First Coffee for 22 February, 2006

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

First Coffee for 22 February, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Louis Jordan’s Let The Good Times Roll anthology:

Haven’t heard from the tinfoil hat brigade who think I’m on a personal mission to repossess their houses on the news that Sir Christopher Meyer, GlobeTel’s Non-Executive Chairman, has quit that job to ratchet down to “Independent Director.”

First CoffeeSM’s been interested in GlobeTel since their out-of-nowhere announcement of a $600 million Wi-MAX deal in Russia. Curiously, GlobeTel CEO Tim Huff refuses to talk to the press about it.

Refuses to talk to First CoffeeSM, anyway, or Motley Fool’s Seth Jayson; he hasn’t replied to this column’s request for an interview and told Jayson he’d talk only if Jayson personally visits Huff at GlobeTel’s home offices, a ridiculous stipulation immediately raising the question why.

It’s a shame, because GlobeTel has already missed their January deadline for getting the financing from their Russian partner completed, refuses to identify their Russian partner beyond one individual who has no background whatsoever in telecommunications, and have doubled their bet from getting $150 million of the funding to getting $300 million in place with their Russian partner by the end of February, and we’re sure GlobeTel shareholders would like to get Mr. Huff’s perspective on those developments.

The company itself has a quite, ah, colorful past, a reputation for talking big (Colombian blimps, anyone?), a history of interesting dealings with their stock and subsidiaries, and have one of the most swashbuckling bets in the Wi-MAX world on the table right now, but the tinfoil hatters think that a journalist who covers Wi-MAX anyway has questionable motives for being interested in writing about such a fascinating story.

Anyway, last Friday Sir Christopher Meyer, GlobeTel’s Non-Executive Chairman, requested a change in his status, effective March 19, 2006, to that of an Independent Director.

I can’t tell you how many GlobeTel shareholders, suffering from the usual American credibility insecurity/inferiority complex in the face of any Brit with “Sir” in front of his name, have written to me since I started covering GlobeTel to point out that if such a distinguished soul as SIR Christopher Meyer, a former ambassador (but a man with no track record in successful telecommunications), was in with GlobeTel, why, of course I was all wet to criticize the company.

Never mind that diplomats and politicians rarely make good businessmen (and businessmen rarely make good diplomats or politicians, remember Clark Clifford and BCCI, Alexander Haig’s Sky Station, etc.), how could I, an untitled American, a mere plebe, a colonist, doubt Ye Olde Brit who had actually met the Queen? Would a serf joust with Sir Launcelot?

Wonder what they’re reading in the tea leaves now that Sir Chris has decided he doesn’t want the job after all? I don’t know, I haven’t gotten too many e-mails from those who sent such snide, condescending, sniggering ones when Sir Chris was on board. They’re keeping awfully quiet.

The press release reads “As a result of his current professional obligations and commitments in the U.K.,” which one imagines he was aware of before the took the job, “Sir Christopher has advised the Board that he feels unable to commit the time to the Chairmanship of GlobeTel that the company’s shareholders have the right to expect.”

Indeed. Sir Chris stated, “I have the highest regard for GlobeTel, and its Officers and Directors. But my pre-existing obligations carry a heavy weight of responsibility within my own country. Thus, I believe I would better serve the company by passing the leadership baton to another qualified individual who is equipped to devote the time and attention that this important job requires.”

“Leadership baton?” From a “Non-Executive” Chairman? Folks, the person who holds the real “leadership baton” at GlobeTel is Timothy Huff, never mind the window dressing.

“We have greatly valued Sir Christopher’s tenure as our Chairman. Under his administration and vision, the company has made great strides in all of its businesses and we particularly appreciate the significant enhancements that he has brought to our Board of Directors, exactly in the way that he suggested when he initially joined the Board. We look forward to a continued relationship with him as one of our most distinguished Board colleagues,” Timothy Huff, Chief Executive Officer of GlobeTel Communications said in the press release.

“In the context of this change,” the press release reads, “Sir Christopher will assist the company in identifying and securing an appropriate replacement during the coming weeks.”

First CoffeeSM’s standing request for Tim Huff to answer a few e-mailed questions remains on offer. In fact, I’ve got a couple more.

Internet Initiative Japan Inc., a Japanese Internet-access and products vendor, has announced that in April 2006, Net Care, Inc., IIJ’s 52.5 percent-owned subsidiary, will launch an IP contact center integration service using VoIP technology.

This new service will use Cisco Systems K.K.’s Cisco IP Contact Center Enterprise Edition and the IP contact center construction experience of Hewlett-Packard Japan, Ltd.

“As we approach the peak period for system upgrades among contact centers using a conventional private branch exchange,” company officials say, “there is a growing need for conversion to IP. For customers with existing contact centers, conversion to IP provides many benefits.”

What might those benefits be? IIJ outlines what they think a few of them are:

Reduced equipment costs and maintenance costs. Without the need to install a PBX at every site, initial investment in equipment and operation/maintenance costs drop drastically, they say: “A small- to medium-size contact center can be established at a very low cost.”

Rapid deployment. PBX functions are centrally managed over an IP network via a main server, “which makes contact center establishment, expansion, and relocation both quick and flexible.”

Optimized personnel location. An IP network can be used to merge distributed facilities into one virtual contact center. “Without location (distance) restrictions, call center personnel can be optimally located to achieve high contact center efficiency,” IIJ points out.

HP Japan has already built a lot of IP contact centers, particularly using CTI and other products. Cisco delivers Cisco IPCC, a contact center product that uses IP.

Net Care converted its five-site, 150-seat facilities to IP and was, company officials claim, “the first company in Japan to establish an IP contact center, which helped bolster its capacity as an outsourcing service.”

Net Care is targeting $1.6 million in sales in the first year (FY 2006), and $8.4 million over five years. The IIJ Group will continue to use IIJ’s network building expertise and Net Care’s contact center know-how to help the contact center industry convert to IP.

FreeCRM.com has launched its CRM Synchronization products, announcing a “complete line of synchronization applications that support Microsoft Outlook, Palm Pilots, RIM / BlackBerry pagers, PocketPC and Windows Mobile clients.”

You can even synchronize many mobile phones directly to the CRM using your built-in synchronization functions, company officials claim.

If read off-site hit http://blog.tmcnet.com/telecom-crm/ for the fully-linked version. First CoffeeSM accepts no sponsored content.



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