First Coffee for Easter Monday 2006: CRM (And Other Positive Signs) In India, Data Impact and Speedscan Merge, Free Wi-Fi in Sacramento Airport, VoIP Vendor Contested in Philippines

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for Easter Monday 2006: CRM (And Other Positive Signs) In India, Data Impact and Speedscan Merge, Free Wi-Fi in Sacramento Airport, VoIP Vendor Contested in Philippines

By David Sims


The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Al Green’s version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry:”

Document products companies Data Impact and Speedscan have announced that the two companies have merged, creating a company with worldwide reach in selling document management.

The closely held company will operate as Data Impact in the U.S. and Speedscan in the Asia Pacific region. The combined company has a worldwide workforce in excess of 150 people.

Data Impact CEO Bill Plant-Mason said it’s his belief that “customers prefer a single provider of outsourced business processes,” and that the newly-merged company “can now offer, on an international basis, a complete suite of document management services, including digitizing and indexing of high volumes of paper documents, conversion of microfilm and fiche to digital documents, integration and management of complex electronic print streams and a unique ‘click to pay’ electronic remittance system.”

The new company blends Data Impact’s print stream processing, document scanning and film conversion services with Speedscan’s document archival products.

The recent merger follows the acquisition by Data Impact last year of Florida-based Leahy Corporation, a regional film scanning specialist.

“Our strategy,” said Data Impact Chairman Charles Koehler, “is to keep adding geographically and product-wise to our comprehensive suite of services, providing the document imaging and management answers our clients want and need in order to stay ahead of their competitors.”

He characterized this merger with Speedscan as “a very important step” toward that goal.”

Readers might have noticed that First Coffee spends more time than average tracking developments in India. That’s not completely without design, it’s my belief that India, in 20 years’ time, will be a more dynamic, productive and important economy than China or the EU, unless one of two things happen: China frees up its political structure, or the EU finds a way to reverse its demographic decline. Either could happen, I guess, at least mathematically, but if you’re betting money, right now the smart bet’s India.

Especially when it comes to technological developments requiring creativity and innovation, such as CRM, China and the EU can’t touch India. The Economic Times an Indian publication, has a recent article on how the “drab and matter-of-fact business model of container freight stations is giving way to more sophisticated etiquettes, made to perfection by consumer marketing.”

It cites Saurashtra Containers, a container freight station going operational by the month-end in Mundra in Gujarat, which is “is putting a lot of stress on customer relationship management.”

Looking at the large cargo hub for Mundra Port that starts from north and western India (Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, western UP & MP & Gujarat), the company has opened offices at New Delhi, Ahmedabad and Mumbai with dedicated relationship managers.

Personalized level of services and customer care will be the prime focus to facilitate our clients, Sant Khare, CEO of Saurashtra Containers told The Economic Times:

“Accordingly, relationship mangers would guide their clients about the advantages of routing their cargo through the facility, about location like Mundra could reduce their logistics cost, apart from offering them the host of services that are on offer at the CFS.”

Not only the whole team but also everyone at the facility have been put a three week training on every aspects of CFS functioning at par with international standards, Khare said, adding that “the 25-acre facility will have 20,000 square mile covered storage area and container stacking capacity of 5,500 TEUs in the properly paved container yard.”

Properly paved.

Incidentally, another reason to be bullish on India is that whereas in China economic “growth” is largely the province of state-owned corporations which don’t operate in genuine economic reality, IBM India has recently announced that it is seeking opportunities to boost its revenues in the small and medium business segment, since “almost 60 percent of the information technology spending in India is accrued from the SMB segment,” according to India Business Insight.

And that is a great sign of vital economic growth, the SMB sector: “The segment has been recording growth of 17 percent in India as against the industry average of 15 percent. The high growth rate is attributed to the increased availability of bandwidth and more comprehensive product offerings from IT vendors. IBM has also decided to enhance its presence in Tier-II cities by increasing the number of channel partners from 170 to 225.”

In another positive development in Wi-Fi, The Sacramento Bee is reporting that travelers passing through Sacramento International Airport will have free wireless Internet access, after airport officials decided to scrap a fee-based service.

“Every public area inside both Terminals A and B will have Wi-Fi connections, making Sacramento International the only major Northern California airport with free access,” airport officials told the Bee Friday.

Since August 2003, the airport has offered Wi-Fi service in partnership with Airport Network Products, but users paid $6.95 a day to get online. So when the airport’s contract with Airport Network ended this month, officials decided to make the service free.

Airport spokeswoman Karen Doron told the Bee that “we felt it was more important to offer this service for free, rather than make a little money off it.” Indeed, the Bee reports, “the airport’s share of the $6.95 access fees went to pay off Airport Network for the equipment it had installed.”

In the Philippines, the publication Business World is reporting that Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. petitioned regulators last Wednesday to revoke the license that the latter awarded a non-telco for offering internet telephony to PLDT subscribers.

The National Telecommunications Commission gave non-telco Transpacific Broadcast Group International, Inc. the authority to resell voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to PLDT subscribers in Manila, Laguna, Angeles, Pampanga and parts of Cavite.

Rogelio V. Quevedo, lawyer of PLDT, told Business World that TBGI is a mere corporate client of PLDT Corporate Business Group and therefore “can neither re-sell PLDT VoIP services to domestic clients nor commercially offer PLDT i-Gate Mode internet service to clients in Japan, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan.”

VoIP resellers are entities that source VoIP from an authorized provider under an agreement to resell the service directly to retail clients, and Quevedo claims that since TBGI is a corporate client of PLDT “it cannot resell our VoIP or internet services. There is clearly a breach of contract on their part… it claimed to have an interconnection agreement with us; there is none. It can only resell our VoIP if we can agree to an interconnection fee that is the market rate for inter-network connections.”

NTC had opened the gates of VoIP business to non-telcos like internet service providers and value-added service providers in November 2005, Business World notes, adding that “previously, VoIP was a territory of telcos, which put up fierce opposition to the liberalization of VoIP by citing telcos’ massive investment in laying out telecom infrastructure. Non-telcos that NTC allowed to operate as either VoIP reseller or provider are TBGI, listed firm Cashrounds, Inc., Cebu-based Technetworks Corp., and BTnT Network Corp.”

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