First Coffee for 6 February, 2006

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

First Coffee for 6 February, 2006

By David Sims

Due to incredibly frustrating technical glitches the news as of the third or fourth coffee this morning, and the music is Steve Martin’s “King Tut:”

There you go, I told you at the beginning of the year that not only would the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl, but Antwaan Randle El would have more touchdown passes than Ben Roethlisberger and the game would have the longest interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.

No doubt you bet big on that advice and are today out pricing yachts. You’re welcome.


In a move that Verizon officials say “enables customers to experience it first-hand,” Verizon is offering a free three-month trial of the iobi call-management service.

Verizon iobi is a service designed to provide access to and control of calls, voice mail, e-mail and wireless text communications from any location. It connects multiple devices, such as a user’s PC, laptop and phone, offering: access to Caller ID and Verizon’s Home Voice Mail service (not included); routing of incoming calls to voice mail or another number in real time; pre-scheduling of call forwarding; sending of e- mail and text messages; address book and calendar management; and other features.

Iobi Home also has many of the calling features that computer-based digital calling (VoIP) offers, such as interactive call logs; contact and calendar management; selective forwarding or blocking of only certain calls; playing voice mails on the computer with no dialing or codes; and forwarding voice mail as e-mail.

The user decides where to receive calls and messages and when and how to respond to them. The content of the messages is also pretty much left up to the user.

“Iobi is such a new concept, such a major leap forward, that the only way customers can fully appreciate all of the advantages the service has to offer is to try it for themselves,” said Margo Howell, product manager for iobi Home.

Customers who order iobi Home online now can get it free for the first 90 days. To be eligible, customers must currently be using any one of the Verizon Freedom calling plans. The 90-day trial is not available through Verizon call centers.

Iobi’s “control panel” is available on-screen by using a small downloaded software program; or via a Web site accessible by any connected computer; or via a voice portal that uses voice recognition to help users navigate and activate or deactivate features, or to manage calls and messages, hands-free.

Iobi Home is driven by a Verizon-proprietary data platform that integrates the Verizon wireline network with other networks and with the Internet. This enables otherwise separate networks to work with each other. For example, with iobi Home, a user can view on the computer a list of all incoming calls and voicemail messages and can play or forward voice messages, linking the PC to the phone network and to the voice mail platform.

Internet Service Provider EarthLink today announced its latest voice offering for consumers, EarthLink DSL and Home Phone Service. This voice and data product combines full phone service with high-speed Internet access.

The service initially launches in Dallas, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. Customers in these markets will have the option of trying the bundle’s broadband technology that, company officials say, delivers high speed service up to 8 mbps.

EarthLink Home Phone Service operates during a power outage, supports enhanced 911 calling, requires no additional hardware, works with existing phone jacks and equipment, and offers custom calling features.

EarthLink DSL and Home Phone Service includes standard phone features like caller ID and voicemail, and options like call prioritization and blocking and click-to-dial. Customers also receive Internet protection tools like Spyware Blocker and spamBlocker, and the company’s customer service and support.

Customers manage their voice service through their myVoice portal, which integrates their phone and e-mail contact information into a single address book. Address book changes are automatically updated on the servers, regardless of phone numbers, physical addresses or email addresses, ensuring consistency between services.

EarthLink officials claim this new addition to EarthLink’s voice services “marries the ‘last mile’ of traditional telephone copper wiring with the advanced features of Voice over IP (VoIP) by taking advantage of next-generation Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer technology that offers higher-speed broadband access (ADSL 2+, G.SHDSL).” Phone calls will be delivered over EarthLink’s managed national networks rather than the public Internet.

Pricing plans for EarthLink’s DSL and Home Phone Service start at $49.95 per month.

A new ABI Research study of RFID tracking in the pharmaceutical industry, anticipates that no more than about ten medications will be tagged on a large scale during 2006, according to company officials.

Quite a change from last year, when the evidence suggested a nearly 3.5-fold increase in life-sciences RFID transponder shipments between 2005 and 2006.

What slammed the brakes on? According to Sara Shah, ABI Research’s industry analyst for RFID and M2M research, much of it’s cost, as well as to a retreat from the “irrational exuberance” – really going to miss Alan Greenspan, I tell you folks – of early market hype and a desire to execute small-scale pilots before committing to full deployments.

One important inhibitor of this market concerns legislation “on hold.” The United States Prescription Drug Marketing Act of 1988, ABI explains, requires biotech and pharmaceutical manufacturers to prove they have processes in place to prevent the diversion of drugs. This encompasses the idea of “pedigree,” or the ability to trace a shipment’s “chain of custody” at all stages from manufacturing to delivery.

“The PDMA caused an uproar,” says Shah, “because there was no way that companies could achieve that within the specified time.”

So the law was subjected to a temporary “stay,” and has not been enforced to date. Certain states then decided that they would enact their own pedigree laws, due to increased drug counterfeiting.

The first was Florida: its pedigree law is scheduled to commence in July 2006. California followed suit; its regulation goes into effect in January 2007.

Coincidentally, that is also when the moratorium on enforcement of the PDMA expires, and is the target set by FDA guidelines for widespread use of drug shipment tracking. It is clear that the FDA’s RFID expectations will not be met, as many companies plan to use barcodes to satisfy state pedigree laws.

“There is a potential that the market will slow more if state pedigree laws are pushed back,” says Shah. “Initially, only high-value, frequently-counterfeited or stolen drugs such as Pfizer’s Viagra and Perdue Pharma’s OxyContin are likely to be tagged.”

Merced Systems Inc., a vendor of contact center and operational performance management applications, today announced the release of Merced Performance Suite 2.7.

The Merced Performance Suite is designed to increase the efficiency of contact centers by consolidating data from disparate sources, delivering analytics, providing personalized dashboards, and integrating workflow and process improvement tools.

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