First Coffee for June 15, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for June 15, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition, Ravel orchestration, recorded in Berlin in 1990 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Carlo Maria Giulini:

Today at CommunicAsia IP Unity and Telekom Malaysia are announcing deployment of Home Prepaid Services. While not yet an enterprise application, this new service rollout is a major VoIP and IP messaging effort, and according to Telekom officials, “just the beginning of Telekom Malaysia’s enhanced services expansion.”

This morning Telekom Malaysia is also “denying reports that it had made a solo bid to buy a 48 per cent stake in Idea Cellular,” according to PTINews. A joint $390 million bid by Telecom and Singapore Technologies Telemedia for 47.7 per cent of Idea Cellular fell through after they failed to get the required approvals in India.

SST Communications, a developer of RF integrated circuits for wireless and multimedia applications, and a subsidiary of Silicon Storage Technology, Inc. are announcing a Bluetooth power amplifier that increases transmission range with lower power consumption than is currently available, according to company officials.

Targeting Bluetooth Class 1 applications like wireless USB dongle and long-range pico-nets, the SST12LP00 increases transmission range by 40 percent with less than 100mA in current consumption. “Dongle,” “pico-nets,” such colorful language.

Is “doing CRM” the same thing as being “customer centric?” Financial services doesn’t think so.

According to the results of a recent BusinessEdge study, the financial industry thinks doing a good, efficient, clean job is being “customer-centric,” skip the frills and froo-froo. The top three reasons for financial services firms pursuing customer centricity include operations efficiency at 44 percent, compliance at 24 percent and customer up sell or cross sell at 14 percent.

Across other sectors those priorities are inverted, as customer up or cross-sell is the top reason for 52 percent of respondents, sales force productivity for 28 percent and operational efficiency for 15 percent.

It reminds First CoffeeSM of when he was working with Bob Thompson of and went out to see him in San Francisco, and Bob asked him where he thought CRM was heading, and after an answer involving technology Bob said something like “See? You answered with the tools. Where is the concept going?”

Two recent studies, the BusinessEdge one cited above and a BenchmarkPortal one discussed earlier, show that financial services have a different concept of what good customer service is than most other sectors.

Frankly First CoffeeSM wouldn’t expect much in the way of customer care from a financial services firm, but he would expect the best financial services available at the price. That’d be a satisfactory “customer relationship,” with or without the birthday card.

The BenchmarkPortal survey of small and medium-sized businesses’ responsiveness to e-mail inquiries, one metric of customer service puts financial services dead last in “customer service.” BenchmarkPortal, a source of CRM best practices for contact centers, found that the financial services and retail companies were the “least responsive,” with 72% and 60% respectively not sending any response at all to e-mails inquiring about sizeable purchases.

And for quality of response, financial services again performed the worst with 89% of the companies providing an inaccurate and/or incomplete answer.

Yet the financial services sector leads the pack in self-described “customer centricity project investments and expectations,” according to the BusinessEdge study released by New York-based BusinessEdge Solutions Inc., a business and technology consulting firm in the financial services and insurance industries.

The study, prepared for BusinessEdge by Howard A. Rubin, Ph.D., professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Hunter College of the City University of New York, a former executive vice president of META Group Inc. and a former Nolan Norton Research Fellow, is being billed as “the largest comparative financial services sector study ever undertaken on customer centricity” by BusinessEdge officials.

The study finds that eighty-eight percent of the financial services companies surveyed said they exceed $5 million in customer centricity related investment, and 34% said they exceed $50 million. These companies indicated that their expectation is that return on investment will exceed 200%.

By contrast, the general cross sector picture is one of funding in the under $10 million range and includes approximately 59% of companies surveyed, with ROIs roughly equal to the level of investment, the study says.

A key to the discrepancy is the statement that “ROI is ‘key’ for business IT investment today,” says Dave Schuette, BusinessEdge chief solution strategist: “However, our study shows that while other sectors are treating customer centricity as an extended form of CRM, the financial services sector fully understands that customer centricity is more about high-value business benefits in the context of operational efficiency and compliance.”

Hack through the jargon and he’s saying that sure, other guys think “customer-centricity” means a bunch of marketing analytics, but here in financial services we know it means doing a good, efficient job for your clients and keeping your nose clean with the feds.

“Clearly customer centricity is far more than traditional CRM,” says BusinessEdge’s Schuette correctly. “Customer centricity is a relatively uncharted space. Those that have approached it as CRM-like are missing its true value.”

Yesterday Siebel Systems issued a press release to announce that… well, that its latest products are doing just fine, thank you, in case you were wondering.

The release announced the “rapid customer adoption” of its Siebel Incentive Compensation Management product. Company officials bill it as “the only offering that provides integrated ICM, CRM, and partner relationship management capabilities.”

The company gives a laundry list of customers who’ve bought SICM 7.8, including Dallas Morning News, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Equifax, IBM, JM Family/Gulf States Toyota, Northwestern Mutual, Overseas China Banking Corp., TV Cabo and Vodafone UK, but those of us here on The Siebel WatchSM would have liked to have seen the actual figures of SICM adoption, or statistics on whether adoption exceeded or fell below expectations.

The news came out late yesterday, so you might not have seen that – despite the political uncertainties in the country – Five9 Inc., an America-based provider of hosted contact center solutions, has chosen the Philippines as the site of its regional headquarters in Southeast Asia, according to the Manila Bulletin.

And for those of you heading off tomorrow morning to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival – yuppie Colorado, fertile bluegrass music country, uh huh – bring your PDAs and wireless laptops as you listen to such noted bluegrass acts as Alison Krauss and Union Station, Earl Scruggs, Stanley Clarke (ummm…), Bela Fleck, Jean-Luc Ponty (?), Jewel (?!), Bobby McFerrin(?!?) and hopefully some working bluegrass musicians as well, since for the first time festival organizers are providing wireless Internet services for the 10,000 people who are expected to attend the Festival.

ABEO, old hands at temporary and flexible wireless networks got the contract.

Just turn your damn cell phones off during the shows if you don’t want First CoffeeSM or a like-minded music fan dumping a beer over it.

If  read off-site hit for the fully-linked version. First CoffeeSM accepts no sponsored content placement, but “appreciates” a kilo of Jamaican Blue Mountain Peaberry whole bean coffee.

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