First Coffee for 27 February, 2006

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

First Coffee for 27 February, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “What’s The Use of Gettin’ Sober (When You’re Gonna Get Drunk Again)?” by Louis Jordan:

Fueled by continued demand for ERP and CRM equipment, small and medium businesses in the United States are on track to spend $2.2 billion on enterprise software this year, up 10 percent from last year, according to a recent report from AMI-Partners.

“More MBs in the U.S. now seek to streamline and automate business processes and thereby maximize the value from their current assets,” says Sau Lam, New York-based research analyst at AMI-Partners.

Lam thinks the healthy growth” for enterprise software spending comes mainly from medium businesses, defined as those with 100-999 employees. He suggests that “many of these MBs also want to ensure they meet new regulatory requirements and see automation as the best way to do that.”

The halcyon days of the huge, multi-million dollar land grabs, installing IBM, Coca-Cola or First CoffeeSM with CRM systems are long gone, the sweet spot for ERP and CRM vendors these days is the SMB market, emphasis on M.

ERP itself is becoming a mainstream application for MBs, AMI’s research finds. Currently, 31 percent of MBs use ERP products, a percentage which will only go up with “close to a quarter of MBs indicating their interest in adopting ERP products in the next 12 months.”

CRM adoption is also higher among MBs than among SBs. Over half of MBs currently use and/or plan to use CRM products in the next 12 months, compared with 23 percent of SBs. Although ACT! and other packaged software offerings are most prevalent, survey data shows salesforce.com gaining traction in both small and medium businesses.

Salesforce.com would do well to speed up that $50 million overhaul of their service to avoid such obnoxious service outages as happened on February 9th, lasting for over an hour. Load balancing’s a great idea, it makes an even better reality.

Adoption of such hosted, software-as-services products is low, but growing, AMI found: “A majority of SMBs have yet to embrace the software as services model, but pervasive high speed Internet access, growing awareness and wider availability of products will fuel future growth across many application areas. Currently, less than a fifth of SBs and 27 percent of MBs use or plan to adopt SaS and hosted applications.”

Those who do adopt on-demand CRM such as that peddled by salesforce.com are generally low-tech types of companies, and not likely to have in-house capabilities to glide past service outages, making such lapses on the part of salesforce.com even more aggravating, according to David Dobrin, an analyst at B2B Analysts Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. Are their service outages “an artifact of their changeover to a more robust, dual data center model?” he asks. “Is it a size problem? Are they having the same problems with their hardware and software vendors that other people frequently have?”

AMI-Partners’ report, “2005-2006 U.S. SMB Applications & Products Market Overview and Assessment,” tracks a broad spectrum of issues pertaining to budgets, purchase behaviors, decision influencers, channel preferences, outsourcing, service and support.

It’s the day to catch up on market studies of CRM, evidently, as according to a recent IDC study, the Western European market for CRM applications reached $2.55 billion in 2004, evidently the proverbial last year for which reliable data can be found.

The five major countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. – made up 72 percent of the total market. Siebel and SAP each led five vertical industries.

IDC’s still flogging the report, itself written at the end of 2005. Seems to me the proper response to such knowledge at this point, however, is “Oh. Hm, gee.” Studies like this are great, but it’s almost March of 2006, one wonders how much business value can be extracted from knowing what things were like at the end of 2004, it’s like knowing what your girlfriend looked like a couple years ago. The point is…

Predictably enough, though, “SAP has sold its CRM product in the industries where it has a strong ERP installed base such as manufacturing, transport, and utilities,” said Bo Lykkegaard, program manager, European Enterprise Applications. Lykkegaard also finds that Siebel defends its turf in industries where it has developed industry-specific offerings, such as finance and communications.

Who’ll win in the future? That, Lykkegaard says, will be determined by factors such as the ability to transition to a service-oriented architecture and increase usability and ease of deployment of their CRM products.”

The largest vertical segment in the Western European CRM applications market is finance, followed by communications and discrete manufacturing. Siebel leads in communications, retail/wholesale, finance, government, and education and healthcare, while SAP leads in discrete and process manufacturing, transport, utilities, and business services, the study finds.

The U.K. is the largest single country market, followed by Germany. Vendor ranking across the five countries shows SAP dominating in Germany, while Siebel leads in France, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. Presumably such trends have held true in the past 14 months, it not being a static world.

There are a few exceptions at the country/industry level, such as Oracle’s lead in government in the U.K. and SAP’s lead in utilities across Western Europe, except the U.K.

Over the weekend First CoffeeSM heard from yet another happy camper who made the mistake of ordering from Caiman.com:

Look, I’ve ordered online extensively for many years. I’ve never filed fraud complaints before. They jerked my refund about for MONTHS after repeatedly lying to me about a product they never had. It took the intervention of the authorities to shake my money loose.

It was too late for me to leave eBay feedback. They’d stalled me out. I’m not angry, I’m aware. I posted here to provide feedback which can be taken into account for those inclined.

First CoffeeSM, himself victimized by Caiman.com’s false “ship-by” dates, is surprised how his account of the bad experience has brought forth so many accounts of similar – and worse – experiences with this one vendor, which is still allowed to sell on Amazon.com, eBay, and other online markets.

It’s gotten to the point where a significant number of burned customers are getting law enforcement’s attention, as another customer tells me, and Amazon.com might finally be waking up:

Well, they never delivered, and it was definitely NOT a hard to find item that I ordered. Again, this was not just myself, but 3 other classmates as well. The REAL problem is that many people don’t bother to give any feedback on the Amazon site...however, when I talked to the customer service people at Amazon I was told they have received numerous complaints and “A-Z Guarantee” claims lately, and are researching if they should stop Caiman.com from being able to do business through them.

And not being angry Kelly, but if you want to talk about the “truth”, don’t go by what a few people may or may not have said on Amazon’s site, contact the Florida state Attorney General’s office- I did...there have been a LARGE number of complaints filed, and Caiman is being looked at for possible fraud charges.

Oh one more thing...by the way, the comment that “there is always the option to cancel...” well no, with Caiman there is not. They supposedly ship within 2 days (which has also been shown not to be the case) and once they have “shipped” they can/will no longer cancel an order. Tried that one when they failed to deliver.

The bottom line for such companies, who damage the credibility of online commerce itself, should be obvious. Here’s hoping Amazon.com and other online commerce sites do the right thing by their customers.

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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