First Coffee for Tax Day 2006 - Indian CRM News, Maybank's Contact Center, Alien's RFID IPO, Happy Birthday Leonardo, Taipei's Muni Wi-Fi

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for Tax Day 2006 - Indian CRM News, Maybank's Contact Center, Alien's RFID IPO, Happy Birthday Leonardo, Taipei's Muni Wi-Fi

By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Peter Wolf and Mick Jagger’s duet “Nothing But The Wheel:”

It’s Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday today in 1452, patron saint for all of us who have a hard time finishing things – the guy only finished seventeen paintings in his 67 years, and of those only a few were as he wanted them.

You know about the Mona Lisa and Last Supper and all that, another story:

In 1482, Leonardo began a sculpture of a horse. It was extremely difficult to design because the final product would weigh many tons when cast in bronze, and Leonardo wanted the horse to be rearing back on its hind legs.

He spent eleven years sketching out the product to the problem of the horse's balance, but when he tried to cast the horse in bronze, he found that all the bronze in the city had been used to build cannons for an impending war. So the sculpture went unfinished until 1999, when an American sculptor used his drawings and plans to build the horse. The finished product was twenty-three feet high, weighing fifteen tons, and it was perfectly balanced.

Malaysia’s The Star is reporting that Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has invested more than $16.3 million to set up “what is believed to be the country's largest call center owned by a local financial provider.”

Senior executive vice-president and head of retail financial services, Datuk Johar Che Mat, told The Star the investment was mainly for deploying world-class facilities including interactive voice response facility and customer relationship management software.

Since Maybank had more than seven million customers, the call center had been designed with a customer-centric focus – “to take the bank's customer service to a higher level and achieve the bank's overall business strategy,” The Star reports:

The 24-hour contact center, operated by a staff of 300, occupies some 50,000 square feet in Bukit Jelutong aims to be a one-stop service center for banking, finance, insurance, credit card and unit trust services, as well as telemarketing.

“For calls answered within 20 seconds of waiting time, we achieved a 90 percent success against the 80 percent global industry practice,” a company official said. The call center's percentage of abandon rate – calls that went unanswered – is 4 percent and below the 5 percent global benchmark.

India Business Insight has reported on recent CRM moves in that country:

UTI Bank has migrated its critical CRM applications on the Red Hat Enterprise Linux platform.

The bank has also achieved 99.9 percent uptime at its call center, handling over 7,000 calls per day using Red Hat Enterprise Linux along with Red Hat Cluster Suite. The migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux has resulted in significant improvement in performance and manageability as well as reduction in operating cost, bank officials say.

Tata Motors is a fully integrated automobile manufacturer with 22,000 employees and one million customers. The company has a major share of India's medium and heavy commercial vehicles market.

The company implemented a comprehensive CRM product, Siebel Automotive, to provide a complete view of individual dealerships from inventory management and credit reporting to calculating commissions. The implementation of the product has helped in streamlined transactions and improved customer service, company officials say.

Siebel Automotive has been integrated with a wide range of SAP back-office applications, including applications inventory management, fulfillment and parts location.

Asian Paints Ltd. has implemented the CRM product from SAP. The CRM product has been implemented to create a better customer information channel.

The implementation of the product has helped the company to give a consistent and intelligent response to the consumer. The product has also resulted in complete visibility of all partners providing service, revenue reports and know-how of problem areas.

New Zealand-based Geekzone tech blogger Juha Saarinen reports, after sifting numerous Taiwanese Web sites, that Taipei's municipal authorities “have decided to blanket the city with Wi-Fi, a project that was almost completed end of last year.”

It seems to be part of the "Cyber Citizen" project, Saarinen says, “which aims to promote Taipei as a technologically advanced city. The project also has as its aim to reduce congestion, by providing an increasing number of services over the Internet so that people don't have to travel so much – not a bad idea, as Taipei is already quite busy, and further growth would be hard to fit in.”

Saarinen report that it's not very easy to work out from the rather chaotic Taiwanese websites, the Taipei City Government posted these IT related statistics on its site:

  • Taipei's Population – 2,625,445
  • Percentage of Taipei households with computers – 88 percent
  • Percentage of Taipei households with Internet access – 84 percent
  • Percentage of Taipei households with a broadband Internet connection – 64 percent
  • Percentage of Taipei residents with mobile phones – 87 percent
  • Percentage of Taipei residents using PWLN connections – 13 percent

For now, it looks like WiFly is free: “The trial period has been extended (but they don't tell you until when) so lucky Taipeians... the signal strength in various parts of the centre of the town was pretty good I found and you always had at least two access points to choose from.”

Saarinen says that the city government intends to provide a whole range of service over the WiFly network, “but it looks like it'll be used for making free VoIP calls as well:

Ennyah will make Wifi as well as converged Wifi/GSM handsets that will work over the WiFly network, providing free calling for a flat-rate US$33 a month (Wifi+GSM) or US$16 (Wifi) - the cost includes unlimited international calling as well.”

Saarinen reports that “when I tried connecting to servers in NZ while in Taipei, I noted that traffic went via the US and thus had large roundtrip times, over 400ms in most cases. In comparison, the roundtrip time for Taiwan-US traffic was around 120-130ms.”

This past week Alien Technology Corporation announced that it has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of approximately $120 million of its common stock.

It is expected that all shares sold in the offering will be sold by the company.

Alien is a vendor of EPC RFID tags, readers, and services, and the performance of their IPO will serve as a bellwether on the industry. The company seeks to be listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol RFID.

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