By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Charles Mingus's Mingus Ah Um:
Hey, I know I feel better after a successful North Korean nuclear test. Thanks to years of China's enabling and protection one of the craziest and cruelest dictators in the world now probably has nukes.
Don't you just love how well the U.N. works to protect us from this sort of thing? As well as it works to protect citizens in Darfur. Nice of France and the rest of the useless E.U. to push for balance by letting Iran go nuclear too, that'll keep the world safer.
First Coffee can't help but think how well all that wasted real estate in Turtle Bay would serve as a toxic waste dump. It would smell a lot cleaner, for one thing.
Always nice to see a new company in coverage: Relenta CRM has announced the general availability of its customer relationship management (CRM) that makes it easy for sales, marketing, and client-service teams to manage email, customers, and activities.
Relenta CRM, according to company officials, "turns familiar software product categories upside down by integrating the functionality of business-class e-mail, contact management, calendar, email newsletter marketing into one elegant Web 2.0 application." Hey it's their debut on First Coffee, we'll let them do a bit of flowery press releasey-talk.
Relenta CRM calls itself a "simple, lightweight, and robust alternative to bloated software," focused on "usability and overall user experience, rather than sheer number of fancy features and cluttered interfaces."
It's the old 90-10 rule, or 80-20 rule, however generous you wish to be: Relenta CRM, officials say, "achieves 90 percent of the functionality commonly required by small business users with only ten percent of the application weight."
Here's what the company considers some of the key features of their CRM product:
"Business-class" e-mail: Send, receive, merge, and archive email; associate e-mail communication history with each contact. As opposed to those, you know, economy class e-mail packages.
Contact management: Organize and manage customers and leads; distribute workload; share activities.
Shared calendar: Keep track of business activities; coordinate schedules with team members.
E-mail newsletter marketing: Send out personalized e-mail blasts and sequential autoresponders; manage subscriber lists. Just no spamming, okay?
You can tell the product's pitched to the SMB market: its pricing varies from "permanently free to custom paying plans, depending on usage," according to company officials: The free accounts are for one user with no time limit, month-to-month goes $50 per user per month and pre-paid costs $1,000 per year for 5 users.
It's a hosted web-based application, as SMBs are usually allergic to software installations, there is no software to install or system requirements to worry about. All you need is a modern web browser and Internet connection.
And for the really S of the SMBs, Relenta claims that "due to its efficient standards-based CSS and XHTML interface design, Relenta CRM runs fast even on dial up." No word on how well it works with carrier pigeon.
CRM does get verticalized, doesn't it? Now Britain gets CRM for home builders, thanks to Pivotal Corporation, a division of CDC Software, a subsidiary of CDC Corporation, which will launch its CRM for Homebuilders in the U.K. at this years' Housebuilding 2006 event at the Business Design Center, London, October 10 – 11.
Pivotal CRM for Homebuilders is bringing its relationship management application software to the U.K. market in October 2006.
Already supplying relationship management software to homebuilders in North America, company officials are "delighted" to introduce Pivotal CRM to the U.K. homebuilder market," said Mark Carlile, U.K. managing director, CDC Software: "We want to work with U.K. home builders to help them gain the business benefits and competitive edge already being achieved by leading homebuilders in North America."
Carlile says that better knowledge of customers and potential customers helps home builders run better, more targeted marketing campaigns, and automating the sales process "improves qualification rates and timescales, identifies up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and increase the overall efficiency and productivity of the sales team."
Voted IT Product of the Year and Best Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Automation product at the International Builder's Show 2006 in Florida, Pivotal CRM claims to be used by, oh, lots of big home building firms around America, like Beazer Homes, Centex Homes and Wayne Homes.
More activity on AppExchange: Copan Systems, Inc. has deployed WebSource CPQ via the salesforce.com AppExchange, officials from both companies have announced.
Webcom, Inc. sells simplified quote-to-order enablement for the selling of complex products and services.
The Webcom product is being pitched as bridging the gap from opportunity to order. It allows Copan Systems to configure, price, quote and propose their offerings across multiple sales and distribution channels, anytime, anywhere, Webcom officials say.
FTS, a vendor of Business Control, Billing and CRM products for Communications Service Providers, has announced the appointment of Alon Raz as its Chief Financial Officer.
Mr. Raz joins FTS after serving three years as Chief Financial and Operational Officer at Team Computers and Systems Ltd., one of Israel's largest IT groups. At Team, he led the acquisition of Malam, a deal which propelled Team into becoming Israel's second largest IT group.
Prior to Team, Raz was Vice President and CFO for four years at Visson Enterprises Ltd., a high-tech company which developed a revolutionary, flexible textile information display technology. At Visson Enterprises, he closed a number of financial funding rounds. One of the major investors, the Netherlands' Philips BV, came onboard with the company following successful negotiations with Raz.
Raz holds a BA degree in Economics and Accounting, an MA degree in Economics & Business Administration (Finance) and an MBA from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
CRM provider ShareMethods has announced that it upgraded its operations into a SAS 70 Type II data center provided by AppSite Hosting, a division of Vericenter.
The ShareMethods service is hosted at Appsite’s datacenter, to "boost redundancy and scale more easily when adding customers," according to company officials.
ShareMethods sells an on-demand sales and marketing library to manage, share, and distribute materials such as proposals, marketing collateral, customer agreements, and partner documents on a global basis.
ShareMethods officials say it "combines advanced document management, collaboration, and CRM integration," specifically the "Sales and Marketing Portal in a Box" approach which "can cost less than one tenth of the price of traditional enterprise software."
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