CRM "Success" Up, CRM For the Kids, Net Neutrality Toasted and Tim Henman: Roadkill.

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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CRM "Success" Up, CRM For the Kids, Net Neutrality Toasted and Tim Henman: Roadkill.

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Jim White's (The Mysterious Tale Of How I Shouted) Wrong-Eyed Jesus, First Coffee's favorite American album made since Tom Waits' Rain Dogs:

Is First Coffee shocked that Net neutrality failed in Congress? Not really. It's not the absolute stupidest thing Congress has ever done -- there's way too much competition for that title -- but since ensuring it would have required adherence to principles other than kowtowing to contributors it's not particularly surprising that it got toasted.

We'll look at it for a couple days and have more to say about it Saturday, once all the shakin' and hollerin's over.

Children International, an international nonprofit humanitarian organization which runs a sponsorship program uniting children and sponsors, has gone live with Aptify CRM on an enterprise-wide basis. Aptify, a vendor of customer and member relationship management, e-Business, education management and other applications, will enable CI to provide what CI officials hope will be "responsive and personalized service for its sponsors, donors, and field offices worldwide."

Established in 1936, Children International aids needy children in 11 countries including Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States and Zambia. Sponsors' contributions help provide poverty-stricken children and families with necessities such as health and dental care, educational assistance, decent clothing and nutritional assistance.

CI officials say their operational goal was to "select a product that would unify its departments under one data source to provide a more streamlined process in responding to sponsors and donors," one that could address their unique system requirements for one-to-one child sponsorship.

Basically, the charity will use the technology to track marketing campaigns for sponsorships and donations, provide a robust reporting tool set and employ fundraising management to handle donations and in-kind gifts.

"Aptify's out-of-the-box standard processes supported 70 percent of our unique needs," says Barry Sanders, CI's IT director who seems to have found a rewarding career after football (rimshot). Additionally, CI has fulfilled the rest of their requirements by using Aptify's flexible configuration tools.

Future plans for Children International include incorporation of the Aptify e-Business suite into the website to enhance its online capabilities for its current sponsors and contributors.

Aptify, headquartered in Washington, D.C. has been recognized twice by the Inc 500 as one of the fastest-growing privately held companies headquartered in the United States.

Stop the presses, CRM systems starting to deliver real benefits at last.

The proportion of companies who describe their CRM applications as "very successful" has more than doubled in the past 12 months, according to the latest survey from the British consultancy PMP Research. Their positive experiences are encouraging other organizations to review their implementations in the hopes of achieving additional benefits. The research has been commissioned by the Evaluation Centre.

"For the past two years, PMP's annual survey on CRM has found only a very small number of satisfied customers (4%)," PMP officials say. First Coffee presumes this means that only four percent of CRM customers were satisfied with their CRM systems, not with PMP's survey. Where have all the copy editors gone? Long time passing.

But this year, the proportion who state that their CRM applications have been "very successful" in delivering all the benefits anticipated has leapt up to 14%. Release the doves, Krug all around.

A further 39% label their CRM efforts as "successful" and say that the business has seen some, if not all, the benefits expected. "Put together," PMP officials point out, "this means that half of this year's sample (53%) reckons to be seeing real improvements as a result of implementing CRM applications."

It's a general rule of thumb that about half of CRM implementations fail. But companies are nothing if not dogged: Two-thirds (66%) told PMP that they are currently making changes and additions to their implementations in order to get more of the benefits they originally sought, or say they have plans to do so shortly. Just 11% have ruled out further improvements completely. Six have jumped off the window ledge and are unavailable for further comment.

Respondents were asked to rate their motivations for adopting CRM technology on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 for "very important" and 1 is for "couldn't care less." The aggregated results show that the two most common drivers for introducing CRM systems are "desire to improve customer satisfaction levels" at 3.96 and "requirement to improve customer lifetime value," 3.70.

Presumably "desire to get off this stupid committee and kick it over to IT" wasn't an option. But "attracting new customers" came in at the bottom of the list of desirable outcomes, 2.84. The East German judge gave it a 5.

The study also found that "the company website (91%), e-mail (87%) and web forms (64%) are all now common methods of online customer communication," according to PMP officials. Again, the wording leaves us to idly speculate what other forms of "online customer communication" are available, if one does not use the website, e-mail or web forms. The telephone was the unchallenged king of interaction at 96%, and fax came in at 85%.

Maybe expectations for CRM simply aren't all that high anymore. PMP found that the biggest proportion -- 47% -- of companies they surveyed estimate they have invested "less than £250,000" on CRM over the past three years.

Technalign, Inc. has announced they are partnering with InsynQ's Appgen Business Software group to provide Appgen's MyBooks Professional and Custom Suite accounting software products to partners and customers via the Technalign Partner/Distributor distribution network.

Technalign will deliver Appgen applications through their partner network, starting with a single user small business accounting application priced at only $59.00, and an Executive Dashboard reporting module for only $295.00.

The second phase of the partnership will involve interfacing MyBooks Professional with Technalign's HiAtlantis CRM, a product scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2007.

"MyBooks Professional and the other Appgen applications fill a large gap we've experienced with our customers and partners alike -- to get accounting software on the Linux Desktops and Servers," says Technalign CEO Dianne Ursini. "Many companies have been hesitant in the past to move from Windows to Linux in the SOHO and SMB markets, given the inability to run their accounting department software completely on Linux."

HiAtlantis currently "interfaces to accounting software using a spreadsheet file to import to legacy accounting applications," according to company officials.

The Appgen applications will be available with Technalign's Frontier, on the distribution CDs; version XI customers may download the TAFusion MEPIS package of MyBooks.

Hey Tim Henman, nobody expects you to be the next Brit to win Wimbledon any more, we're waiting for Andrew Murray, but certainly you could put up more of a fight than 6-4, 6-0, 6-2? Yeah okay, it's Roger Federer, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but even he doesn't routinely win 6-0 sets in majors. It's one thing to lose honorably to a demonstrably better opponent, it's another to roll over and stick your paws in the air in front of the home crowd.

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