Microsoft CRM For Spy, Aspect's VoiceXML Cert, Godbole Quits Ubics, Inter-Tel Uninterested

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David Sims
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Microsoft CRM For Spy, Aspect's VoiceXML Cert, Godbole Quits Ubics, Inter-Tel Uninterested

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is… lessee, we don't have any music playing right now, let's fix that… turn on iTunes, go to Purchased, punch Shuffle, Play… the first song to come up is… "Can't You See" by The Marshall Tucker Band.

Microsoft has announced that Spy Optic Inc., a Carlsbad, California-based designer and manufacturer of eyewear and accessories, has selected Microsoft Dynamics GP for its new, overall enterprise resource planning and Microsoft Dynamics CRM to manage its customer and vendor relations.

The company, which has 125 employees, will use the technology to "streamline interactions with its European headquarters in Lombardo, Italy," according to Spy officials. Spy Optic distributes to more than 5,000 retail locations in the U.S., with plans to expand to markets in Australia and Europe.

The combination of a recent public offering and the welcoming of a new chief information officer evidently convinced Spy Optic that it was a good time to rejig their production, inventory, sales and customer data management, all of which were distributed throughout various nonintegrated IT systems.

"We expect the adoption… to be a day-and-night change for this company," said Erik Quade, CIO for Spy Optic. "Our goal is growth. From increasing the effectiveness of our sales and customer relations efforts to drastically improving order fulfillment and business analytics on the back end."

The company will use Microsoft Dynamics GP to move to a paperless model, which it projects may reduce order processing and SKU setup time by up to 50 percent. In addition, the company anticipates that new credit card automation functionality may potentially save up to 30 labor hours per month by reducing data entry of cash receipts by approximately 30 percent.

Spy Optic will also leverage the new product in its warehouse facility, where integration with handheld scanning technology may increase inventory management and distribution time proficiency as much as 90 percent.

Spy Optic chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM for its customer and vendor relationship management functionality, Microsoft officials say, as well as the way in which it feels for employees already familiar with Microsoft Office Outlook and other programs.

Wanna see the worst music video ever made?

Current random play: "What I Really Mean" by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.

Aspect Software, Inc., which likes to call itself "the world's largest company solely focused on the contact center," has announced that the Aspect Customer Self Service 7.2 voice portal, which will be generally available Aug. 28, about the same time the new Bob Dylan album Modern Times will be released, has been awarded VoiceXML-Forum certification.

Wonder if Bob knows that Al Stewart released an album named Modern Times in 1975? Oh well, at least he's not ripping off the memoirs of Japanese gangsters with this one.

The new standards-based VoiceXML 2.1-enabled, software-only SIP or TDM product provides all the benefits of traditional IVR and state-of-the-art voice portals and integrates easily with contact center products from Aspect and other vendors. It offers what company officials claim to be "full CTI support for both TDM and IP environments and an optional VoiceXML Studio module that can dramatically shorten the design and coding time needed to create VoiceXML-based speech and touchtone applications."

These enhancements are supposed to be able to reduce development and voice-over-IP implementation costs while "increasing scalability and customer satisfaction with voice self-service automation."

There's a critical need for a customer-friendly product in the automated voice self-service arena, which has become increasingly stigmatized by negative public perception. A maze of complicated menus and the inability to transfer to an agent easily can frustrate customers.

Well-designed voice user interfaces can reduce call time as much as 30 percent, significantly cut opt-out rates and enable a smooth call transfer to an agent that doesn't require the customer to repeat information that he's already provided to an automated system.

Aspect Customer Self Service 7.2 is described by company officials as "a fully functional voice self-service portal" using non-proprietary off-the-shelf, industry-standard hardware and supporting VoiceXML 2.0 and 2.1. Companies using the system can eliminate the need for telephony cards and give their customers access to assisted service as needed.

Current random play: "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" by Traffic.

CRM vendor Ubics, Inc. has announced that Girish G. Godbole has submitted his resignation as the company's President - Global Services, effective October 31, 2006. So, it's not exactly like he's being bum-rushed out the door or anything.

Godbole has also resigned from the company's board of directors. He continue in his position as President - Global Services until the end of July 2006, and thereafter has been providing the company with transition services as needed through October 31, 2006, according to Ubics officials.

Sunil Patil, the company's President - Global Solutions, will take over as President - Global Services.

Founded in 1993, Ubics is an affiliate of the UB Company, a $2 billion multinational group of companies headquartered in India. Ubics, with business operations in the United States, United Kingdom and India. The company is headquartered in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Current random play: "Stray Cat Blues" by The Rolling Stones.

Inter-Tel Inc. has announced that a Special Committee of its Board of Directors, has rejected as inadequate an unsolicited acquisition proposal from Steven G. Mihaylo and Vector Capital (the "Mihaylo Group") to purchase all shares of Inter-Tel, other than those held by Mihaylo, for cash at a price of $22.50 per share.

The Special Committee concluded that the Mihaylo Group's proposal does not reflect the intrinsic value of Inter-Tel and its advanced technology and consequently fails to provide appropriate value to all Inter-Tel shareholders, company officials said.

Among reasons cited for rejecting Mihaylo's bid were the recent enhancement of Inter-Tel's call center applications to include multi-media contact center functionality, and enhancements to the company's presence management and multi-media collaboration applications.

The Special Committee believes that "the continued execution of management's current long-term strategy," including the rollout of the Inter-Tel 5600 and version 2.0 software for the Inter-Tel 5000 family, the forthcoming introduction of the 7000 communications systems, and enhancements to Inter-Tel's portfolio of advanced software applications represents "a superior alternative for enhancing shareholder value."

The company's also seen "early indications of success" with the new Lake products designed for the small office / home office market.

The Special Committee has authorized UBS Investment Bank, the Company's financial advisor, to review and explore various strategic options for the company. In other words, it still might very well be sold to someone.

Current random play: "Play In the Sunshine" by Prince.

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