Since 1984, Exact has developed innovative software solutions for about 200,000 businesses worldwide and this number is still growing. Exact explicitly states that it wants to serve the entrepreneurial businesses with information technology by delivering sophisticated business software solutions and high quality services. But how does the company involve their customers in delivering these software solutions and is simultaneously able to offer high quality services? More important: what are the future implications for the company in their co-creation attempt with its customers.
Exact Business Model
The business model of Exact is based on a software-as-a-service model and allows customers access to the services provided by the company, in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Customers are classified in light, medium and heavy users and pay an additional charge as usage of the services increases. Thus, Exact has evolved its services from a traditional Application Services Provider (ASP) model to a SaaS model where it is also important to note that the company is increasingly investing in cloud computing. This is because the dynamics of cloud computing are different and necessary changes can be implemented more quickly in favour of all customers.
How Exact Co-Creates With Its Customers
Especially in the service offerings to customers, Exact pursues to join forces with its customers. As customers use the service management solution, they provide user feedback that the company uses to improve its service offerings. The growing number of users using the service management solution shows that customers can help improving the quality of the offered services by providing feedback. Exact on their turn answers on the needs of customers by implementing incremental innovations in the service offerings. Thus, Exact is building on the modernized concept of Prosumerise, which is known as the joint responsibility of consumers, professionals and enterprises to improve and transform services.
Is There More Potential?
It is interesting to see that Exact has already taken a small step with this co-creation project to let customer participate in the improvements and further developments of the service management solution. However, critical for the success of their co-creation strategy is that Exact should encourage customers to provide feedback and suggestions which helps tie them more closely to Exact its services (Merlo et al., 2014). This results in better co-creation by increasing customer participation. According to Brunoe et al. (2014), Exact should benefit from innovation success, reputational results and organizational results, compared to non-creators. As Exact is still heavily investing in cloud computing, financial results cannot yet be seen. To cope with future uncertainty on co-creation, Exact should follow the recommendations from Gustafsson et al. (2012). They suggest that in this case, Exact should continue to combine co-creation and innovation using incremental innovations in their service management solution and dialogue with the customer. Opening up the dialogue with customer also results in better understanding the customer needs. Also, it is important to treat customers as equal partners and create a feeling of joint responsibility. Summing up, Exact is on the right way to become a co-creating company!
IEEE (2007) “The Business Model of “Software-As-A-Service”, retrieved from: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4278733&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D4278733, viewed on 3rd April, 2015.
Exact Introduces Newly Flexible Delivery Model (2014), retrieved from: http://www.exact.nl/over-exact/publicaties/persberichten/3533-exact-introduceert-nieuwe-flexibel-opgezette-leveringsmodellen, viewed on 4th April 2015.
Brokaw, L. (2014) ‘The Big Upside of Customer Participation’, retrieved from: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-big-upside-of-customer-participation/, viewed on 4th April 2015.
Gustafsson, A., Kristensson, P., Witell, L. (2012) ‘Customer Co-Creation In Service Innovation: A Matter Of Communication?’, Journal of Service Management, (23), 3, 311- 327.