First Coffee

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

First Coffee

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Al Stewart’s 1975 album Modern Times, glittering, intelligent songwriting:

Maybe First CoffeeSM should be listening to Led Zeppelin’s first album, since “communication breakdown” is the reason given for Australia’s Telstra to announce that yes… no… yes, the telco will offer retail clients VoIP in 2005/06.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telstra Corp Ltd is officially – as of now, anyway – retracting its earlier statement that it had “scrapped plans to offer its retail clients the ability to make calls over the internet for at least another year.”

So to sum up: Telstra will offer VoIP to retail clients either this year or next. Honest.

Telstra is saying that its VoIP isn’t quite ready for prime-time, though. “The company does hope to have a consumer launch in the coming financial year, depending on customer demand,” a Telstra spokesman told the Morning Herald. “But we still have a lot more work to do… the trial found that the consumer experience was below expectations in terms of voice quality and reliability.”

Telstra group managing director of technology, innovation and product Ted Pretty told AAP in March that the company wanted to see the service being taken by broadband customers with a BigPond connection before the end of calendar 2005, the Morning Herald reports.

Rumors of a Siebel takeover are being both fueled and allayed by the company’s new staff retention plan. Reuters is reporting that Siebel’s board of directors “had approved an employee benefit retention program to stem uncertainty about ‘recent rumors’ that the business software maker could be acquired or taken over.”

he new plan, which covers virtually all Siebel employees, would make it much more expensive for a hostile takeover. It’s similar to the poison pill PeopleSoft tried to ward off an Oracle takeover, but Larry Ellison is not so easily deterred and Oracle took them over anyway – ironically Oracle is seen as a prime suitor for Siebel as well.

he plan provides employees with certain “severance benefits including cash and health benefits, upon termination during a period that begins three months before a change of control and ends one year after,” according to Reuters:

“The employees, depending on their title and position, would receive cash payments equal to three to 18 months of their base salary and bonus or commissions, and immediate acceleration of all unvested stock options, among other benefits, if there is a change in control at Siebel.”

Either Siebel really doesn’t want to be taken over quite yet, or they want to choose for themselves who acquires them when.

InnoMedia is announcing that D&E Communications, an integrated communications service provider serving central Pennsylvania, will use InnoMedia CPE for its commercial VoIP service.

InnoMedia is billing its MTA Phone Adapters as “the most flexible, interoperable, feature-rich, and cost-effective IP telephony CPE devices available on the market today,” according to company officials.

Compatible with any standard analog telephone set, InnoMedia’s MTA products can deliver multiple telephone lines each with their own unique telephone number and uses advanced compression, echo cancellation, and packet recovery algorithms.

InnoMedia’s one of those providers which lets companies begin offering VoIP service almost immediately. InnoMedia MTAs will support a multitude of system configurations including broadband loop emulations with GR303/V5.2 gateways, PacketCable-based Call Agents, or SIP-based Softswitches.

&E Communications Jazzd Phone Service for Broadband uses VoIP and offers unlimited local and domestic long distance calling, enhanced 911 service, the ability to receive and forward voice mail messages through e-mail, a web site to control custom calling features, and D&E’s own telemarketer call blocking service.

D&E Communications, an integrated communications provider based in Lancaster County, has been serving central Pennsylvania for more than 100 years. Not bad when you consider that a large part of its geographic clientele – the Amish and conservative Mennonites – don’t use telephones. Kind of like having the Jack Daniels distributorship for Saudi Arabia.

Looking back over the week First CoffeeSM realizes there has been no mention of the Nucleus Research findings scoring ROI for different enterprise and on-demand CRM products. Well, that’s what Fridays are for, so to wit:

Earlier this week Nucleus, a vendor of Return on Investment-focused research and various IT advisory services released ROI Scorecards for CRM vendors, which are supposed to measure the strength of vendor solutions in both the Enterprise and On-Demand CRM markets. They’re available on the Nucleus Research website.

Nucleus found that many companies have achieved a positive ROI from CRM, provided they have “a measured approach to deployment, chose vendors and implementation partners that could provide real guidance, and addressed the human factors inherent in CRM projects.”

Overall vendor scores, with a highest possible of 5.0 found Siebel Systems leading the Enterprise CRM category with a 4.2. Microsoft Business Solutions - Great Plains tied for second with Oracle in that category with both receiving a score of 4.0.

In the On-Demand CRM category, Siebel Systems and RightNow tied for first place with a 4.4 score.

Ratings took into account deployment, adoption, support, business impact and the vendor’s track record, which First CoffeeSM thinks is a ringer category skewing unfairly to the bigger vendors.

According to a delightful article on the Indian tech news site Mid Day, call center executives “can at last throw their annoying Texas drawls or fancy Brit inflections out of the window,” since business process outsourcing firms in India have decided to ditch “firang,” or foreign accents in favor of “plain, natural English.”

Rajesh Ramola, a trainer at Personaliteez, a Mira Road call center, told Mid Day that “in the beginning, clients, especially Americans, were unaware their calls were being outsourced, so we were forced to speak in an accent. Now everybody knows, so there is no point to it anymore.”

On the Call Center Services India blog about a year ago a contributor posted that “despite the acquired accent and alias being used in calls by call centers in India… it is the accent of these Indian call center employees, which is the give away.

“Earlier these Indian call center employees were supposed to hide their location, but now the company policy has changed and if the customer overseas inquires, the call centers in India disclose their identity and location.”

Errol John of Premium Technologies Inc in Navi Mumbai told Mid Day that “young executives tended to overdo the accent bit, often creating a communications disaster. Besides, communicating effectively is the challenge, not matching accents.”

The BBC has reported that “until now, the British and American media seemed amused by the way Indian call center workers have been trained to speak in foreign accents to answer calls from customers in London or Los Angeles.

“Now, Indian executives admit to a growing concern in the West that the accent training has not been good enough and Indian workers remain hard to understand.”

If read off-site hit for the fully-linked version. First CoffeeSM accepts no sponsored content placement and, uncompensated, recommends ‘72 VW Beetle ragtops, dark roast coffee, monogamy, T.S. Eliot and Moose Drool Beer.

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