First Coffee for June 22, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for June 22, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the transcendent Lyle Lovett-Al Green duet on the Willie Nelson song “Funny How Time Slips Away,” from the 1994 Rhythm, Country and Blues album:

Things appear to be going swimmingly for at their Summer ‘05 SalesStock in San Francisco this week, where “tight integration” is the mantra. They’ve unveiled their so-called “operating system,” Multiforce 1.0, billing it as a single platform companies can use to run any and all hosted applications, add-ons plus whatever creative things your tech guys can write using Customforce 2.0.

It’s a great idea, and while First CoffeeSM’s not sure Marc Benioff will accomplish his goal of putting Microsoft out of business – although we’re rooting for him – it does force Siebel, SAP et al to take note of the new way of delivering software.

As industry observer Antone Gonsalves notes, “hopes customers will use Multiforce not just to access applications, either pre-built or custom, but also applications from partners or third-party ASPs.”

This will prove tricky, “particularly if it involves competitors,” Gonsalves says, remarking that “Got Corporation, a maker of marketing software, is the only company to announce support for the platform so far.”

GOT CEO Eric Melka jumped up on the stage with Benioff to trade stinging guitar licks – uh, to announce Campaigner for Salesforce, GOT’s “tightly integrated” e-mail communication tool for Salesforce which lets users track large volume e-mailings from within Salesforce in a two-step wizard, while unifying them with sales and customer support activities.

Good piece on what the heck happened to Epiphany on ComputerWire this morning. CEO Karen Richardson’s sunny and optimistic in the face of some pretty grim numbers – she calls her company’s net loss increasing from $4.2 million in the first quarter last year to $6.4 million this year, and revenues dropping from $20.2 million to $16.2 million “bumpy” and “seasonally challenging.”

At the end of 2004, ComputerWire says, Epiphany dropped the “E.piphany” dot in the company name “to distance itself from the dot-com era,” and refocused on “what it was first known for: analytics and marketing, following its nondescript foray into operational CRM, and restructuring the sales organization.”

Richardson says Epiphany is focused on sales and capitalizing on its niche position. The software world is splitting into really big players and niche vendors, “and I mean niche in a good way,” she says. Richardson admitted that Epiphany fell victim to its own desire to promote itself on the basis of its technology, forgetting that “even if you can build it, maybe you should not.”

Today they concentrate on big B2C verticals markets such as telcos, insurance, and financial services. They’re high on Interaction Advisor, designed to improve up-sell and resell opportunities by providing real-time advice during customer interactions.

Richardson says the company is focusing on “going in with solutions that solve very specific business problems” rather than a technology sell or a general-purpose analytics CRM approach. As ComputerWire says, “it sees itself as being additive to existing CRM implementations.” They’ve also cut their key partner list to basically Cap Gemini, Accenture, and IBM.

Niche might be nice, but now might be too late for Epiphany. “Always known for being cash rich, in the second quarter 2004 the company had a $93.4 million cash pile, but by the fourth quarter 2004 this had dwindled to $18.1 million, and at the end of the first quarter 2005 it stood at $21.5 million,” ComputerWire notes.

[According to Epiphany’s statement of results for the quarter ended March 31, 2005 Epiphany CEO Karen Richardson is quoted as saying “I am pleased that our results were within our financial guidance and we maintained our strong cash and investments balance of approximately $250 million.”]

Management Technology Consulting LLC is announcing this morning the availability of Microsoft CRM Center on its site, which it describes as a downloadable configuration system allowing “any business” to evaluate complete Microsoft CRM configurations with budgets, including “full implementation services.”

There’s a Microsoft CRM Investment Calculator, which runs on Excel and lets users “evaluate and compare a full range of solution options instantly, while printing out a complete proposal for each solution configuration,” according to company officials. Basically it lets you run a lot of “what if” scenarios and budget on the fly. President Darryl Henderson said customers “have been asking for an easier way to evaluate the complete solution cost quicker and with more flexibility.”

By the way, it came out late yesterday that the customer support facility for, the folks who provide global domain name registration and Web business services, was named a Certified Call Center by J.D. Power and Associates, the folks who provide those awards seen on car ads. is the first online services company to be recognized for providing customers with “an outstanding customer experience,” according to the certification.

Evidently’s “Handholding Included” motto isn’t just words. The company provides customers with a toll-free number to call whenever they need assistance. “Small business owners with limited time and resources just want to pick up the phone and get the job done,” said Alan Kipust, senior vice president of operations,

Power found that in 2004 the call center handled more than 1.2 million telephone, e-mail, and fax inquiries. Seventy percent of calls were answered in 50 seconds or less and 85 percent of issues were resolved during the first phone call. Only two percent of calls were referred beyond the initial Web Services Consultant who answered the phone.

Qpass is announcing that Fantastic 1 has chosen Qpass’ Content Delivery Platform and Service Management Platform for their mobile data services business.

Fantastic 1, based in Umhlanga, South Africa, provides messaging infrastructure to both the mobile network operators and a number of enterprise clients and B2C application providers. It has connectivity, including billing, into the three mobile network operators in South Africa – Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C – and, through inter-connect agreements, with 550 network operators in 170 countries.

There are an estimated 23 million subscribers in South Africa, with approximately 80% of them prepaid customers. Data services contribute 4-5% of revenue to South African mobile network operators and Fantastic 1 wants Qpass to help increase the average revenue per user and improve customer loyalty.

First CoffeeSM’s father is an American historian. When asked what was the most society-changing event in America of the 20th century, he answered “the G.I. Bill.

The G.I. Bill was signed on this day in 1944 by President Roosevelt. Written to guarantee one-year unemployment benefits to returning World War II soldiers, averting the specter of 9 million unemployed veterans washing up in a predicted postwar depression, Congress tossed in, almost as an afterthought, money for veterans to go to college.

Presidents of expensive colleges objected, fearing hordes of barely-literate roughnecks overrunning their precious campuses. Few others thought it a big deal – after all, only ten percent of all Americans went to college anyway.

But 2.2 million vets used the bill to get college educations, most of them being the first in their families ever to go to college. Professors said the vets, who raised school grade point averages and lowered dropout rates, were the most serious students they’d ever had.

It instilled in the American working and middle classes the idea that college was the ticket to a better life. The number of colleges in the United States exploded, and the number of Americans going to college hit 50 percent.

The G.I. Bill cost the government $5.5 billion, yet it helped not only avoid a depression, but kick-start one of the greatest prosperity booms in American history.

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