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August 2005

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First Coffee for August 31, 2005

August 31, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “Worried About You,” one of the sweetest soul songs the Rolling Stones – a vastly underrated soul band – recorded:

Interesting that Microsoft has bought Teleo, a privately-held San Francisco VoIP company which uses the same voice-processing software from Global IP Sound that Google and Skype use.  Of course – Google’s jumping into VoIP, Microsoft wants to keep up.

It had to happen sooner or later, someone coming along and organizing all the toys, add-ons, gizmos and general Skype paraphernalia the way people used to hold competitions to see how many different ways one could trick out a Volkswagen Beetle.

Skype has held its first developer competition, awarding Jybe the first prize. More than 100 developers entered the competition, open to pretty much anyone. Luxembourg-based Skype claims there are currently over 400 hardware and software products that integrate with Skype.

(Luxembourg note of the day: Kudos to Gilles Muller, who as far as First CoffeeSM can remember is the First LuxembourgerSM to compete in the U.S.

First Coffee for August 30, 2005

August 30, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Weird Al Yankovic’s “She Never Told Me She Was A Mime.” That’s the great thing about having kids, you get socially acceptable excuses to play with Hot Wheels, read Where The Wild Things Are and Harold And the Purple Crayon again and listen to Weird Al, the musical and spiritual heir to Spike Jones:

First CoffeeSM’s mild-mannered reporter alter ego virtually sat down with RightNow Technologies’ founder and CEO Greg Gianforte for a Q&A as he explained why he’s not afraid of Microsoft and SAP, why there’s a lot more to business than money, The Big Idea, impressing candidates you’re recruiting by letting them camp in the snow and the competitive advantage of the tater pig.

Excerpts here today, the full interview on Thursday on the TMC site:

Hi Greg, thanks for taking time out with us today. You’ve already tried retiring once, if you leave RightNow would it be to retire or start something else?

I’m not sure the whole concept of “retirement” as we generally understand it is really valid. We all have skills and resources, and it’s really our responsibility to use those skills and resources in a worthwhile manner. Putting them on the shelf doesn’t seem very appealing or even ethical to me.

There are those who say the on-demand space is a three-way horserace between you, salesforce.com and NetSuite.

First Coffee for August 29, 2005

August 29, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Alabama’s “Song Of the South:”

Wait, first we have to take our doctor-recommended dose of cancer-preventing antioxidants here, hang on a sec… okay, there we go. Gotta do what’s healthy, y’know.

First CoffeeSM doesn’t much like the dog days of August, when news is scarce on the ground, too much like working for a living. Hey, readers in N’Awlins, isn’t it about time y’all went to stay with your in-laws in Shreveport for a while?

New Zealand is making the most audacious change in the 100-year history of its national telephone network, ripping out its public switched telephone network and hiring Alcatel to replace it with an internet protocol network, at a cost of about $200 million New Zealand dollars, about $139 million in American dollars, The Dominion Post is reporting, citing sources in the national capital of Wellington. Go Kiwis.

“It has already spent about $130 million upgrading its six core telecommunications switches and revamping its billing systems, partly in preparation for the move to IP,” according to the news report.

New Zealand Telecom says the project is part of a $1 billion investment in a next-generation telephony network plan, architected last year “following a recommendation by the Commerce Commission, accepted by the Cabinet, that it would not have to give competitors access to the new infrastructure,” the Post says:

The plan calls for Telecom to get rid of about 600 of its 700 telephone exchanges, replacing the other 100 with fiber optic cable running to roadside cabinets, “the first point of aggregation for home phone lines, typically supporting a few hundred households.” The work is expected to stretch out over several years.

It’s possible that the roadside cabinets will be equipped with remote concentrators allowing Telecom to deliver triple play services of on-demand video, broadband internet and IP-based voice services.

Telecom says it will support traditional switched circuit phone calls until at least 2012, but hasn’t made any promises beyond that.

Whew. Time for more antioxidants, can’t be too careful, cancer running in the family and all that.

First Coffee for August 26, 2005

August 26, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Beethoven’s Sonata For Piano and Violin No. 5, op. 24:

Public service request: A reader writes to First CoffeeSM and says “Do you have any info concerning ORASCOM doing business in the US. I know about a the deal with Motorola. Anything else you recall seeing?”

Nothing else First CoffeeSM’s seen, any other readers know anything?

A tip of the coffee pot to Gordon Coburn, named to ICT Group’s Board of Directors. Mr. Coburn will also serve on the Audit Committee of the Board.

First Coffee for August 25, 2005

August 25, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is silky smooth pop with lyrics etched in acid, Carry On Up the Charts: The Best Of the Beautiful South:

Recently Anurag Wadehra, Vice-President of Marketing and Product Management of Siperian, which is big into Customer Data Integration products, took the time to answer some questions from First CoffeeSM’s mild-mannered reporter alter ego. Excerpts appear below. The full interview, including Anurag’s thoughts on what’s coming next for CDI will be published Monday on the TMC site.

Hi Anurag, thanks for taking the time with us. What exactly is Customer Data Integration?

Customer Data Integration, or CDI as it is often referred to, is a new software category which combines the necessary technology, processes and services needed to create and maintain an accurate, timely and complete view of a customer.

Sounds like the Holy Grail.

First Coffee for August 24, 2005

August 24, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the pinnacle of pop-rock, 1968’s Something Else by The Kinks – more fun than The Beatles, more rock than Pet Sounds and way more intelligent than anything else at the time:

“It’s really a Dantesque scene,” said police officer Arioso Obregon.

Another plane goes down, this one in Peru. First CoffeeSM isn’t a paranoid conspiracy theorist, except when it comes to the left-wing MSM never giving President Bush any credit for anything whatsoever – the man could single-handedly cure cancer and the headlines would be “Cancer Researchers Thrown Out Of Work By Bush,” “Leukemia Sufferers: Why Is Bush Ignoring Us?” and “Cancer Cure Too Late For Many” and TV coverage would focus on AIDS activists protesting the lack of a cure for AIDS and one six-year old Hispanic girl in Albuquerque who will have died of cancer a week before the cure became available, with the family crying that “people like us” don’t matter enough to Bush for him to find that cure a little bit faster – but doesn’t it seem like there’ve been quite a few plane crashes recently?

Or maybe First CoffeeSM’s just thinking of his family’s upcoming trip to see Mrs. First CoffeeSM’s family in New Zealand, which will entail that old favorite Antalya- Istanbul- Dubai- Singapore- Brisbane- Auckland itinerary, and back again. We don’t need to be reading about more plane crashes for a while, okay?

The news yesterday was that CRM is “back,” that the market’s going great guns again.

Half right.

Remember 1979? That year a single named “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang hit the charts.

First Coffee for August 23, 2005

August 23, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Billie Holiday’s Lady In Autumn: The Best of The Verve Years, a 1991 compilation of her late recordings:

Got one of the more interesting comments in a while yesterday on something in the column. Yes, First CoffeeSM does get some great responses, and we also get… well, some of you people have way too much free time on your hands.

A senior executive from a 9-1-1 service provider who asked to remain anonymous wrote in response to First CoffeeSM’s meditation (i.e. slightly unhinged rant) on Nuvio’s lawsuit challenging the wisdom of the Federal Communications Commission giving VoIPers 120 days to conform to the outmoded emergency 9-1-1 technology they’re in the process of rendering obsolete to say that actually, Karl Rove had nothing to do with it, Joe Wilson’s the one who outed his wife, Valerie Plame as a CIA agent when the lying buffoon shot off his mouth to The Nation and The New York Times… uh, sorry, wrong anonymous source…

“Read your piece about the Nuvio lawsuit,” the exec writes. “Of course we all agree that Nuvio is just trying to buy time.

First Coffee for August 22, 2005

August 22, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an iPod mix, current song “Jerry Springer” by Weird Al Yankovic:

This came out last Friday afternoon, so maybe you missed it (too), but customer support outsourcer Sitel Corp., has announced that it’s completed a $145 million refinancing package, consisting of a senior revolving credit facility of $90 million and two term loans totaling $55 million.

Proceeds from the new financing will be used “to retire the Company’s 9 ¼ percent senior subordinated notes, due March 2006, replace the existing credit facility due December 2005, and provide funds for working capital and other general corporate purposes,” according to company officials.

The senior subordinated notes will be redeemed in September 2005 at the face value of $83.8 million, plus interest. The refinancing will result in an estimated non-cash charge in the third quarter of 2005 of approximately $0.4 million to write-off remaining debt issuance costs.

A couple weeks ago the Omaha, Nebraska-based announced Q2 net income of $3.2 million, or 4 cents per share, compared with $2.5 million, or 3 cents per share, for Q2 2004.

LoJack for Laptops – does it work? According to an evaluation by David Andelman, yes it does. If you don’t mind the way the system works, it might be a good idea for you.

Absolute Software's LoJack for Laptops used to be called CompuTrace, Andelman says.

First Coffee for August 19, 2005

August 19, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the 1993 Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, the all-star Madison Square Garden tribute to ol’ Minnesota Mudthroat, and when we say “tribute,” we don’t mean a bunch of bands you’ve never heard of phoning in covers, we’re talking Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Ron Wood, George Harrison, Eddie Vedder, Lou Reed, John Mellencamp, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Winter, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and Chrissie Hynde, Roger McGuinn, Levon Helm, Shawn Colvin, Tracy Chapman – where else do you get the greatest country, soul, Irish, rock and folk acts sharing the stage with a Beatle? Well, now that Cash and Harrison are dead the answer is nowhere, but you get the point, we’re talking guys who usually get tribute concerts showing up to pay tribute to Bob … huh? Oh, right, sorry, the frustrated rock critic will shut up now:

First CoffeeSM wrote a while ago about Concerto Software and Aspect Communications merging, today they’ve announced that the combined company will be named Aspect Software. Like when Chrysler “merged” with Daimler-Benz, the merged name was “Daimler Chrysler,” which is pronounced “Daimler.”

What’s interesting is this lawsuit filed by Nuvio which is, in reality, a plea by VoIP to please let us do it a better way, don’t make us conform to a dying technology.

Now that the VoIP industry’s grumblingly accepted the government’s authority to regulate, they want it to be as enlightened as possible and not to get in the way of business.

First Coffee for August 18, 2005

August 18, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Alan Parsons Project’s Poe project, Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, the only album of theirs worth buying:

A decision that VoIP should not be monopolized by Philippine telcos is expected next week from the country’s National Telecommunications Commission, according to Business World.

The two-year debate on who can offer VoIP and on what terms is expected to end with a ruling that while VoIP may be provided by the state telcos, it can also be offered commercially by companies such as ISPs.

Deputy Commissioner Jorge V. Sarmiento said the final NTC ruling will not veer from the “essence” of the last draft ruling issued in March, which said VoIP falls under the definition of VAS in the 1995 Philippine Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines or Republic Act 7925, Business World said:

“VoIP is expected to drastically drive down monthly telecommunication charges in the Philippines. With VoIP, the NTC expects international call rates to drop to $0.10 a minute from $0.40 a minute.”

NetSuite’s happy – as they should be, as they should be – with the decision of the St. John Sea Dogs, a team in an organization called the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, to adopt NetSuite.

Sorry, if First CoffeeSM knew or cared the first thing about hockey there’d be some cute hockey terminology in a pun here, but frankly it rates in interest somewhere just south of test cricket and just north of buzkashi, the national sport of Afghanistan, where teams of men on horseback try to pitch a headless goat carcass across a goal line. Games may last as long as a week. Anything goes.

NetSuite also counts the Oakland Athletics major league baseball team as a customer.

As a start-up hockey franchise, the Sea Dogs team realized it needed consistent, targeted communication to season ticket holders and potential fan base.

First Coffee for August 17, 2005

August 17, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Crosby, Stills & Nash’s CSN. Clever album titles from those guys – Crosby, Stills & Nash and CSN:

Ever hear of Spotster? First CoffeeSM hadn’t either, but this sounds like a cool product. They have a search engine they’re introducing today, which they describe as “targeted at the specific needs of business professionals looking for information within their industry.”

The search service creates “a comprehensive vertical industry web” that delivers search results to industry professionals. It’s live in beta and is available at www.spotster.net.

Spotster has introduced the service for three targeted industry segments including Customer Relationship Management, Integration & Web Services and Radio Frequency Identification.

Industry-specific search and research has become more difficult on traditional search engines – Google, et al – which lack a focus on industry-specific sites. There’s also all the search engine spam to wade through, irrelevant – i.e.

First Coffee for August 16, 2005

August 16, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Other Stewart, Rod’s 1971 masterpiece Every Picture Tells A Story:

Today’s Reader Of The Day is Peter Moore who, when challenged by yesterday’s column to name Al Stewart albums other than Year Of the Cat and Time Passages, rattled off eleven more, including one, Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time, a rarities and B-sides collection which First CoffeeSM’s never heard. Well done.

Sedona Corp., which sells their Intarsia CRM to small and mid-size financial institutions such as insurance companies, community and regional banks and credit unions, has announced Q2 revenues of $229,000 compared to $407,000 reported in the same period one year ago.

Revenue from license fees and royalties increased to $87,000 from $80,000 in 2004, a jump company officials attribute to additional sales from one of the company’s partners.

Service revenues decreased to $142,000 compared to $327,000 reported one year ago. The reduction was due to a $300,000 decrease in related party revenue recognized in 2004.

Total revenues for the first six months of 2005 were $386,000, compared to $694,000 reported in 2004.

Their net loss for the three months ended June 30, 2005 was $641,000, or ($0.01) per share, compared to $611,000, or ($0.01) per share reported in the second quarter of 2004. For the six months ended June 30, 2005, the net loss was $1,458,000, or ($0.02) per share, compared to $1,343,000, or ($.02) per share, reported for same period in 2004.

Chalk up another milestone for Avaya: According to company officials, they’ve just shipped their seven millionth line, for ING Vysya Bank, a private Indian bank.

Avaya said its IP line shipments surpassed traditional line shipments this year, further demonstrating Avaya’s global momentum in a growing market.

The Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based IP telephony company claims to be the “worldwide leader in IP telephony line shipments for first quarter 2005 with a 21 percent share,” citing research from the Synergy Research Group.

Jeremy Duke, president and CEO, Synergy Research Group noted that “the adoption of IP telephony by enterprises is growing markedly, as demonstrated by a more than 70 percent year-over-year growth noted in the first quarter of this year,” opining that “the major part of the adoption curve still lies ahead.”

In 2004, IP telephony accounted for eight percent of the 423 million total enterprise telephony lines installed worldwide, but that number increases almost daily.

First Coffee for August 15, 2005

August 15, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is five Al Stewart CDs on the changer. Here’s betting you don’t have five – here’s betting you can’t name five Al Stewart CDs, and we’ll spot you The Year Of The Cat and Time Passages:

Pro-SAAP Solutions is announcing the launch of what they’re calling “a powerful new web based business management” product, Version 5.0,) for the newspaper and magazine publishing industry that will, the company claims, “support a dramatic technological advance for companies that adopt the strategy.”

It’s being pitched to “newspapers and publishing businesses” who have dreamed of “jumping directly from a 1980s era legacy application to 21st Century Web based information processing.” Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It was developed by a guy who never has to spell his name over the phone, Sibusiso Tshabalala, President & CEO Pro-SAAP, LLC, nicknamed who’s described in company materials as “an entrepreneur who managed the advertising and online systems infrastructure for… publishing firms, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Ziff-Davis.”

It’s designed, company officials say, to use the investment companies have made in existing mainframe systems. “In contrast,” they claim, publishing industry products “from application software vendors like PeopleSoft, SAP, etc. require ripping out the existing infrastructure and can cost several million dollars in software license fees and implementation services.”

The Pro-SAAP product, company officials claim, “can be implemented at a fraction of the cost.”

Tshabalala said Pro-SAAP’s product helps publishing companies migrate “from legacy technologies into a web-based environment at a fraction of the cost of implementing a new ERP class application.”

It works with the Admarc software used by a little over half of the newspaper and magazine publishing firms in North America. It “can be implemented in a matter of months, and “typical implementations are expected to cost between $250,000-500,000,” company officials say.

This was announced over the weekend, but First CoffeeSM was hip-deep in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, hopefully you were too.

First Coffee for August 12, 2005

August 12, 2005

Ugandan Jewish coffee seller J.J. Keki, left, leader of Uganda's Abayudaya Jewish community, with his son and two colleagues. Photo by Laura Wetzler.

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Everybody’s Bach:

ELoyalty Corporation, an enterprise CRM consulting company, has posted a net loss of $2.9 million for the period ended July 2, 2005.

For the second quarter of 2005, eLoyalty reported total revenue of $19.6 million, an increase of 8 percent over the comparable period last year, but a net loss of $2.9 million, “which is unfavorable by $2.5 million,” according to company officials’ rather elegant phrasing, “when compared to the second quarter of 2004.”

The net loss available to common shareholders was $0.52 a share, compared to a net loss of $0.13 a share in the second quarter of 2004. ELoyalty realized non-GAAP “Adjusted Earnings” measure loss of $0.2 million for the second quarter of 2005.

In addition, the company recorded a restructuring charge of $0.5 million in the second quarter of 2005.

First Coffee for August 11, 2005

August 11, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a song so good you wonder if James Taylor really wrote it, “Mexico:”

A couple columns ago First CoffeeSM ranted about how companies wishing to “do CRM” run out and buy a lot of shiny new technology from a big name vendor, unpack it, plug it in and pat themselves on the back for having gotten that taken care of, just wait for the improved customer satisfaction scores to roll in, what’s next week, ERP?

There’s no excuse for that – First CoffeeSM and former colleague Bob Thompson of CRMGuru told you that wasn’t the way to do it in 2000. We can’t understand why there still seems to be a problem – didn’t we tell you the right way to do it?

The impetus for that particular splenetic columnar rant – it doesn’t take much, folks, it really doesn’t – was a report Forrester did on the dissatisfaction with CRM vendors from such companies. First CoffeeSM has less than zero sympathy for such companies, since 99.7 percent of the time they screwed up the process themselves, and blame the technology for the resultant mess the way some clod who spills coffee on her hand will blame McDonald’s.

Got a note from William Band about the column:

David- I wrote the Forrester report on CRM enterprise suite vendors. I fully agree with the points in your article.

First Coffee for August 10, 2005

August 10, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a Beach Boys-Frank Sinatra mix. It actually makes a lot of sense:

RightNow Technologies is announcing a couple new products as well as a flagship product upgrade this morning.

First there’s RightNow Telesales, what the folks out there in beautiful Bozeman, Montana are calling “the on-demand CRM market’s first comprehensive solution for inbound and outbound telephone sales automation.” It’s designed to automate workflow processes and streamline management tasks.

“Historically we’ve built stuff to handle inbound calls,” RightNow founder Greg Gianforte told First CoffeeSM. They found, however, that their customers “want help with outbound calls. We studied it, realized that the way people do this today is a manager gets numbers,” and ends up mucking around with spreadsheets.

RightNow saw a needs for help with workload and management metrics, “so we built a solution for agent and manager to create campaigns tailored about specific selection criteria, and which then automatically distributes workload to the telesales unit.”

The product, RightNow Telesales, provides an intuitive, graphical campaign workflow designer that allows managers to “easily create call lists based on any number of segmentation filters, assign calls to sales representatives based on territory assignments or other criteria, and to distribute call scripts that optimize articulation of the sales message,” according to a RightNow spokesman. Related sales tasks-such as follow-up calls, letters, and emails-can also be automated as part of these campaigns.

RightNow Telesales can generate personalized call lists showing salespeople the calls they need to make for each campaign, as well as those that need to be followed up from previous campaigns.

They’re also releasing SmartGuide today. That’s a new CRM product designed to guide customers and service agents through “intuitive decision-tree” logic. This gives users a series of diagnostic questions to guide them to their answer.

Using RightNow’s patented AI technology, SmartGuide automatically improves its own effectiveness over time by learning from each user’s interactions. As more users interact with the system, it “learns” how to get them to answer faster.

“It’s basically a decision tree template on top of an existent database,” Gianforte said.

First Coffee for August 9, 2005

August 9, 2005

First CoffeeSM’s very first ad…

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Beethoven’s String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 132:

Kintera Inc. specializes in fund-raising and customer management tools for nonprofits, which right now is a good description of the company itself. Late yesterday afternoon the Associated Press reported that Kintera “will restate first-quarter earnings to reclassify the way it accounts for development costs, a move that is seen increasing its losses during the period.”

Kintera won’t release their Q2 results until the restatement comes out. It won’t be good news for the software maker, whose shares fell 16 cents to $3.83 in electronic trading after the announcement. It’s not like their originally-stated results, a loss of $7 million on revenues of $9.5 million were that great to begin with.

Had a good talk with RightNow president and founder Greg Gianforte yesterday.

First Coffee for August 8 2005

August 8, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is one of the great rock songs ever, Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” from their Greatest Hits. People forget how good she was before she went pop – “Sweet Rhode Island Red,” “Nutbush City Limits,” “Sexy Ida,” great rock’n’roll. Now, well, can her Tin Pan Alley tribute album be far off?

ECI Telecom is announcing that SDN Communications, South Dakota’s largest communications network, has selected ECI’s ST200 multi-service edge routers to deliver enhanced IP services.

ECI acquired the ST200 product line when the picked up Pittsburgh-based Laurel Networks this June. SDN is hoping for a smooth migration to an advanced IP/MPLS network.

Already operational, the new network lets SDN offer Virtual Private Networks and other services to its customers. “Equipment installation was completed in early June and we’re already seeing incremental revenue opportunities,” said Mark Shlanta, Chief Executive Officer of SDN Communications.

SDN Communications, a regional telecommunications provider, consists of 27 independent telephone companies covering 75 percent of South Dakota’s geography, transmitting voice, video, and data over 5,000 miles of fiber.

In a story that TMC would gain great advantage sending First CoffeeSM to cover personally, LogiSense Corporation, an IP Billing/OSS and network software vendor to service providers and enterprises, along with Gemtek Systems are announcing that their integrated product has been selected by Caribbean Systems Inc. to deliver Wi-Fi services to hotels, timeshare/apartment blocks, Internet cafés, restaurants, colleges, and libraries on St. Martin.

Ran across an interesting bit of news from Croatia this morning, it catches one’s attention when a news advisory starts “Ever since the first voice conferences were introduced many years ago, if participants were unfamiliar with each other’s voices or the line conditions were poor, there was the same question hanging in the air: ‘Who’s talking right now?’”

Evidently the company, Uniqall from Zagreb thinks “getting voice activity data at times from multiple active talkers, in a continuous manner, and the presentation of this data to the conference participants, were typical problems that always induced headaches for developers of conferencing and collaboration software.”

That’s right, we’re not dealing with a slick, native-English speaking press release writer here, which is fine by First CoffeeSM.

Uniqall is releasing today, “for free evaluation and download,” the first beta of its upcoming Gridborg HMP Server 1.1 software, which it promises “will be the building block that is going to make life easier for developers of advanced voice conferencing, collaboration and contact center applications.”

In the Gridborg HMP “world,” Uniqall says, “there are no physical analog ports on voice cards or their digital TDM equivalents that are restricted by the processing capabilities of a particular DSP behind them.

First Coffee for August 5, 2005

August 5, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is 1993’s Cracker:

First CoffeeSM’s been hearing about that Forrester Research report earlier this week discovering that the market’s “rife with dissatisfied customers… betting millions of dollars on products and services that do not fully satisfy their needs,” says one report.

Well, duh, if you’re just “betting” you deserve to lose. If you’re “intelligently investing,” that’s something else. First CoffeeSM can almost hear his old friend and colleague Bob Thompson, founder of CRMGuru.com shouting “It’s not about the technology! CRM’s an attitude, an approach, not buying a bunch of stuff!” Amen, Bob, you were right then and you’re still right now. All those jeremiads we wrote…

It’s curious that the Forrester report would only evaluate and rank four CRM players, Amdocs, Oracle, SAP and Siebel, and no hosted products.

First Coffee for August 4, 2005

August 4, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is – still – Exile On Main Street, which just never seemed to get taken out of the CD player from yesterday. Might even see it again tomorrow:

Yesterday afternoon SSA Global Technologies, Inc., a vendor of extended enterprise solutions and services announced they’re buying CRM vendor Epiphany in a deal worth $329 million, or $4.20 per share for the shareholders of Epiphany.

Epiphany’s product suite includes sales, service, marketing, and customer analytics applications, based on a similar services-oriented architecture and built using the same Java 2 Enterprise Edition technology, as the recently released SSA Technology Architecture.

Mike Greenough, chairman, president and CEO of SSA Global said “with Epiphany, we expect to enhance SSA CRM.”

Epiphany, which styled itself E.piphany until about 2001 when everything “dot-com” became verboten, overextended themselves a few years ago and never really recovered through their strategy of concentrating on verticals. Still they had a nice client roster, including Nestle, the Gap, Citibank, and Microsoft.

Josh Greenbaum, chief industry analyst for Enterprise Applications Consulting tells industry observer Ephraim Schwartz that with moves like this, picking up distressed companies, SSA is, in Schwartz’s words, “setting itself up to be one of the three or four major contenders” in the mid-market space.

“It will quickly become SSA versus Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP,” Greenbaum said, noting that SSA wants to be the one with the biggest customer base and the most competitive applications: “They already have a worldwide distribution channel,” Greenbaum tells Schwartz.

Focusing mainly on manufacturing, distribution, and retail, SSA offers ERP, BPM, product lifecycle management and supplier-relationship management, Schwartz says.

A new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor finds that analytical customer relationship management technology, considered the logical evolution of the CRM lifecycle, is being adopted by enterprises on a broader global scale.

The report, cleverly titled “Analytical CRM,” forecasts global enterprise investment in aCRM will grow from an estimated $2.3 billion today to over $3 billion in 2009, “spelling good news for those technology vendors that operate in this space.”

That doesn’t sound exactly like an industry blowing wide open to First CoffeeSM, but hey, were you to promise this columnist a 30 percent raise between now and 2009 he wouldn’t sneeze at it.

First Coffee for August 3, 2005

August 3, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and we have a good ol’ classic rockfest on the CD changer, the Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Neil Young’s Live Rust, The Allman Brothers’ Eat A Peach… about as good as rock got before it died in the ‘90s:

Living here on the Mediterranean has its advantages, one of which is, well, the Mediterranean Sea itself.

First CoffeeSM usually preps for the day by doing laps in the pool, but today went along with a good friend to some rocks overlooking the sea, jumped in – scariest part of the whole day – and did some serious swimming, watching fish – a school of flying fish took off right in front of First CoffeeSM and his friend, trying to get the watches snagged on rocks in the shallows and swallowing salt water.

First CoffeeSM swam in college, so chlorine’s a daily nutrient as far as he’s concerned, but if there’s any more of this ocean swimming in the future his freestyle breathing motion needs to be adjusted so not quite as much salt water’s ingested.

It is great not to have to stop to flip turn at the pool wall, just swim as long as you can. Disorienting at first not to have the blue stripe at the bottom of the pool to follow, to have to reckon by the coast line, but a great morning.

First CoffeeSM will be in San Francisco in September for salesforce.com’s Dreamforce event – yep, get the beer cold, Andrew – but wishes he could be there, flowers in his hair, for the “madhouse” that is TMC’s VoIP Developer Conference.

“TMC’s VoIP Developer Conference is a madhouse. It truly is,” says Rich Tehrani, TMC’s president. “The conferences started about 20 minutes ago and we have been scrambling to get more chairs to put into the sessions to keep up with all the people.

First Coffee for August 2, 2005

August 2, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Jim White’s 1997 CD Wrong-Eyed Jesus:

Always nice to run into a new product or company in the course of work, that’s one thing that keeps this job more interesting than washing windows or some other jobs First CoffeeSM’s had, and today there’s Creative Manager, Inc., which makes Creative Project Manager and Creative Manager Pro, and has evidently released version 7.95 of its flagship product, “with improvements to the integrated calendar for both Mac OS and Windows users,” company officials promise.

So what is this product? According to company officials, it’s “the only ad agency software and project management software for the creative design industry, created exclusively for design firms, ad agencies, in-house creative/mar-com departments, and creative service firms.”

It’s web-based integrated project management and job tracking solution which “streamlines the entire firm, from developing new business, to staffing, managing, and executing projects through to accounting and financial reporting.”

Works for business journalists too, at least for those who can’t tackle the above chores with a cheap notebook, whiteboard and paper bag for receipts. Those of us who run high-tech operations have a different manila folder for each month’s receipts.

Creative Manager Pro supports CRM, document management, shared calendaring, accounting and other functionalities.

First Coffee for August 1, 2005

August 1, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is three Frank Sinatra and two swing CDs on the changer. It’s going to be a good morning:

As part of First CoffeeSM’s occasional series of interviews with important types in the CRM and contact center space, we have an interview with CobbleSoft Chairman, CEO and minority owner Richard Stevenson.

A Brit living in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state – if First CoffeeSM moves back to America that’s one place under heavy consideration, that and the Shenandoah Valley – Stevenson’s just overseen CobbleSoft’s release of Version 3 of its flagship product, COIGN, web-based help desk and service management software.

Excerpts are printed here, the complete interview appears as an article by First CoffeeSM’s mild-mannered reporter alter ego on the TMC site:

Richard, thanks for your time. What do you find are the best CDs to play at work?

A pleasure, David.  Recently, I discovered Aria 3, Metamorphosis by Brit Paul Schwartz. It is incredibly powerful music, inspired by his love of rock and opera – you should play it for First Coffee… you never know when you walk into my office if you’ll hear The Who, South American salsa or classical.

To the uninitiated, in as plain English as possible, can you explain what it is that COIGN brings to the market that isn’t being, uh, brought anywhere else?

COIGN was one of the first truly web-based helpdesk products, and certainly the first to use Apache/Oracle for the middle tier, as opposed to Microsoft’s IIS. Developed exclusively for the Oracle Database… where COIGN adds value over and above other products is the sense of collaborative ownership it generates, whereby support does not have to be limited to IT or the helpdesk. CobbleSoft believes there are vast amounts of knowledge spread throughout any organization, and COIGN enables you to tap into that knowledge, resulting in faster and more accurate service and resolution.

In the past you’ve mentioned other products, that CobbleSoft is being asked to come in to deployments and do better.

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