First Coffee for 5 June: Kazakhstan To Liberalize Telecom, CRM Vendor Satuit Doing Just Peachy, Do CRM and Other Acronyms Spell Value?

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David Sims
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First Coffee for 5 June: Kazakhstan To Liberalize Telecom, CRM Vendor Satuit Doing Just Peachy, Do CRM and Other Acronyms Spell Value?

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “Au Fond Du Temple Saint Redux,” by the East Village Opera Company:

The Times of Central Asia has a worthwhile article on the deregulation of the Kazakh telecommunications market, well worth a read. We’ll summarize it and hit the highlights here:

The government of Kazakhstan met on May 18 to discuss liberalizing the telecommunications market. Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov criticized Kazakhtelecom, which, he said, was obstructing alternative telecom operators, and gave a three-week period for de-monopolization measures to be drawn up.

The government plans to de-monopolize the industry in August 2006.

The Kazakh prime minister has been said to be “not happy” with the rate of liberalization in the country’s telecoms industry and has criticized the national operator Kazakhtelecom for obstructing alternative operators on the market.

“From 2004 to the first quarter of this year, 852 telecom operators have found it necessary to work in this sector, but there are only 36 operators connected (to Kazakhtelecom communication lines),” Akhmetov said.

Akhmetov said that because of monopolization in the national telecoms market, Internet services in Kazakhstan were among the most expensive in the world, double the rate of similar tariffs in the United States, three times that of China, 150% more than in Germany, 45% higher than Turkey and 200% more than Russia.

International call services are four times as expensive as the U.S., five times that of China, almost 40% more than in Germany and almost 500% higher than in Turkey, he said.

For many indicators, the level of development in Kazakhstan is lower than in Belarus and Ukraine, especially for fixed-line telephone density, number of Internet users and the level of mobile phone penetration – 37% in Kazakhstan, 43% in Belarus and over 62% in Ukraine.

There are two tasks ahead, the prime minister said: “First, it is necessary to create competition on the market, and second, to protect the interests of the Kazakh population, which, undoubtedly, can only be done by creating a competitive sector.”

Akhmetov said the government “may well divide (Kazakhtelecom assets) and carry out de-monopolization by functional indication: the government with its stake will own the relevant main networks, in accordance with the evaluation that the state property and privatization committee makes and other shareholders will own the rest of the assets.”

The level of digitalization in the country’s telecoms network on April 1 2006 was 73.6% (52.64% in rural areas); telephone density (per 100 residents) was 17.7. The number of main telephones was about 2.5 million in the first quarter and there were about 5.8 million mobile phone customers. The population of Kazakhstan exceeds 15.2 million.

Wireless services accounted for 45.4% of revenue, international and interstate for 19.8%, local calls for 7.9%, the Internet for 5.2%, TV and radio broadcasting for 3.5% and other telecom services for 13.2%.

Mobile communications are currently developing most dynamically. Revenue jumped 72.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2006. Revenue also climbed considerably at 54.9% for Internet access services, 61% for data transfer services and 49% for telecom channel leasing.

Read the whole thing.

Satuit Technologies, Inc. wants you to know it’s doing just fine, thank you.

Company officials have announced that the CRM vendor, which styles itself “the fastest growing provider of customer relationship management (CRM) solutions for investment professionals,” grew its recurring revenue base by 124% in 2005, and “is on target to double its recurring revenues in 2006.”

“The significant growth that Satuit has, and continues to experience, is a direct reflection of the maturity on the CRM market space,” thinks Karen Maguire, Chief Executive Officer of Satuit Technologies.  ”Investment Professionals are no longer willing to suffer through the use of generic CRM solutions that do not match their specific market needs.”

The company's account base grew by 82% in 2005 and is on target for another fifty percent in 2006, company officials say, adding that “the number of users grew by sixty eight percent, including new users added by existing accounts.”

The company’s SatuitCRM system is described by company officials as being designed for asset management and hedge fund companies.

Interesting piece in Manufacturing Talk (“The No. 1 Production Engineering news source… updated daily!”) on how acronyms such as ERP, BI, CRM and SI (Sales Intelligence, not Sports Illustrated) tend to be more salesmanship than substance.

“Before CRM was even dreamt of, there was something called Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). This acronym can be traced back to the 1960s and early methods of inventory control, but was later understood as the business strategy that promised to automate the ‘back-office’, provide financial reporting and control the supply chain.”

And of course BI grew out of ERP PDQ, and when “this trend towards harnessing and using key data had spread to the ‘front office’,” lo and behold we got another highly marketable acronym (HMA), CRM, in the mid-1990s.

In the early years, CRM simply referred to the software used to help businesses manage their customer information (SUTHBMTCI), predominantly SFA, that focused on customer contact management, the article says.

Wild success ensued: “It is estimated that the global market for CRM services and solutions is now worth $4.8 billion, which gives some indication (SI, not to be confused with either Sales Intelligence or Sports Illustrated) as to how far the market has developed since those early days.”

So where does CRM and related technologies fit with industrial manufacturing and distribution companies? The same place it does anywhere else (SPIDAE), evidently: “In any industry, the key to making a decision about buying software is to be sure you understand what business problem it is actually a ‘solution’ for.”

Amen. Some of us have been saying that for years now. “This may seem obvious but it’s surprising just how few businesses actually take the time to do this and end up buying software that is too expensive, too onerous to fully implement and that the company rarely uses to anything near it’s potential,” the article notes in a passage harping on the blindingly obvious (PHOTBO) this reporter and many others could have written in our sleep any year from, oh, 1996 on.

The recent arrest of terrorism suspects in Canada has raised “possible connections between the 17 suspects in Canada and at least 18 suspected militants who have been arrested in locations including the United States, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Britain, Denmark and Sweden,” the Los Angeles Times is reporting.

And how did they manage to do that? “[O]ver the past year, the counter-terrorism authorities of those countries began to see connections among the cells, in part through electronic surveillance of phone calls and Internet correspondence, as well as ground surveillance of individual suspects, several U.S. officials said Sunday.

Let me repeat that: “in part through electronic surveillance of phone calls.” How upset the ACLU must be that good, honest police work resulted in the arrest of people planning to kill lots of innocent Canadian citizens.

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