First Coffee for 14 March 2006

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

First Coffee for 14 March 2006

By David Sims

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 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. “Software companies have incredibly complex financial processes, from complex billing requirements to revenue recognition to licensing and subscription management,” company officials say (from experience, no doubt). The new product has “a host of new functionality to streamline all of these processes, reducing pain, error rate, and cost.”

New functionality includes revenue recognition “that supports AICPA, FASB and SEC regulations (including SOP 81-1, SAB 101, and EITF 00-21),” and a host of other requirements. It also supports Sarbanes-Oxley compliance with Section 404, says it can help manage both GAAP revenues and billings separately, a crucial operation for most software companies.

There’s also a new advanced billing feature allowing finance departments to automate billing processes and eliminate the manual work typically associated with billing customers, “reducing errors and saving the company time and money.” ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, sure enough.

Good customer relationship management (CRM) can make or break a software company, let’s face it. The products aren’t exactly fungible, but there’s very little out there that’s completely unique, basically a lot of repeat business and word-of-mouth is due to customer service and the customer experience – “Wow, sorry your software vendors are being such dorks about that. Hey listen, the guys I deal with pick up the phone and sweat a little to help solve our problems…”

First CoffeeSM agrees with NetSuite that complete lead-to-order functionality in-system, that elusive “360-degree customer view,” is vital to delivering a high level of service, thereby increasing sales conversion, up-sell and retention. It’s heartening to see companies putting time and effort into making software designed to provide that.

That’s why it’s good to see this NetSuite product has stuff like a Partner Relationship Management function, which focuses on partnerships with resellers, referral and business development partners and makes them full allies. Now software companies can have the same level of visibility, transaction management and performance metrics with reseller, consulting or marketing partners that they have with their internal teams.

The self-service customer portals providing password-protected self-service access to order history, outstanding invoices, and trouble tickets, are also a great idea, providing greater service at lower cost.

NetSuite-Software Company Edition is available immediately.

Red Bend Software, a vendor of mobile software management technology, has announced that Sharp Corporation will use Red Bend’s firmware over the air update client suite to allow customers to wirelessly download software upgrades to the Vodafone 904SH handset offered by Vodafone K.K. in Japan.

This function will enable Vodafone 904SH customers to upgrade their phones without visiting a service facility.

Red Bend’s vCurrent Mobile FOTA client suite is installed on the Vodafone 904SH, a new 3G handset from Sharp. The handset is scheduled to be available in April 2006.

The Red Bend technology lets mobile handset manufacturers and operators deliver updated firmware over the air to phones already in users’ hands. It achieves this by generating updates that are extremely compact, allowing them to be delivered and integrated onto the handset “with 100 percent accuracy,” company officials claim.

Satuit Technologies, Inc., a CRM vendor for investment professionals, has announced the commercial availability of SatuitCRM v.10.3 the third release under Satuit’s RDC Program (rapid development cycle).

The company releases incremental upgrades every 12 weeks. Satuit is currently on track to release SatuitCRM v.10.4 in May of 2006.

“We moved from annual upgrades to the RDC Program because this allows us to respond much more quickly to customer feedback,” says Njal Larson, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy.

The products are focused on the investment sector, and examples of the industry specific enhancements in v .10.3 include “Sales Opportunity Linking,” a feature linking consultants and other influencers directly to a sales opportunity, and which lets you search by influencer role – consultant, intermediary, trustee, board member, whatever.

There’s also a function to track trading restrictions, giving users a method to track trade restrictions on their clients’ portfolios, and account information importers, import wizards for importing portfolio level information such as valuations, performance and holdings.

Happy birthday to Albert Einstein, born in Ulm, Germany in 1879.

In school he almost never talked to the other children, and he refused to study any subject he didn’t find interesting. According to The Writer’s Almanac, “the only subjects he did find interesting were math and philosophy.”

He miraculously was accepted to – and even more miraculously graduated from – a technical college in Zurich, got married and took a job at the Swiss patent office. When his son was born, he “began studying and thinking at all hours of the day and night while taking care of the baby.”

Above all, The Writer’s Almanac says, “he was interested in finding some law that could explain all the forces in the universe, from gravity to electromagnetism. One night, in the spring of 1905, he stayed up late working on a problem, but went to bed extremely disappointed. The following morning, he woke up and suddenly everything made sense. He said, ‘It was as if a storm broke loose in my mind.’”

Einstein spent the next several weeks writing a paper on his theory, which came to be called the Special Theory of Relativity, the theory that both time and motion are relative to the observer. He published three more papers in 1905, including the paper that included his most famous equation: E = mc2, the theoretical basis for nuclear weapons.

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