The people behind software distributor EDUCOM Business Solutions (HK) understood the limitations of being a small start-up company - and the advantages of collaborating with bigger players. The company started life in 1994 as New Tech, distributing on-line analytical processing (Olap) software in Hong Kong, according to EDUCOM's sales and marketing director, Bill Webster. Also New Tech's founder, Mr Webster came to Hong Kong in 1978, returning to the US a few years later, and then coming back. 'I had used this Olap software before with a multinational oil firm. It helped me so much that I would like to help other people to implement and get the benefits,' he said. New Tech faced problems from the beginning, Mr Webster admitted. 'Like many start-up companies, we were so small and new that not many people have heard of us or our product.' The turning point for the company came last year when it decided to become a subsidiary of software distributor EDUCOM Group International. Becoming a subsidiary of EDUCOM gave the company a regional presence, he said. Its head offices are in Australia and the United States, with branch offices throughout Australia, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain and the US. EDUCOM Hong Kong continues to specialise in distributing knowledge management and Olap software, plus providing implementation, maintenance and training services to large businesses. The large number of multinational firms in the SAR presents opportunities for EDUCOM, as these organisations must improve productivity to increase competitiveness, which presents two-fold business opportunities. Even though implementation services are the staple of the subsidiary in Hong Kong, distribution of Olap software remains the core business. While talking about software distribution is easy, doing it is difficult in Hong Kong. 'People get used to the traditional way they do business. They don't want to change and they are reluctant to change,' said Mr Webster. 'Also, people are unwilling to spend on software because, unlike advertising, the return of software is difficult to measure and the value is difficult to see.' To change the way people think, EDUCOM organises seminars and workshops to educate users that productivity can come from the desktop as well as the factory. In the past, a report or a budget took days and it was a nightmare combining spreadsheets. However, Mr Webster said company planning, reporting and budgeting were made easier by Olap software allowing users to test output, such as sales by product, by region, by month and by customer, in a fraction of the time. The software costs about US$1,300 for a standalone PC and $26,000 for a five-user system, if used concurrently. EDUCOM's customers include AT&T, Bankers Trust, Bristol-Myers, Squibb, Hong Kong Hospital Authority, Glaxo Wellcome, Merck Sharp & Dhome and NuSkin. With solid product and business industry knowledge, the company has the confidence to push this software further to the medium-sized companies and expand its business to other Asian countries. 'We are capable of achieving this goal because many of our consultants come from the user background. They have years of experience and high expertise on how to solve problems with the Olap software in real-life situations,' said Mr Webster. This article appears courtesy of the Software Industry Information Centre (SIIC) Journal. Contact the SIIC at phone 2788 5693, fax 2788 5878, e-mail siichkpc.org or URL www.it.hkpc.org/siic .