First Coffee for 1 March, 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 1 March, 2006

By David Sims

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. Organizations are striving to wring more value from existing investments in CRM, vendors are re-architecting their solutions, and professional services players are retooling their service delivery models.”

So CRM’s out of Buzzword Limbo, folks, it’s survived childhood and is here to stay. It’s grown out of the downturn, people aren’t ripping out installations but are looking for ways to get business value out of the stuff. And, mirabile dictu, vendors are retooling their offerings based on a generation or two of feedback now.

There are basically three drivers the report sees for CRM growth down the pike. One is persistent investment in CRM to drive revenue growth. Forrester anticipates spending on CRM application licenses will generally increase about 2 percent to 3 percent a year through 2008. Going along with that, total spending on vendor offerings, including maintenance and services, will increase about 5 percent to 6 percent a year for the period, Band writes: “The total amount of money to be invested on CRM remains large.”

Another is the shifting of CRM innovation to process management. Customer demand, market dynamics and technology, Band writes, “are driving the convergence of CRM functionalities to be more easily integrated with the capabilities associated with enterprise resource management and supply chain management.” CRM, Band finds, “is evolving to customer process management.”

Finally, there’s good news for all you consultants out there, as Forrester’s research finds continued reliance on consultants and systems integrators. Firms “definitely want their product vendors to be committed to making sure that their products work,” of course, but as Band finds, “clients still prefer systems integrators to lead implementation projects.”

Tomorrow we’ll look at what Forrester finds are the ten CRM trends to watch in 2006.

PacificNet Inc. a provider of Customer Relationship Management and telemarketing services, call center, Direct Response Television and Value-Added Services in China, announced today that it has entered into definitive agreement for the private placement of $8 million Senior Convertible Notes with several institutional investors.

Proceeds from the financing will be used to provide the company with additional working capital to expand its telecom value-added services, business process outsourcing, and CRM operations, and to make what company officials describe as “further synergistic acquisitions in China along with working capital and for general corporate purposes.”

The $8 million aggregate face amount of the company’s Senior Convertible Notes has an initial conversion price of $10.00 per share. The investors were also issued warrants to purchase 400,000 shares of the company’s common stock at $12.20 per share, subject to certain anti-dilution provisions.

“We believe that this additional capital will allow us to continue our rapid growth in our target markets,” said Victor Tong, PacificNet’s President. “We believe the investment will further our current initiatives such as iPACT, iMobile and ChinaGoHi and greatly enhance our customer base, revenue, profit, and our shareholder value.”

In New Zealand, the Pizza Hut and KFC national call center, the first Burger King stores and the first Wellington fast food store have reportedly joined the SuperSizeMyPay.Com month of industrial action.

SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign co-ordinator, Simon Oosterman, said that the actions were a part of an escalating month of industrial action in the fast food industry leading up to the “” demonstration and free concert on Saturday on the 18th of March.

“In central Auckland, 60 call center workers, who take delivery orders for KFC and Pizza Hut nation-wide, went on strike. The striking workers called on customers who were ordering pizzas on the 0800 83 83 83 number to say a message of support, and kept the strike to an hour to minimize disruption to customers,” he said.

KVOA-TV in Tucson is reporting that Cincinnati-based Convergys Corp. will pay “more than $350,000 in back wages to about 1,400 past and present employees of a Tucson call center” after a federal investigation found Convergys Corp. failed to compensate them for some of their time.

Convergys issued a statement that denied allegations of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, but confirmed that it had reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to pay the back wages, the television station reported:

“The back wages for the ‘pre-shift’ work time will be paid to employees for work performed between September 2002 and April 2005 at Convergys, which at one time had more than 1,400 employees and a second Tucson location. The company currently employs about 500 people at its call center in Tucson.”

Pre-shift time consisted of logging onto the computer and bringing up all applications needed to begin receiving or making calls, according to a former Convergys worker.

Enterasys Networks, which bills itself as “the Secure Networks Company,” has announced that several of its secure switching products have passed the Department of Defense Joint Interoperability Test Command’s Voice-over-IP interoperability testing.

This certification enables DoD customers to purchase Enterasys switches that comply with DoD requirements for LAN-based VoIP infrastructure components. The JITC interoperability certification confirms Enterasys switches have passed a multi-vendor VoIP environment testing.

Enterasys Networks is among the first vendors to receive the newly established LAN switching certification for VoIP networks. This is useful since government customers frequently need to mix and match JITC-certified IP PBX systems with LAN infrastructure components. The JITC certification assures users that Enterasys switching products will interoperate with a variety of IP PBX vendors, which provides DoD customers more choices when they select VoIP systems.

If poets’ birthdays are your thing then friend, today’s your day, as Robert Lowell, Richard Wilbur, Howard Nemerov and Robert Hass were all born today, as was Ralph Ellison, author of The Invisible Man.

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