First Coffee for 2 March, 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 2 March, 2006

By David Sims

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. When the DVD was released in 2001, over 30 years since the first transmission, it sold a staggering 37,000 copies in its first month and scooped Best Comedy on DVD at the Quality Street Awards.

Fawlty Towers is an English resort hotel Basil Fawlty (Cleese) and his wife Sybil hilariously mismanage. One thing to note is that it’s co-written by Cleese’s wife at the time, who played Polly the maid on the show, ah… shoot, her name escapes me at the moment.

And this is the nagging thing about Cleese: Sure he’s funny, but he only writes well in partnership. Everything he’s known for, his really top shelf work, which is the Monty Python stuff and Fawlty Towers, was co-written. I can’t think of anything he’s written on his own that’s above average.

Akimbo’s service complements existing broadcast, cable and satellite systems, featuring on-demand video and movies from over 185 providers. Programs include well-known film and television fare as well as hard-to-find specialty video in areas like extreme sports, education, music, healthy sustainable living, independent films and foreign languages.

Connie Booth, that’s it. Prunella Scales was Sybil Fawlty, Booth was Polly the maid, Andrew Sachs was Manuel. That Irish chef never really caught on, I forget his name.

Oh, Forrester, right. Ten trends to watch in CRM. Band breaks ten trends down into three general groups: Five trends emanating from the fact that he finds enterprises are digesting their CRM technology investments and striving to get more worth out of these expenditures, three evident as CRM software technology firms continue to adapt to the demands of their customers and two resulting from the role professional services providers will play in helping enterprise get more value from CRM.

Of the most important trends the report presents, remediation of existing CRM implementations will continue, Band found after Forrester spoke with 22 large organizations in North America, Europe, and Asia to understand their methods for achieving business performance improvement from investment in CRM initiatives.

But a survey of 94 business and IT executives about their satisfaction with CRM applications only that only 29 percent were satisfied with how easy it is for CRM applications to integrate with existing data applications and sources, only 34 percent were happy with how easy it is to work with CRM software vendors after they have purchased applications and services and less than 50 percent felt that the business benefits achieved met their expectations, or stated that they were able to quickly realize value from the applications. Not good stats, folks.

In the second group of trends Band also finds that CRM will become part of business process platforms. “The rapid consolidation of the enterprise applications vendors during the last few years,” he writes, “has made it possible for companies to go to a single vendor to buy cross-enterprise enabling functionality based on a single source of data.”

Examples given include Amdoc’s purchase of Clarify, thereby closing the gap between billing and CRM, and Oracle’s multiple acquisitions of CRM such as PeopleSoft and Siebel. SAP and Microsoft are jumping on the trend as well.

And as far as consultants go, don’t worry, guys, you’ll stay in business, but if you want more referrals you need to do a better job, as Band finds that enterprises will be more demanding of their services partners. Buyer spending on IT consulting and systems integration services will continue to be significant in 2006, he concludes, “growing about 5 percent per year in line with the overall all expansion of IT expenditures.

North American spending on IT consulting (IT strategy, business process consulting, and change management) will reach $26.7 billion in the coming year, and expenditures on systems integration (packaged applications implementation, custom applications development, and applications integration) will reach $89.6 billion, but Forrester research also shows that four out of ten business and IT executives from 50 large organizations “would not recommend their CRM professional services provider to other companies.”

So if you get a consultant referred to you by someone else, it’s an almost even bet that it’s because they don’t like you.

Much more good stuff in the report, of course.

Some good news for beleaguered GlobeTel Communications Corp., which announced yesterday that its Sanswire Networks LLC subsidiary has successfully floated the Sanswire II Technology Demonstrator Airship in Palmdale, California.

No word yet on their megamillions Russian deal, which was supposed to be consummated today – it’s 10:30 in the morning as I write this in Istanbul, after lunch in Moscow – after being delayed from the end of January, we’ll keep checking the news wires for that one.

GlobeTel was supposed to get $150 million of the $600 million for that deal from their Russian partners at the end of January, but when that didn’t happen they said they’d get $300 million by about today.

The Sanswire float test followed what GlobeTel officials called “our streamlined test procedure in order to validate the envelope integrity with the Sanswire proprietary lifting system and carbon composite structure.” So they were making sure the materials the demonstration blimp’s made out of actually works, and mission accomplished.

Timothy Huff, CEO of GlobeTel said in a prepared statement that “the success of the test gives us a lead in the high altitude airship market… I look forward to the continued acceleration of our test program, and to launching our first commercial vehicle in the coming future.”

Stay tuned.

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