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March 2006

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First Coffee for 31 March 2006

March 31, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Tim Hardin’s “If I Were A Carpenter:”

Eye-opening stuff here in the news this morning:

PHILADELPHIA - The Justice Department is demanding internal files from dozens of Internet service providers and other technology firms as it seeks to defend a controversial Internet child protection law.

The subpoenas are similar to one given to Google Inc., which waged a partially successful battle over the government’s request for millions of pieces of information about search engine requests and Web site domains.

InformationWeek magazine unearthed subpoenas that show the government also demanded information from at least 34 other companies, including Internet service providers such as Comcast Corp. and EarthLink Inc., security software firms and other technology companies.

The subpoenas, which the magazine obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, show the Justice Department preparing for an October trial in Philadelphia over the 1996 Child Online Protection Act. It is not clear which companies are complying, and to what extent.

“That money could be spent so much more wisely on giving software away to parents that are having these problems,” Dan Jude, president of Security Software Systems, said of the litigation costs.

The 12-person firm, which makes filtering software, spent more than 40 hours trying to comply with the subpoena, he said. The company refused to provide some information on proprietary grounds, fearing it could make its way into the court file.

“If that information gets out in the public, we’ve just lost our competitive edge,” Jude said Thursday. The subpoena also sought information the company does not keep, such as customer satisfaction, he said.

Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller did not immediately return a message Thursday afternoon.

The subpoenas also went to companies including AT&T Inc., Cox Communications Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Symantec Corp…

Can you believe that? I mean, what are they thinking?

First Coffee for 30 March 2006

March 30, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Short, Sharp, Shocked by Michelle Shocked:

The last total eclipse of the sun as spectacular as the one yesterday was in November 2003. That one was best viewed from Antarctica, said Alex Young, a NASA scientist involved in solar research, according to the Associated Press.

God was a little kinder to the scientific set this time around, though, as the eclipse was best viewed in Antalya, a comfortable resort on Turkey’s beautiful Mediterranean coast.

Talk about timing: First Coffee lives in Istanbul, but until this past December lived in Antalya. I kid you not when I say that two years ago – two – we were getting e-mails from our friends in America to come and, well, gee, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you guys, so why don’t we come to visit, oh, let’s say end of March 2006, how does that work for you?

You think I’m exaggerating. Last summer, as soon as we told our friends we were moving to Istanbul – not on the eclipse path – they suddenly had all kinds of unforeseen scheduling problems, maybe next year?

But here in Turkey, the eclipse was not looked forward to by certain members of the population.

First Coffee for 29 March 2006

March 29, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Best of MFO, the band MFO being not only the best Turkish rock band ever, but for my money the best non-Anglophone rock band I’ve ever heard. Think The Kinks with stronger vocals for an approximate comparison, a good pop/rock sound with a few elements of traditional Turkish music used as part of the overall sound, not tossed in gratuitously to say “ethnic.” Their haunting ballad “Bodrum” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard anywhere.

Trillium Software, a division of Harte-Hanks and a vendor of Total Data Quality products, has announced that it is to provide its TS Quality enterprise data quality software to global telecommunications provider BT on an enterprise-wide license basis.

The software is support for BT’s customer relationship management installation by Siebel, one of the most sizeable CRM implementations anywhere in the world.

The agreement extends an existing license based on user numbers, to permit BT unlimited, worldwide use of TS Quality as part of its Total Data Quality drive for continuous improvement in customer service and business performance.

“Customer name and address information is an extremely valuable BT asset,” said James Gault, program director, product and customer data platforms. “We must manage the quality of that data with strategic intent in all corners of the organization.”

According to Gault, TS Quality enables BT to standardize source data formats, to recognize and handle duplicates, and to mold fragmented records into linked information.

First Coffee for 28 March 2006

March 28, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Arlo Guthrie’s “Last To Leave:”

Cognos, a business intelligence and corporate performance management (CPM) vendor, has announced the latest version of Cognos 8 Business Intelligence.

This new version of Cognos 8 BI includes new search and reporting capabilities to extend the reach of BI to more users, and expanded enterprise-application and data support.

Leah MacMillan, vice president of product marketing said the additional support for enterprise applications in Cognos 8 BI is engineered to help companies get more out of their ERP investments “by providing ways to measure, monitor, and analyze business information.”

Cognos 8 BI delivers a simplified, zero-footprint interface for all users, authors and administrators. New capabilities announced include:

BI search. Cognos Go! Search Service, a new BI search capability, lets users find enterprise information available through Cognos 8 Business Intelligence.

First Coffee for 27 March 2006

March 27, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Gustav Holst's The Planets:

Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. has announced the delivery of its IP contact center system based on Oki's computer telephony integration server, CTstage 4i for .NET, to Suruga Bank Ltd., a Japanese bank proud of its retail banking division.

Oki's contact center system" improves Suruga Bank's business efficiency and productivity by flexibility responding to changes and expansions, and connecting to the bank's CRM," according to Oki officials.

Operation for the 150 seats, out of 250 seats at Suruga's Direct Banking, starts from April 2006.

"We believe our contact center system can help improve business efficiency and simplify the business flow at Suruga Bank, who is known for their innovative approach towards retail banking," said Katsuyoshi Koide, President of Multimedia Messaging Company at Oki Electric.

Koide said Oki plans offer the system to customers "in the financial institutions in Japan" in need of strengthening their contact centers.

First Coffee for 25 March 2006

March 25, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Eric Clapton’s Timepieces:

Headscratching news item of the day, courtesy of Yahoo!: “Believe it or not, people who get only 6 to 7 hours a night have a lower death rate than those who get 8 hours of sleep.”

I had always kind of thought the death rate was pretty close to 100 percent no matter how much sleep you get, but hey, I’ve been wrong before.

Xactly Corporation, an on-demand sales compensation management company, wants to take a page from salesforce.com’s playbook in succeeding with online CRM.

New board member Cindy Padnos, director, Outlook Ventures, said she’s excited to join the board of Xactly, since in her view “Xactly will be mainstreaming on-demand sales compensation management similar to how salesforce.com popularized on-demand CRM.”

Using spreadsheets to manage sales compensation is a legacy approach that predates the Internet, Padnos says, adding “why would companies want to be held back when there’s an affordable, proven alternative product in Xactly Incent? It’s going to be the ‘next big thing’ in CRM.”

Xactly has announced that it has secured $8 million in Series B funding led by Outlook Ventures and Spinner Asset Management, LLC. In related news, the company also announced the appointment of Padnos to the Xactly board of directors.

Bay Partners and Rembrandt Ventures, the lead investors in Xactly’s Series A round, along with other Series A investors, also participated in the Series B financing.

The new financing will be used to increase Xactly’s sales and marketing initiatives, expand the service organization and accelerate market adoption of the company’s leading on-demand sales compensation management product.

Christopher W. Cabrera, Xactly founder, president and CEO, said he believes “savvy mid-size businesses are rapidly moving to our on-demand approach to automate sales compensation.

First Coffee for 24 March 2006

March 24, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Pogues’ If I Should Fall From Grace With God:

Esmertec, a vendor of software and services for the telecommunication, interactive multimedia, and consumer electronics markets, will announce its client-server M2M product, OSVM Universe.

OSVM Universe contains features for the M2M market and is “suited for use in automation, fleet management, and vending machines,” company officials say, adding that it “can also be integrated to existing enterprise products such as ERP or a CRM system with a server-side plug-in.”

Using two-way wireless communication, OSVM Universe provides companies with a means to service and update devices deployed in the field. It also offers developers a tool for creating M2M applications, which can exchange application data between the device and the server.

OSVM Universe features a user-friendly integrated development environment, as well as what company officials describe as a “virtual machine-based embedded platform and a secure remote device administrator,” which enables remote, scalable and automated on-the-fly software upgrade for large numbers of M2M devices.

Lars Bak, Chief Architect of Esmertec describes OSVM Universe as “an M2M software product for devices with limited resources,” since it can be deployed on existing platforms and “enables cost savings in device management.”

Evidently NetSuite wants to follow in the footsteps of Salesforce.com, as the hosted CRM vendor plans to go public and establish operations in China before the end of this year, according to the company’s President and CEO Zach Nelson.

Industry observer China Martens is reporting that Nelson says he thinks he can match the “ten times revenue valuation” rival Salesforce.com got when it filed for an initial public offering in June 2004, Nelson said in an interview Wednesday. “Going IPO is more of a marketing event for us to increase our visibility and credibility,” he told Martens.

Martens says that while NetSuite had considered going public towards the end of 2005, they “decided waiting until later this year would give the company more of a chance of matching Salesforce.com’s IPO performance which valued Salesforce.com at over $1 billion,” citing comments from Nelson.

NetSuite racked up $70 million in revenue in 2005, and expects to do at least $100 million this year.

First Coffee for 23 March 2006

March 23, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Swing Brother, Swing, a great three-CD collection of classic Big Band, current selection Benny Goodman’s “Don’t Be That Way:”

If at first you don’t succeed, keep it simple the second time around: The Chinese company CDC Corporation has announced that CDC Software, a wholly owned subsidiary of CDC Corporation, has presented a new proposal to the board of directors of Onyx Software for a strategic transaction that would combine Onyx Software with CDC Software.

CDC Software management is now awaiting a response of Onyx’s board of directors. Onyx said it would review the proposal.

Under the terms of CDC Software’s new proposal to Onyx, each Onyx shareholder would have a choice to receive, for each Onyx share, consideration consisting of either all-cash, or cash-and-shares in CDC Corporation.

In the event an Onyx shareholder elects to receive all-cash consideration, such shareholder would receive, for each Onyx share, $4.57 per share in cash. Such a price per share, CDC officials claim,” would represent a premium of approximately 20 percent from a recent five-day trading average for Onyx shares.”

In the event an Onyx shareholder elects to receive cash-and-shares, such shareholder would receive, for each Onyx share, $4.78 per share comprised of 50 percent (or $2.39) in cash and 50 percent (or $2.39) in registered Class A Common Shares of CDC Corporation.

First Coffee for 22 March 2006

March 22, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” proudly downloaded from iTunes just this morning:

The only really truly important fact you need to know in this whole iPod-iTunes flap in France is the following, from Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster:

“We estimate that approximately 20 percent of iPod and iTunes sales occur outside of the U.S. The French market alone is likely less than 2 percent of iPod and iTunes business.”

France’s lower house of parliament has passed a law requiring not only Apple, but all those who sell downloadable music in the country, to provide compatibility – all downloadable music must be playable on all devices, be they Apple, Sony, whatever.

On the one hand this looks fair, but seeing as how Apple has over 80 percent of the market it’s obviously targeted to knock down Apple’s market share. It’s an extraordinarily badly-written law, as almost all laws trying to impose wishful thinking on market forces are, so much so that even Apple’s competitors in the market are wary of it.

So is Apple going to trash their exclusivity for the sake of two percent of their market? First CoffeeSM doesn’t think so, friends.

First Coffee for 21 March 2006

March 21, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me album:

SAP AG has announced that Swiss Army Brands, Inc., distributor of Swiss Army timepieces and Victorinox multi-tools, cutlery, travel gear and apparel, has selected SAP products to optimize business processes and drive the expansion of its business lines.

The distributor decided to retire its Oracle/JD Edwards legacy system and turned to SAP, specifically, the integrated SAP Apparel and Footwear application.

In the apparel industry, company officials say, businesses need to react within days or even hours to changes in consumer behavior and customer demand. Swiss Army Brands (leave it to the Swiss, even their military is a profitable enterprise) say they chose SAP AFS as it “features a flexible master-data structure that represents sizes, colors and styles at the stock keeping unit level and gives planners up-to-the minute visibility into daily activities,” to improve on-shelf availability.

Tom Hennigan, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Swiss Army Brands, Inc. said his company views the implementation of SAP as “essential for us to provide our customers with the same service levels that much larger brands provide.”

Swiss Army Brands will use SAP CRM, ERP and supply chain management products to integrate its global distribution operations and standardize information on an enterprise level.

First Coffee for 20 March 2006

March 20, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark… nah, save that for the white wine with the wife after the kids are in bed tonight, the working music is Ike and Tina Turner’s 18 Classic Tracks:

Clearing off the news from last week, First CoffeeSM would like to note the release of Bridgedexchange Version 3.6, web-based CRM.

There’s a pretty good, detailed description the company sent along of what the product does, and as it sounds like it serves as a good primer for how these kinds of products tend to work, there are differences, but basically it’s a good example of how on-demand CRM works, so we’ll go over it in a bit more detail in case you’ve never seen one explained and frankly wonder what it’s like, and don’t want to appear more ignorant than you have to at cocktail parties and in front of consultants who might then get dollar signs in their eyes when they realize you don’t know stuff like this:

Users of the system can manage the layout, customize web based forms, search for contacts in the system, manage documents, and tracking e-mails with a customized template. The information’s stored on another server not in your building, you simply access it via browser the way you hit Google and the Victoria’s Secret site.

The system lets users track their own sales progress, and lets managers track it as well. The sale cycle can be customized in the MYpreferences area. The CRM administrators can add or remove sales steps to help manage the sales cycle.

First Coffee for 18 March 2006

March 18, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “Delta Dawn” by Tanya Tucker, whose career was one of the most stupendous voices pressed into service of some of the most underwhelming material in history. But not here, baby, not here:

According to a new study by analyst firm Dittberner, three categories of Fixed Mobile Convergence services will be the most popular in the near future, potentially competing with “all mobile” solutions (Fixed mobile substitution).

Specifically, Dittberner likes:

Services based on dual-mode terminals (3G and WLAN),

Set or programmable automatic call forwarding (“Follow-me”), and

Home-zone pricing schemes.

Dittberner addresses the various business and marketing issues pertaining to fixed-mobile convergence in this comprehensive study, which concludes that “FMC services are unlikely to generate any sizable incremental revenue particularly for full service carriers.”

For example, carriers advertise services based on dual-mode handsets as providing convenience to users (i.e. one phone, one number, one address book, one voice mail box, one bill, one point contact), but “remarkably also emphasize the cost benefits to clients because calls made and received via the home, or office WLAN will be billed at the fixed wireline tariff, which is usually lower than the mobile tariff.”

Dr. Alain Thiney, vice president at Dittberner says that in his estimation, “revenues to be derived by full service carriers from converged fixed-mobile services will probably pale in comparison to fixed and mobile video services revenues for example.”

He added that the development of IP-based high value-added services delivered via fixed and mobile broadband access networks “will be the real revenue generators, as FMC provides added convenience for which users will not be willing to pay a premium.”

However, the study concludes, FMC could provide integrated fixed-mobile carriers a significant competitive tool to maintain or increase their market share, helping customer retention, and even helping capture new mobile customers.

The report includes a comprehensive FMC revenue simulation model and several business cases illustrating the positive impact of FMC on revenues.

Yes!

St. Patrick's Day 2006

March 17, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is.. oh, let’s dig out something Oirish in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is virtually ignored in Ireland as it’s always been much more about the American Irish experience (the name “Erin” originated outside of Ireland, among expats), bunch of Irish getting together in the pub in Boston, New York and Chicago to drink Guinness, sing and reminisce about the stories Gran’ma told about the Auld Sod… what’ve we got here… okay, The Dust Rhinos’ “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Yeah it’s Scottish, but close enough, the Rhinos – great band – are certainly mick through and through, and it’s still the best song ever written about trotting off into the hills for a little afternoon delight. Yee-ha, Erin Go Bragh:

This summary is as good as any:

“St. Patrick was born around the year 385 in a village in Wales. When he was sixteen, a group of Irish pirates raided his village and took many of the young men back to Ireland to work as slaves. Patrick worked for six years as a herdsman in the Irish countryside.

First Coffee for 16 March 2006

March 16, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is something you’ve never heard, Gil Scott-Heron’s “Johannesburg:”

The privately-held business intelligence vendor from Cary, North Carolina, SAS has entered into an agreement to acquire Veridiem, a privately held software company based in Maynard, Massachusetts.

It’s the seventh acquisition by SAS since 2000. Veridiem’s flagship software, Veridiem 2, is designed to link sales results to the marketing investments that drove them to identify what’s working, what’s not, and what will work better.

The company’s products help clients analyze and optimize their return from marketing investments such as advertising, promotions, incentives, direct mail, events and the Web. Veridiem works in a field known as Marketing Resource Management.

SAS officials say the acquisition will bolster SAS’ Customer Intelligence product line, which includes marketing automation, event-based marketing, campaign optimization, Web analytics, e-marketing and customer analytics.

The acquisition also brings SAS’ Boston-area presence to about 160 employees, as Veridiem’s dozen employees join existing employees at SAS’ office in Middleton, Massachusetts.

In 2003, SAS acquired Marketmax, a vendor of retail planning and merchandise intelligence software.

Veridiem is privately held and backed by leading investors such as North Bridge Venture Partners, Venrock Associates, Infinity Capital and North Hill Ventures. The acquisition agreement is subject to certain conditions, including the approval of Veridiem’s stockholders. Financial details were not disclosed.

Using the Veridiem software, companies can simulate the expected outcome of various marketing strategies, measure the effectiveness of those already underway, and identify mid-course changes that can maximize results.

Veridiem’s software is also designed to promote accountability in marketing organizations, deliver continuous intelligence about the impact of marketing activities across various channels, and generate strong return on investment.

Gartner Research Vice President Kimberly Collins wrote last April that “marketing organizations are under increased pressure to become more accountable and to increase visibility of marketing programs and their impact.”

SAS President and CEO Jim Goodnight said the Veridiem purchase would improve SAS products’ marketing activities.

First Coffee for the Ides of March 2006

March 15, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first (iced) coffee this morning, and the music is Elvis’s “Kentucky Rain,” just everything a great song should be:

We’ll start off with one for the pocket protector set:

Japan’s Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. is announcing that it has succeeded in transmitting 160Gb/s data, which is equivalent to transmitting four movies of two hours each, in a single second over 396 miles.

This experiment was conducted as part of the “Research and Development on Ultrahigh-speed Backbone Photonic Network Technologies” project, consigned by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. Oki used an optical testbed provided by Japan Gigabit Network II, and succeeded in transmitting world’s first 160Gb/s data, that included high-vision video.

The optical testbed offered by JGN II is an optical fiber, single mode optical fiber 63.5km x 10 fiber cables, installed between Open Laboratory in Kyoto and Dojima Relay Station in Osaka. At each connection point an optical amplifier similar to a relay station for commercial-use 10Gb/s data transmissions, and a dispersion compensation fiber were installed.

Oki’s saying this is the world’s first transmission of signal evaluation data simultaneous with high-vision video.

First Coffee for 14 March 2006

March 14, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Manassas, the reason why Stephen Stills’ parents were predestined to meet each other:

NetSuite, Inc., with salesforce.com and RightNow Technologies one of the Big Three in on-demand CRM, has launched its NetSuite-Software Company Edition.

NetSuite-Software Company Edition, described by company officials as “designed to manage a software business and the software customer life cycle,” has added financial management functionality including revenue recognition and usage-based billing that can cost a lot when purchased from niche providers.

This edition of NetSuite includes new versions of NetSuite’s AJAX Dashboards, designed to give software company executives and frontline users real-time visibility into performance indicators.

Company officials say many of the improvements in the NetSuite-Software Company Edition “result from NetSuite’s own use of the product, as well as feedback.” The result, they claim, “enables a software company of any size to manage its entire business in a single business application suite.”

Most software companies, in fact, buy multiple generic applications to run their business – one to manage the sales team, one to manage marketing, one to manage support, and several more to deal with the financial aspects of running a business etc. While you can cobble together a pretty cost-effective system this way that works fine for your business, there’s also a greater chance that the programs aren’t talking to each other and information’s falling between cracks.

One thing NetSuite’s emphasizing in the new suite is its ERP capabilities.

First Coffee for 13 March 2006

March 13, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Coltrane’s Love Supreme:

That’s one of the advantages of being self-employed, you do really well in the office March Madness bracket pool every year. This year at First CoffeeSM I have Duke, Connecticut, Villanova, Memphis, Texas, UCLA, Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa and Gonzaga, LSU, Kansas, Illinois and Boston College.

Cleaning up the leftover news from last week, China looks like they’re betting big on RFID. According to tech research firm In-Stat, the government has bought over 100 million tags, shipped in 2005, and has arranged for more than 2.9 billion tags to be shipped by 2009.

First CoffeeSM imagines there will not be the lively airing of privacy concerns in China that there is in the United States.

From 2005 through 2009, a major RFID application will be for human ID through China’s second-generation Resident ID Card program, the high-tech market research firm says.

Tag prices are still relatively expensive, ranging from a low of around 15 cents to a high of over $200.

First Coffee for 11 March 2006

March 11, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning (in my cool new “Istanbul” mug from Starbucks; every mug in my cupboard has some story behind it, there’s the one I got in Zurich for my wife when we were engaged, the one we got in New Zealand last Christmas, the one I got for her in Verona, the one I saw for a buck in a grocery store which just looked too cool, the Moose Drool ones the brewer sent to thank me for an article I did which used the company as an example of good CRM, the one with the Maori design she keeps saying would make a great pencil holder, the one her brother sent from Canada, etc.) and the music is Tom Waits’s Alice, whose last song, “Fawn,” is one of the most beautiful pieces of recorded music I’ve heard recently:

Business & Decision, the consulting and data engineering company specializing in Business Intelligence, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning and E- Business products, today announced the acquisition of Mi Services Ltd., the international IT and Management Consultancy company with offices in the USA and the UK.

Founded in 1984, Mi Service earned its money working with organizations to improve their communications, interactions and transactions in their stakeholder relationships. The company has provided ERP products for clients from the life sciences, public sector and financial services industry sectors and has sold validation and compliance products to life sciences companies.

Clients include American Pacific, BP, Johnson & Johnson, Keystone Foods, Novartis, Philadelphia Youth Network, Smith & Nephew, St. Jude Medical, SunGard Availability Services, Teva Pharmaceuticals, United Utilities, the Universities of Manchester, Oxford Brookes and Southampton, VaxGen, WageWorks and Wyeth.

Sylvain Thauvette, President & CEO, Business & Decision North America, said the acquisition was driven by “three strategic objectives: an expansion in our critical mass both in the USA and UK, the acquisition of a strong ERP practice with specific strengths and competencies in the pharmaceutical industry and an increase of our customer base in the USA and UK to which we can extend our other areas of expertise.”

Mi Services is a privately held company with staff in the USA and UK. For the fiscal year ending December 31, 2005 Mi Services reported revenues of around $25 million.

First Coffee for 10 March 2006

March 10, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Sometimes straight coffee just doesn’t do it in the morning, folks:

All the legal wrangling over and done, Research In Motion is jumping right back in it, announcing the immediate availability of BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1 and BlackBerry Enterprise Server - Small Business Edition v4.1 for Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino.

“Incorporating feedback from thousands of enterprise customers across the globe,” RIM officials say, BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1 includes new functionality that makes it “easier than ever to expand populations of BlackBerry users and manage larger scale deployments.”

The new release provides tighter integration with leading platforms for enterprise instant messaging, including Microsoft Windows Messenger, Live Communications Server 2005 and IBM Lotus Sametime. BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.1 also incorporates support for the new BlackBerry Mobile Data System v4.1 application development and deployment environment, which includes BlackBerry MDS Studio, a new visual development tool for creating BlackBerry wireless applications from Web Services.

RIM is also announcing acquisition of Ascendent Systems, a vendor of products that simplify voice mobility implementations in the enterprise.

Ascendent, a member of the BlackBerry ISV Alliance Program, makes the Ascendent Voice Mobility Suite, a standards-based software product that augments existing PBX and IP-PBX systems and supports heterogeneous telephony environments to “push” voice calls and extend corporate desk phone functionality to mobile users on their wireless handset or any wireline phone.

Ascendent will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIM. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Salesboom.com, a vendor of on demand CRM and ERP, has released parts of legal documents exchanged between it and Salesforce.com, according to Salesboom officials.

In the documents – this is all according to Salesboom, mind you – Salesforce.com senior Vice President and former General Counsel David Schellhase “openly accuses Salesboom, on more than one occasion, of attempting to ‘trade off the goodwill created by salesforce.com,’ citing the similarities of the two companies’ names.”

That, and the similarity of Salesboom’s terminology to Salesforce.com’s – “Zero Software Promise,” e.g. Frankly the thought that the smaller Salesboom.com is trying to bask in a little reflected glory has crossed more than one CRM mind.

First Coffee for 9 March, 2006

March 9, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Billie Holiday’s Lady In Autumn, a collection of her later Verve recordings:

Let’s start far afield: PT. Bank Lippo, Tbk, Indonesia’s first private bank, in an attempt to strengthen its business-continuance process, has bought a storage area network product from Cisco Systems.

The product comprises a Fibre Channel-based SAN with Internet Protocol integration, enabling stored data to connect with the network infrastructure. With the new system, LippoBank hopes to be better able to manage its databases and to recover from a disaster, as well as lower costs and improving staff efficiency in the bargain.

The product replaced a mixture of storage systems and servers for customer account information and internal records such as management information system, decision support system and human resource data. Apart from the technical problems of keeping track of a growing number of heterogeneous storage devices, the bank was also beginning to run into significant problems in attempting to manage disparate data pools that contained a mix of critical and noncritical information.

Furthermore, with network security as a growing concern, disaster recovery was always at the forefront in any IT consideration. As well it should have been.

The new integrated SAN product features Cisco MDS 9506 Multilayer directors connected via IP links to enable synchronous and asynchronous backups between the production sites and the disaster-recovery sites.

First Coffee for 8 March, 2006

March 8, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “The Woman Downstairs” by The Handsome Family, which someone recommended I listen to but which I’m not sure is a keeper. I mean, I’ve already got Tom Waits and Jim White:

The PSI Call Center has changed its name to PSI Contact Center to reflect “the expansion of new technologies for customer relationships and contacts,” according to company officials.

The new name, PSI Contact Center, “better reflects that more and more of the programs PSI has been doing are based upon managing the total customer contact process in a ‘multi-level access’ communication environment,” company officials said.

In addition to managing inbound/outbound call programs, like a good, self-respecting call center, the “contact center” manages e-mail communications from customers and prospects. PSI is also working on integrating the web and the call center to provide 2-way video interaction with customers and prospects, instant expert assistance, concierge services, and chats.

Larry Evans, President, says that as of March 1, the company had 130 call stations in service: “This expansion reflects the growing need of our clients to track all aspects of the customer relationships. Also, our expansion into help/desk and technical support services in all communication/contact modes warranted creating a new identity.”

PSI offers immediate responses to customers as they browse a website.

First Coffee for 7 March, 2006

March 7, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, which in my case this morning is iced coffee, simply a more efficient caffeine delivery system, heck you can ingest three times the amount of liquid in iced form than you can hot in half an hour, and the music is Neil Young’s Ragged Glory, one of the more appropriately-named albums ever released:

Cingular Wireless is announcing today the immediate availability of Cingular Video on-demand streaming video service with a large selection of popular mobile content.

You can now watch video clips of TV shows, sports, news and weather, entertainment and “premium content” if you’ve got a high-speed 3G capable Cingular phone.

Demand for wireless video and other data services continues to grow with the proliferation of wireless broadband networks, so to make the most of that, Cingular Wireless has partnered with media and entertainment vendors for a wider variety of mobile content than might be available elsewhere.

In fact, Sam Hall, vice president, Mobile Browse and Developer Program, Cingular Wireless goes so far as to say that “Cingular Video offers the highest degree of personalization and the widest selection of desirable content in the U.S. market.”

Cingular Video does offer exclusive content, such as Fox News clips, and a comprehensive sports coverage package including ESPN, Fox Sports, FUEL and SPEED. It also has local weather forecasts in 100 cities across the country, “three times more cities than any other service provider,” Cingular officials point out.

For families, basic Cingular Video service includes more options and, later this month, NCAA basketball fans can watch NCAA men’s basketball video highlights.

Other highlights:

From the Cartoon Network there’s “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,” “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Dexter’s Laboratory.” From something called Adult Swim there’s “The Brak Show,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.”

CNN offers content from “Now in the News,” updated hourly, and programming offered from categories, including Top Stories, Business News, Sports, Politics and Entertainment. There’s a lot from the Disney Channel, including “Playhouse Disney,” Disney Channel’s curriculum-based programming for preschool-age kids. One wonders what they’re doing playing with Mommy and Daddy’s high-speed 3G capable Cingular phone, of course.

First Coffee for 6 March, 2006

March 6, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Everybody’s Bach, a decent, backgroundy snippet collection:

Business Objects, a vendor of business intelligence products, is announcing the availability of new Integration Kits for connecting the Oracle family of applications with BusinessObjects XI Release 2.

Business Objects provides customers with access to Oracle’s products and applications, including Oracle databases, Oracle OLAP multidimensional cubes, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, Siebel, and Oracle’s e-Business Suite applications.

BusinessObjects XI Release 2 is described by company officials as providing Oracle customers with “an insulation layer that protects end-users from any changes going on behind the scenes with their IT infrastructure.”

By offering a BI product that is separated from the transactional systems, Business Objects contends, it helps companies avoid disruptions and “will allow Oracle customers to migrate to Fusion without impacting reporting and business intelligence access.”

“With the rapid pace of consolidation happening in the market today, a company’s information infrastructure seems to be in a constant state of flux,” said Rene Bonvanie, chief marketing officer at Business Objects.

The BusinessObjects XI Release 2 integration kits offer pre-built integration for faster time to benefit and feature native drivers and security plug-ins that use the existing security infrastructure. The integration kits employ secured reporting, interactive dashboards and scorecards.

Business Objects officials say the BI platform is embedded across all of Oracle’s PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications.

First Coffee for 4 March, 2006

March 4, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Rolling Stones’ “Stray Cat Blues:”

Technology Evaluation Centers, a global company specializing in on-line services for software evaluation, has launched a Spanish-language Customer Relationship Management Evaluation Center as part of what company officials describe as a strategy to “provide comprehensive software selection services to the Latin-American market.”

TEC added CRM to its Spanish offerings because of the notable growth in this area. According to IDC, the Latin-American market is valued at an estimated $166 million, with an expected growth rate of 13 percent in the next two years. Overall, TEC says, it has seen continuous demand for CRM evaluations during 2005, experiencing over 200 requests a month.

TEC has made information on approximately thirty CRM products and its decision-making tool, eBestMatchTM, available in Spanish. More products will be available in the future.

Latin-American companies can evaluate and compare CRM applications for different industries and company sizes to determine which products fit their particular business requirements. TEC says users of its CRM Evaluation Center can reduce the risk and resources associated with the application selection process, perform a more objective and impartial selection and use detailed information to lead negotiations with vendors.

All vendors have completed TEC’s detailed request for information, containing over 1,100 criteria on features and functions. With eBestMatch, a product’s capabilities are weighed against the company’s needs enabling decision makers to make informed choices.

The CRM evaluation tool is available for a two hour free trial, and can be licensed and customized for enterprise software selection projects.

First Coffee for 3 March, 2006

March 3, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Louis Jordan’s “Doug the Jitterbug:”

Green Beacon Solutions, a provider of strategy, consulting and implementation services for Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Marketing Automation technologies, has announced that it has developed a streamlined approach for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 upgrade projects that includes new and updated enhancements to help customers achieve more business value from their investments.

An inaugural Dynamics CRM partner, Green Beacon has already developed a set of targeted enhancements for prior releases that company officials describe as streamlining the user experience and enabling customers to maximize the return on their CRM investment.

The new Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 platform provides a more customizable framework for tailoring the user interface, business logic, and reporting to each client’s business needs. This architecture also lets Green Beacon’s consulting organization build targeted, vertical products that integrate with clients’ business processes.

“Unlike most network applications which can be installed and configured once, CRM applications must be customized and modified regularly to ensure that they address current business demands,” said Benjamin Holtz, CEO of Green Beacon Solutions.

Highlights of the Green Beacon’s customizations include:

Website Lead Capture. Green Beacon’s Lead Capture integration allows companies to convert website visitors into Microsoft Dynamics CRM leads. Prospects may enter contact information, request sales literature or complete surveys while online as Microsoft Dynamics CRM captures the prospect as a lead and triggers the beginning of the sales process, notifying the appropriate sales representative of the new lead to be qualified.

Customer Affinities. Green Beacon’s Customer Affinities Module allows an unlimited set of interests, preferences, and demographics to be stored on contact and account records. The affinities are searchable using Microsoft’s new Advanced Searching and List Building functionality in Dynamics CRM 3.0.

Org Chart.

First Coffee for 2 March, 2006

March 2, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Best of the Byrds:

Yesterday we looked at the new Forrester report, “Trends 2006: Customer Relationship Management” authored by William Band, specifically the three drivers Band found for CRM in 2006.

The report also predicts that CRM license revenue will stay fairly static at $3 billion for the next three years, whereas will increase from the $8 billion at the end of 2005 to just under $10 billion by 2008.

Today we’ll look at what Forrester finds are the ten CRM trends to watch in 2006, but first, the welcome news that Akimbo has announced that Fawlty Towers, the vintage BBC comedy series whose appeal remains undiminished to audiences worldwide, will be added to the Akimbo Service through a deal brokered by Beth Clearfield, vice president of programming at BBC Worldwide Americas.

Besides being a textbook example of CRM negative practice, Fawlty Towers joins other popular BBC comedies available on Akimbo such as 2 Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Porridge, neither of which this reviewer knows anything about, sorry.

Akimbo’s Internet-to-TV video-on-demand is a service giving subscribers access to more than 8,000 titles, including full-length movies, TV shows, foreign language content, children’s videos, travelogues, how-to programs, experimental and short films, video blogs and more. Now you can get Fawlty Towers on-demand, at the click of a button, and this, friends, is why we fought World War II. Ssshhh, don’t mention the war...

One reason for the show’s popularity is that they only did twelve episodes, six in 1975 and six in 1979, star John Cleese explaining that he didn’t want it to get stale. This is a horror of his, he broke up Monty Python when he felt they were starting to repeat themselves in sketches.

The series won three BAFTAs and, perhaps uniquely in the history of television, has never received a bad press review.

First Coffee for 1 March, 2006

March 1, 2006

By David Sims

david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the Alan Parsons Project’s Tales Of Mystery And Imagination, a great old album I discovered in high school, it was probably the second or third rock album I ever bought, behind The Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle or Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.

But such a good album – an entire song cycle based on Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Nothing the Project ever did after that came close to Tales, obviously – Parsons himself said later that he never intended to form an ongoing band, it was just a bunch of friends on a one-off deal, but the success of the Tales simply created a demand for more work from them – and few other rock albums “based on” great literature ever have either.

Must have been that work Parsons did producing Al Stewart’s Year Of the Cat album that got the literary juices flowing, unless I’ve gotten my chronology off by a year:

Got a copy of “Trends 2006: Customer Relationship Management,” the most recent CRM report from the good folks at Forrester. It’s authored by William Band, no doubt still off celebrating Canada’s Olympic gold medal in curling.

CRM is growing up, Band says. Although he finds growth in CRM spending on applications and related services and technologies “modest” in 2005, “customer-facing initiatives remain important.” We’ll point out a few of the findings, but there’s lots of actionable intelligence you need in the report itself. No Cliff’s Notes here, folks, sorry:

CRM has, Band believes, “moved from an era of overhyped expectations through a period of exaggerated pessimism to become a pillar of enterprise competitive strategy for many industries.

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