complex topics
  • ‘About half of my new clients find me because of my blog’

The standout quote from the article that really embodies why blogging is such a valuable activity in the legal sector particularly is,

“When you can explain a concept clearly, your own understanding of the subject matter increases exponentially”.

A simple search on Google brings up hundreds of law related blogs, and what is now interesting is that the breadth of topics is expanding.  Firms are branching out into specialist niche areas of law in addition to the operational side of the business. There are now a number of blogs dedicated to marketing and business development, specifically targeted at the legal sector, such as LegalBizDev and the Legal Marketing Blog – who have specialised in their function and sector to provide industry specific advice and news that is more up to date than any textbook could hope to be.


It’s an exciting space and we especially look forward to find more blogs around the legal technology space.  If anyone can recommend any then it would be appreciated.


Image courtesy of Andy Piper.



About C24

C24 Ltd is one of the UK’s leading privately owned specialist managed service and hosting providers, based in the Midlands, UK. Working with businesses all over the globe, the company manages, secures and delivers critical business applications to over 100 countries, with a particular focus on the legal sector. As a strategic Thomson Reuters’ partner, we deliver enterprise hosting platforms for Thomson Reuters Elite clients who are looking for more flexible solutions for their core practice management platforms.

Why Partnering Makes Sense

September 22, 2015

How can software vendors and integrators grow their business and revenues through partnerships.

C24 hosting partnering

There are so many different cloud models available to software vendors today.  Whether that’s public cloud (Azure, AWS, etc) or private cloud in your own datacentre – plus a world in between.

In a bid to offer a software-as-a-service solution to clients, many software vendors rush to market with an ill-fitting cloud service that doesn’t work for the long term.  It can be tempting to look at public cloud services to deliver the solution, however how does that model work when you want to add new functionality or change how users consume your service (maybe you want to sell through an app store to some customers, directly for others, and offer on premise integration for other clients)?

Public cloud makes sense for certain apps, but for many legacy software solutions that have been developed for on-premise IT, it can be a painful process to get ‘cloud ready’.

The complexity of cloud models often pushes developers to look at how they can build their own cloud, but this is costly and the security requirements are radically different when developing on premise to in the cloud.

But, the reason most of our ISVs choose to work with C24 to deliver their underlying hosting and as-a-service solution is rarely anything to do with discussions about the most suitable cloud or infrastructure.

It’s usually to do with partnering.

Everyone talks about partnering.  But we actually do it.

That’s in part down to some of the fantastic Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that we work with, however the main differentiator that makes the partnership work are the peripheral business services that are jointly wrapped around each solution sale:

  • We work hard to understand what it is our partners do and their business models. Then we look at how we can translate that into mutual success for both parties.
  • We do the hard word upfront and work on developing a go-to-market proposition between both companies that works, rather than waiting for the first customer to come along before we engage.
  • We combine marketing and lead generation resources – so there is double the sales activity, double the marketing activity and double the enthusiasm for new customers.
  • We collectively meet to drive incremental new business that pushes both companies forward for increased client satisfaction and business success.

The main factor we find when partnering is that the timescales are long.  Nothing is quick when it comes to partnering, and rightly so.  Neither us, nor our partners, want to engage and work together on a new client immediately with no background or time spent together developing relationships – only to find the partnership doesn’t ‘fit’ in the middle of a project.

Instead, we take our time to build trust and credibility with our partners – as it is a hugely impactful activity to move your on-premise traditional licenced software product to a software-as-a-service solution.

If you are an ISV or software integrator who is looking at different ways to expand your cloud –as-a-service portfolio out to clients, or to even launch your on-premise solution to the cloud, then have a read of our whitepaper on “How an effective channel hosting strategy can increase your software sales” or visit the Partner section of our site.



Image courtesy of Drew Leavy.

Acquiring Customers in a Complex B2B Sales Environment

September 21, 2015

As a specialist application hosting provider (amongst other things!), our solutions and therefore sales cycles tend to be complex procedures, involving multiple people, teams and companies.

We have been looking into the impact that sales complexity has on the costs of acquiring new customers – a subject that many technology solution providers will likely struggle with as customer acquisition costs continue to soar and product offerings become ever more complex.

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (7 of 10)

Technology sales have their own unique challenges:

  • The topic is not simple – multiple companies are often involved in each customer project.
  • Requires multiple people to reach a purchasing decision, often due to the scale of the project and the costs associated. Often, the buyer themselves isn’t aware of their own organisation’s decision making process.
  • Mission critical – projects often impact on the entire business, so risks are high if something goes wrong. This is an uncertainty that technology suppliers have to remove for their clients.
  • High costs if project fails (e.g. data loss, significant financial impact, or disruption to business systems).
  • Expensive – high cost to the purchaser, and can often take a long time to realize ROIs.
  • Affects many other IT systems, people or departments – change can be tough.
  • Requires the purchase of other elements, or integration/development work to make a complete solution. This can be complex to design and deliver concurrently.
  • Customers require reassurance, so previous experience and case studies necessary to be selected.
  • Pricing complexity – costs are often based on complex configurations with different margin positions blended across an entire solution.
  • Custom contracts need to be negotiated – and legal T&C’s have to be agreed.


So how do you go about acquiring customers against such a complex sales process?

Obviously, in order to generate profit, the customer acquisition costs need to be lower than the life time value of the customer.  To achieve this, we focus our efforts on the higher value end of the market, where clients have an understanding that they are engaging with a non-commodity based organization and where value is driven around relationships, uptime, urgency and the removal of pain from their side.

The combination of these elements creates our USP as we don’t have one unique proposition but a combination of strengths that deliver a complete business proposition.

The acquisition of customers within the enterprise B2B market is expensive, as field sales and the supporting operational infrastructure is not cheap to maintain, coupled with the high cost of ongoing demand generation.  Ironically these cost challenges also give us protection as they deliver high barriers to entry into the market for other technology suppliers.

Despite these challenges of selling in a complex environment, there are benefits to the supplier once you move past the acquisition stage:

  • Clients are looking for long term relationships and once trust is built, clients are very loyal to your business.
  • Organisations want to work with specialists and in many cases do not consider the large, multinational corporations when they are selecting a technology partner as they want to feel ‘close’ to their tech partner.
  • Due to the nature of the technology market, clients with enterprise IT requirements are usually quite large and so more financially secure than some SME’s.
  • The technology purchased is to be used for a significant time period and so the associated hosting will usually match this time.
  • There are only a small number of competitors with the required skill sets who can compete with you if you are a specialist provider.
  • Once you have a number of hosted clients within a certain sector and gain targeted knowledge about your customers, you can become the go-to organisation for an industry.
  • Although the acquisition costs are high, the extended relationship periods means that the lifetime value of the customer can be significant.
  • The business model around hosting enables the creation of recurring revenue delivering real value to staff and shareholders, who can predict revenue levels with more accuracy.
  • Disruption in the market is kept to a minimum with fewer new market entrants than consumer markets.


While commoditized players who are focused on the consumer sector can benefit from low cost of sale and the strengths of the internet, suppliers in complex markets have to look for more long-term growth and acquisition strategies in order to build profitable business generation campaigns.

At C24, we do this through a network of established partners who we work with closely to build sales programs and joint marketing initiatives.  We also focus closely on developing content around our specialties; ERP, legal hosting and analytics – so that we can build a thought leadership platform and help advise customers on what we are seeing in the industry.

B2B companies are also starting to utilize the more long-form types of social media posting, such as Quora and LinkedIn publishing to reach new customers, in a way that Twitter and social sharing doesn’t always allow for complex industries.

Despite this web-focused activity, we still find that the majority of our customers come to us through referrals; we focus on building long-term partnerships with other vendors and complimentary solution providers so that we can together target new clients, rather than focusing on end customer marketing activities.




About C24

C24 is a specialist applications hosting provider and business analytics expert, focused on the manufacturing, legal and hospitality sector.  Find out more at .

5 Reasons to Ditch Traditional ERP Today

September 17, 2015

The traditional ERP model is broken, and new suppliers are rushing in from all sides (hybrid, hosted, public cloud and SAAS vendors) to fill the gap once inhabited by the monolithic ERP software vendors.

Consumers of ERP products want something different nowadays; a solution scales and fits with their business without costing an arm and a leg to deploy.

Here are 5 reasons why we believe that traditional ERP is dead.


1) Choice in the ERP market has contracted dramatically.c24 ERP

The number of ERP vendors offering traditional licenced software products is reducing and very few new vendors are coming into the space offering new ERP software solutions; creating a contraction in the market.  Less suppliers mean less innovation taking place, and even traditional vendors such as Sage and Microsoft are now pushing their cloud ERP versions over and above their traditional on-premise products.

Without innovation in the market, consumers will be attracted by the newer feature sets and capabilities of cloud-developed ERP solutions, and will gradually decommission their on-premise central ERP infrastructures as the features struggle to keep pace with client expectations.

Conversely, in the cloud ERP space, there are many more vendors developing straight onto public cloud platforms and the market is buoyant as app developers recognise the huge opportunity for cost-effective, cloud-based ERP services for organisations facing complex ERP challenges.


2) The ROI for on-premise ERP deployments is often longer than most people’s job roles.

The average worker is said to stay at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, and may have a number of job roles within that period.  ERP implementations often take between 18 months to 2 years, and sometimes longer when the projects run into difficulties (see our post on the 6 Most Shocking ERP Failures), therefore it can often be over 5 years before the return on investment for an ERP deployment is realised.

This timescale is often too long for many managers (who want to see an ROI within their tenure) and many Finance Directors are now expecting IT projects to deliver savings within the first year.  The reason for the extended timescale for on-premise ERP deployments compared with cloud ERP is largely due to the deployment costs involved in integrating a complex software system across all of your existing operations, and the cost and time impact on each business department as the solution is integrated into departmental apps.

One of the main features touted by cloud and hosted ERP solutions is the relatively short ROI timescales due to lower upfront deployment costs and pre-integration work already done by the vendor during the development stage.


3) Skilled ERP workers are retiring

IT specialists who were skilled in deploying and managing complex, traditional ERP systems are on the road to retiring in the next 10 years as the software specialists working around the mid-1990’s reach retirement age.  And, as cloud based ERP solutions grow in popularity, the skillsets associated with traditional ERP deployments will gradually decline; especially as many newer ERP cloud services are intuitive to use and based on familiar web user interfaces.

How companies continue to enhance their in-house ERP skills will be critical for determining whether they remain with on-premise ERP deployments or jump into hybrid Cloud ERP for simpler ongoing management and lower staffing costs.


4) Death by a thousand cuts – line of business apps

Traditional ERP is struggling due to the sheer volume of line of business apps that are being released into the market daily, due to the ease of developing and distributing via public cloud services.  Where once the central ERP system would have handled all facets of a company’s operations, now cloud and hosted payroll apps (such as Iris’ KashFlow Payroll) are being run alongside cloud CRM (for example, OpenCRM) and web-based warehouse management systems (such as Accello’s Cloud Warehouse Management).

As developers are just focusing on solving one issue in each app, integration is critical, however the cost differences between standalone, cloud, SAAS solutions seem to be outweighing the benefits of deploying an organisation-wide ERP solution.  Even more so when many developers are operating a freemium model in order to entice new B2B buyers…

If organisations continue to purchase standalone apps for line of business and departmental requirements, then this could be a death by a thousand cut for the traditional ERP platform.


5) On-premise ERP makes no financial sense for the modern business.

Deploying on-premise ERP requires infrastructure and people.  People and infrastructure require space.  And space costs a lot.

As many businesses are decommissioning their own server rooms in favour of hosting services from data centre providers, adding large infrastructure environments to their space-confined office locations in order to house a new ERP system is often commercially impossible.

Added to the space costs are the hardware, licences, support, consultancy and deployment expenses – all before the ongoing maintenance and management costs are incorporated.  This means that large scale ERP deployments on-premise are no longer commercially viable, and in a bid to reduce IT spend organisations are now choosing to host their ERP externally or purchase hybrid ERP services which remove the specialist consultancy and deployment costs from the sale.



Traditional ERP systems are still very much in place in many organisations across the world, but as many industry outlets (and ourselves at C24) are seeing, newer purchases tend to be hybrid or cloud ERP services which are then integrated into existing, legacy ERP applications in a bid to keep the lights on for a few more years.  Fewer companies are choosing on-premise ERP deployments as their number 1 strategy, and are instead looking at how on-premise legacy ERP can be complimented with hosted or cloud-based services to deliver a more modern, and complete, solution.



If you liked this post then please read our other posts on ERP in the cloud:

6 Most Shocking ERP Failures

Can the cloud deliver for large scale ERP deployments?

Should You Risk Your ERP With The Cloud?

The Top 5 Things Not To Do When Deploying ERP in the Cloud



About C24 Ltd

C24 is a specialist applications hosting provider, with particular expertise in hosting and analytics for the manufacturing, legal and hospitality sector.


Image provided courtesy of Jes.

Partnering For Success: EPOS with Analytics

September 9, 2015

I thought it might be interesting for contacts in the retail, EPOS, analytics and hospitality sectors to learn about how C24 work with an industry leading EPOS vendor and has helped them to move away from purely EPOS offerings to a holistic, analytics-integrated service for clients.

We can’t reveal the name at this stage but the outcomes and challenges resonate with other partners and customers who we work with.

C24 EPOS Hosting 2


Prior to engaging with us, our EPOS partner was facing a number of challenges when engaging with their retail clients.  Although they were already offering a market-leading EPOS solution, they were keen to move into other areas and expand the value they delivered to clients.  This is what their EPOS analytics looked like prior to engaging with C24:

  • – Their EPOS tool had a degree of reporting built into the platform, yet it was static in nature and reporting wasn’t flexible.
  • – Reports were based on historical data generated from the EPOS system.
  • – Reporting was confined purely to the data generated within the EPOS tool, not taking into account the other applications that interacted with the till point.
  • – The reporting wasn’t very visual or graphical in its representation of data, so wasn’t being interrogated by non-data or IT users.
  • – The EPOS vendor was confined to the EPOS share of the customer spend, rather than branching out into other areas to offer potentially revenue-generating solutions for their retail clients.

From a technology point of view, each till point required various pieces of hardware to be installed – creating service headaches if there were any hardware malfunctions, and increasing support costs for the client as any faults would require onsite IT assistance.


Strong partnership

By engaging with the EPOS vendor, we have built a strong partnership in which we combine our business analytics solution with their EPOS application to deliver a service that is holistically bigger than its parts.  Working hand in hand, we have helped to change the conversation from being EPOS-focused, to being centred instead on how the EPOS vendor can help to generate more revenue for the client.

The partnership between the EPOS vendor and C24 has enabled their customers’ EPOS reporting to be:

  • – More visual and graphical representation of data, by dynamically showing data in different formats and word clouds, in order to spot trends easily.
  • – The information is easy to extract from the EPOS tool (providing the user has the correct access levels) – so that data can be shared quickly and easily for swifter reactions to events.
  • – Reporting is more flexible, enabling the integration of non-EPOS applications into the wider reporting environment, so that EPOS data can be shown alongside other apps for increased visibility and an organisation-wide view of the information.
  • – Reporting is now in real-time; users don’t have to wait to extract information.
  • – The reporting functionality was easy to access and adopt for business and IT users alike, due to its ‘search engine’ type style.
  • – Onsite hardware was removed and virtualised, so that the apps were instead delivered from a central hosting datacentre, reducing on-site costs and support expenses.


Business outcomes

The EPOS vendor has experienced a number of commercial benefits as a result of the close partnership with C24.  They have been able to grow their share of wallet in each account by expanding their sale through the addition of our analytics solution.  This has given their sales teams a new message to take out to customers; away from the traditional EPOS sale, to looking at how EPOS technology can maximise revenues for the retailer.

The hosted nature of the new solution means that new customer deployments have much lower timescales to deliver, as installation does not now require the many days onsite work to deploy the hardware and set the systems up, making it a more profitable service to deliver.  Furthermore, this hosted approach has meant that the vendor can move from a CapEx payment structure to a monthly recurring revenue model, which is commercially more sustainable for their business.

This story demonstrates how partnering closely to deliver a combined solution (rather than reselling a bolt-on product) can deliver huge commercial benefits for both parties involved in the partnership – helping each other to reach new markets and offer a more compelling and valuable message for clients.



Find out more about C24’s partnerships with EPOS vendors at or follow C24 on LinkedIn.



About C24 Ltd

C24 is a specialist applications hosting provider, with particular expertise in hosting and analytics for the manufacturing, legal and hospitality sector.

C24 helps retailers and hospitality providers to take their EPOS, and other hospitality applications, to a new level; integrating apps with insightful business analytics and tailored cloud hosting services for a seamless, customer experience.

Find out more about our EPOS hosting and analytics solutions at:


Image provided courtesy of Kai Schreiber.



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