First Coffee for 24 March 2006

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

First Coffee for 24 March 2006

By David Sims

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, 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 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’s IPO performance which valued 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.

Nelson also told Martens that having set up a wholly owned subsidiary in Japan earlier this month, NetSuite now wants to tap the lucrative China market by working with local partners.

NetSuite’s hosted enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management products are aimed at the SME market.

Contact center equipment and furnishings manufacturer Pro Tech Communications, Inc. has reported net sales for the three months ended December 31, 2005 were $379,504, compared to $315,689 in the same period in 2004, an increase of $63,815, or 20.2 percent.

This increase was primarily due to contact center sales. Net loss for the three months ended December 31, 2005 was $623,648, compared to $511,569 for the same period a year ago, an unfavorable variance of $112,079, or 21.9 percent. This variance was primarily due to increases in engineering expenses in connection with new product activities.

Net sales for the year ended December 31, 2005 were $1,260,978 compared to $1,075,633 in the same period in 2004, an increase of $185,345 or 17.2 percent. The increase was primarily due to sales of consumer audio and contact center products.

Net loss for the year ended December 31, 2005 was $2,061,987 compared to $1,390,155 for the same period a year ago, an unfavorable variance of $671,832, or 48.3 percent. This increase in net loss was due mainly to increases in engineering and marketing expenses in connection with new product activities.

Pro Tech’s most recognized brands include the Apollo line of products for the office and call center, the ProCom line of headsets for drive-through restaurant personnel and the NoiseBuster electronic noise canceling consumer audio headphone and safety earmuff.

According to recent research from Best Practices, LLC, some companies are rethinking their “cheaper is better” approach to call centers.

“Although many companies see the instant gratification of outsourcing thanks to lower labor costs, drop in service quality, retention, product knowledge and customer satisfaction can eat up the profits from what seemed to be a wise investment,” the research firm concludes.

They point to a major computer manufacturer who recently chose to divert all support calls away from its contact center in Bangalore and towards its domestic call center in Texas. Costly, yes, but considered a necessity after corporate (note the adjective) customers kept complaining of low service quality.

Afni, Inc., a vendor of customer interaction products primarily in the communications and insurance industries, is announcing a brand of interaction outsourcing they like to call “upsourcing” with a product called OpenSpan.

The product allows users to integrate multiple desktop applications (i.e., WIN32, WEB, Green Screen, Java Swing, etc.) in minutes without coding or scripting.

Mike Garner, Vice President Call Center Services says OpenSpan comes with “a team of people with ‘what if’ and ‘can do’ attitudes.”

Outsourcers have the difficult task of needing to integrate desktop applications, Garner says, “but typically without access to those applications running on the desktop. Before OpenSpan it was either too costly, too complicated or not possible to integrate applications in many contact centers.”

And a happy birthday to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born today in 1919, a poet and proprietor of City Lights bookstore in San Francisco, the cynosure for the Beat movement in American literature in the 1950s.

He published Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” in September 1956. When a shipment of the book was seized by customs officials in San Francisco for being lewd and indecent material Ferlinghetti was sued. He won the case and all the publicity made “Howl” into a best-seller. Ferlinghetti said the San Francisco customs office deserved a word of thanks, since “it would have taken years for critics to accomplish what the good customs office did in a day.”

In 1958 he also published his own collection of poetry, A Coney Island of the Mind, which had twenty-eight printings and sold 700,000 copies in the United States alone, making it easily the best selling book ever published by a living American poet.

Whatever you think of the embarrassingly overrated Beat movement or Ferlinghetti’s poetry itself, you have to at least respect the fact that the guy’s a businessman who does honest work: He’s one of the few poets in the United States of any importance who has never held a job at a university, never received government funding, never attended an MLA conference, and never won a Pulitzer.

For the record the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for poetry went to Robert Penn Warren, author of All the King’s Men, one of the greatest 20th century American novels and certainly no second-rate poet, for his Promises: Poems 1954-1956.

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