Indiana e-Tools.

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Software companies deliver their solutions online, with nothing to install or maintain

If you heard about some great marketing software for your company from Indianapolis-based Aprimo but your IT department says installation will have to wait, you're not out of luck.

You can access the software online. Since the company was launched about a year and a half ago, it has sold software for installation on customers' equipment and also hosted its product online.

"About a third of our customers ask us to host," says CEO Bill Godfrey. Why? "The primary value is the quick time to deliver software to them in a hosted environment. They can begin to realize the return on investment in a shorter time frame."

Then there's the cost. "Typically, it's less expensive to go the hosted route," Godfrey says.

That's especially true when it comes to the computer telephony software products developed by Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence. "You'd have to be a relatively large company" to fit one of these systems into the budget, says Debbie Thornburg, whose brother, Don Brown, is CEO of Interactive Intelligence.

Thornburg is director of sales for Interactive Portal, which Brown launched last August to provide communications-related services online using Interactive Intelligence software technology. "It allows us to provide these services to companies of all sizes, and even individuals," Thornburg says.

By providing software solutions across the Internet, Interactive Portal and Aprimo function as what are known in the industry as "application service providers," or ASPs. An ASP doesn't necessarily write software but hosts it on a central server for use by a company's network of PCs. Essentially, an ASP allows a user to rent software for a fee. It's a best-of-both-worlds arrangement, taking advantage of each PC's processing power but keeping the software in one place for easier troubleshooting and upgrades.

Executives at Aprimo and Interactive Portal are quick to point out that they are not pure ASPs. They are software developers, but they make their products available to customers using the ASP model. There is no software for the customer to install or maintain. All that's needed is an

Internet connection and a standard Web browser like Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

Baker Hill Corp., a Carmel-based writer of software for the banking industry, entered the ASP arena last spring with the launch of its service, which helps banks...

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