First Coffee for 16 February, 2006

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

First Coffee for 16 February, 2006

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modesto Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition:

Sorry there was no column yesterday, let’s just say the privatization of Turk Telecom can’t come too fast for me.

RightNow Technologies has announced that it’s decided to strengthen its focus on the public sector needs. Maybe they read the recent First CoffeeSM column on how the Department of Defense decided what the heck, let’s double this guy’s contract from $200-odd million to $400-odd million. Great kind of customer to have, government.

RightNow is already hitting the sector pretty hard, they have over 125 public-sector customers around the world already, including the Army Corps of Engineers, Canberra Connect ACT Government, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration… all the way down to the State of Colorado Department of Revenue, and Sydney Water.

Efficiencies do result. At the Environmental Protection Agency, RightNow quickly produced a 70-plus percent reduction in email volume in participating offices RightNow officials claim. They say they did it because their “intelligent workflow routing” makes it easier for EPA agents to route issues that are outside of their domain expertise.

“Public-sector organizations are driven by very different missions than their private-sector counterparts, and thus require their technology partners to be knowledgeable about their particular objectives and functional constraints,” Steven Nesenblatt, VP of RightNow’s government team.

Another win for the good folks over at Sage Software, who are announcing that Aspyra, a global provider of clinical and diagnostic information products for the healthcare industry, has deployed Sage CRM SalesLogix integrated with Sage MAS 90 ERP to equip its on-premises and mobile employees with real-time access to customer sales and support data (draw breath).

The combined Sage Software product has, according to Sage officials, “streamlined Aspyra’s sales prospecting efforts, improved day-to-day business administration and increased customer satisfaction.”

Since deploying Sage CRM SalesLogix with Sage MAS 90 ERP integration, Aspyra has seen full adoption by the more than 100 employees using the system, and Aspyra officials report improved sales forecasting accuracy and decreased resolution times for customer support inquiries. Additionally, a global update rollout feature eliminates the need for Aspyra’s system administrator to apply new CRM functionality and customizations to individual user desktops.

The pastor of my church in high school had a favorite saying that “Man’s solutions become his problems.” He would’ve laughed – probably is laughing – at Australia’s cane toad problem.

It’s a conviction of this column that everything is connected, no man is an island, blah blah blah, English majors with experience washing windows and playing guitar in Boston subways can rise in the world to become customer relationship management writers, lessons learned in one area of human endeavor can apply in others, meaningless sports clichés serve admirably as meaningless business motivation seminars clichés, pictures of mountains make nice backdrops for motivational slogans, a failed explorer named Shackleford can launch a thousand success in business management books, all of which manage to ignore the fact that he was most famous for failing, etc. The web of life.

Jesus and other religious leaders used a lot of parables about seemingly unrelated things like sheep and coins, pearls and dissolute sons to make great points about God. So draw up a chair, get a cup of coffee, make yourself comfortable and hear ye the parable of the cane toad:

In the early 20th century Australia had a problem. One of its major crops, sugar cane, was being eaten by cane beetles. This was a Bad Thing. One reason the beetles thrived is they had no natural predators.

Australians searched around for someone else who had solved the problem of bugs eating their sugar cane and noticed that hey, Hawaii has a lot of sugar cane and not much problem with insect pests. Hawaiian officials said yeah, we have this toad, Bufo marinus, does a pretty good job keeping the bugs down.

Australian officials wanted to see if that would solve their problems, so they took a (no doubt government-paid) trip to Hawaii, went into a room, threw some of the cane beetles that had been destroying Australia’s sugar cane on the table in front of the toads, who ate them up. Great. Bring ‘em over.

Cane toads were brought to Australia, which had no native toad species – in other words, no natural predators, they could reproduce at will. All the better, wildlife officials thought. They took the boxes of toads to the sugar cane fields and released them, went back to the nearest pub and raised a beer to celebrate. Go get ‘em, toads.

What no Australian noticed, and what no Hawaiian thought to mention, however, is that in Hawaii the bugs the cane toads ate lived at the bottom of the sugar cane plant, on the ground. The beetles destroying the Australian sugar cane lived at the top of the plant. Cane toads can’t climb sugar cane plants.

So after a while the cane toads got hungry. Question: What else besides cane beetles do cane toads eat? Answer: Whatever they can find.

So the cane toads began foraging, eating the native insects and foliage and doing a fairly thorough job destroying whatever they could find. Oh, and one other fact about cane toads: They’re toxic. So not only did they have no natural predators in Australia, they didn’t develop any – all the snakes and lizard who tried to eat them died, throwing the ecological balance further out of whack.

This was now a Very Bad Thing. Australia managed to exchange the fairly serious problem of cane beetles chomping up their sugar cane crop for the even bigger one of cane beetles continuing to merrily eat the sugar cane while cane toads devoured anything they could find – except cane beetles.

So with no access to their usual diet and no predators to keep them down, cane toads have wrecked hundreds of square miles of Australia. And in the latest cheery news, reported yesterday, scientists found they’ve evolved longer legs. Thereby enabling them to cover of Australia to destroy even faster.

Professor Richard Shine, of Sydney University, and colleagues stationed themselves at the invasion front 37 miles east of Darwin, the Daily Telegraph reports, and waited for the toads, which can travel just over a mile a night. The first to arrive had longer legs, showing that evolution is favoring those leading the charge into new territory: “The toads in the vanguard had hind legs about 45 per cent of their body length,’’ Prof .Shine said. “Later arrivals had progressively shorter legs. When we looked at museum specimens gathered over a 60-year period from long-colonized areas, the relative leg length just kept dropping.”

Prof. Shine told The Daily Telegraph “I find it absolutely staggering that a small dumpy creature like a cane toad can travel over a mile a night – night after night.” No doubt soon Aussies will get serious about the problem and import another species to wipe out the cane toad, which will then run wild, causing more damage than the cane toad ever could.

America had a problem with needing to fill in a little ground cover here and there so they imported this vine called kudzu from Japan, and watched helplessly as it took over untold thousands of acres of the South, destroying whatever native flora it touched. Some early New Zealander just over from Britain had a problem with no native mammal species to hunt on weekends, so he brought a shipment of rabbits over and released them, and with no natural predators now they’re a much-detested pest costing the country many hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in destroyed farm land. The entire history of the Soviet Union is the story of solutions becoming even bigger problems.

Man’s solutions = even bigger problems. Sound like anything you’ve been dealing with at your company recently? Okay, sermon over, amen.

If read off-site hit for the fully-linked version. First CoffeeSM accepts no sponsored content.

Featured Events