First Coffee for 8 May: SAS's CRM-Focused BI, Broadband Job Losses To Mount In Britain, True and Cisco's IP In Thailand, Voxeo and MAP's VoIP and IVR Partnership

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 8 May: SAS's CRM-Focused BI, Broadband Job Losses To Mount In Britain, True and Cisco's IP In Thailand, Voxeo and MAP's VoIP and IVR Partnership

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Ornette Coleman’s Change of the Century:

First Coffee got a heads-up from a good friend at SAS that on Wednesday, SAS will announce the availability of five new business intelligence products as software-as-a-service offerings to complement SAS Solutions OnDemand: Web Analytics, and that “two of the five are CRM focused.”

Business Objects has claimed to be the first BI vendor to offer software as a service, according to SAS, who counter-claim SAS has provided customers with hosted products for five years. “In 2005 we earned $20 million in revenue from these offerings,” a SAS official said, claiming that makes SAS “the largest on-demand business intelligence software vendor.”

While is a report sharing mechanism and doesn’t offer any other functionality, SAS’ software as a service offerings do provide users with SAS Enterprise BI Server, including capabilities for portals, query and reporting, Microsoft Office integration, OLAP and analysis.

A recent study by Gartner reported that BI is “the number one technology priority of CIO’s in 2006.” SAS’s new products seem to be going after those companies who get only a modest increase in their IT budget but who want to “do BI.”

Look for more broadband job losses in the United Kingdom. According to the Birmingham Post, “NTL appears set to announce thousands of job cuts following its merger with cable rival Telewest… reports suggested 4,000 jobs, perhaps even as many as 6,000, could be lost in the UK.”

The article said “head office roles will be cut and call centre jobs transferred overseas.” Given that there are about 17,000 employees total, the job losses will affect one in four staff.

However, the Post says “there will be little impact on Virgin Mobile which is being run as a separate business following the pounds 962 million purchase of the company last month.”

Naturally there’s a lot of uncertainty, but one thing relatively well understood is that “most of the combined group’s call centers will be outsourced, with some of the jobs going to offshore centers in India.”

NTL emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2003, organizing a rights issue to raise pounds 824.3 million and cutting workforce, axing 1,500 call centre jobs two years ago.

As the Post reports, “NTL merged with Telewest in March to create the largest provider of residential broadband services in the UK. It has indicated that savings will total pounds 250 million over the next three years.”

True Corp. Plc., a Thailand communication products provider, has expanded its services portfolio for corporate and small and medium-sized enterprise customers with its MPLS Data Networking Solution, a service based on the Cisco Systems Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network architecture and IP Multiprotocol Label Switching technology.

The service will initially handle data but can also be used to offer voice and video services to business customers over a converged network. It’s now available in Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand, names of which aren’t coming immediately to First Coffee.

According to Songtham Phianpattanawit, a guy who never has to spell his name over the phone when speaking to Westerners and True’s managing director of corporate solutions, wholesale and data, “The latest offering, ‘MPLS Data Networking Solution’ from True, in conjunction with Cisco, will provide our customers with tremendous operational benefits.”

The True MPLS product supports customers’ demands for converged networking products, company officials say, characterizing it as “especially suitable for enterprises that view network connectivity as crucial for their business and that have branches in many locations.”

Vorkon Patra-Yanan, the regional managing director for Indochina (now there’s a refreshing colonial neologism) at Cisco, said he’s gratified that True “has put its faith in IP technology.” He confirmed that Cisco will offer True integrated data, voice and video services for its corporate customers.

“True built the first 10-gigabit IP network in Thailand, and this IP/MPLS-based service is another step in the right direction,” Patra-Yanan remarked.

At the core of True’s Cisco IP NGN architecture are the Cisco 12000 Series Router and the Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series Switch. The Cisco 12000 Series comprises routers that scale from 2.5 Gbps/slot to 40 G/slot to service-enable carrier IP/MPLS core and edge networks.

MPLS is an industry-standard technology that developed from Cisco’s tag-switching technology. It’s embedded in Cisco IOS software, the operating system in Cisco’s routers and switches.

The technology also helps deliver end-to-end IP services with simpler configuration, management and provisioning for both Internet providers and subscribers. The technology can serve communications speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second.

True Corporation Public Company Limited the largest wireline service provider in Bangkok, the largest broadband provider in the country and a major player mobile phone service provider.

Voxeo Corporation, a vendor of standards-based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Voice-over-IP (VoIP) platforms, and MAP Telecom, an IVR hosting provider in Europe and the Middle East, have announced a multi-year strategic partnership whereby Voxeo will provide the IVR infrastructure for MAP Telecom’s current facilities in Europe and four planned facilities in the Middle East.

The partnership twins the Voxeo Prophecy platform, a 100 percent VoiceXML-compliant platform, with MAP Telecom’s “expertise in serving enterprise customers with multiple language needs across Europe, the Middle East and Africa,” according to MAP officials.

The partnership gives customers the choice to move from MAP Telecom’s legacy platform as well as providing for MAP Telecom’s 2,500 developers’ migration to a new and expanded multi-language developer community portal based on the Voxeo Evolution site.

MAP Telecom will also continue to promote access to its platform using Skype.

Jon Alcantara, COO of MAP Telecom said the deal will hopefully keep MAP “in the forefront of VoiceXML hosting in Europe.”

Alcantra said their customers demand best-of-breed technology and require features such as CCXML and call center support. “We have evaluated all of the leading VoiceXML providers, and Voxeo is clearly our first choice,” he noted.

Jonathan Taylor, Voxeo’s CEO called the partnership “a key part of Voxeo’s efforts in Europe and the Middle East.”

The Voxeo platform will be operational in MAP Telecom’s facilities in the South of France starting this month and will be rolled out across facilities in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, among others, over the next 24 months.

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