CRM Sale From Soffront, Autobytel Recognized, Connextions Topped Up, AppGate

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David Sims
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CRM Sale From Soffront, Autobytel Recognized, Connextions Topped Up, AppGate

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning and the music is Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover:"

CRM vendor Soffront Software Inc. has announced that Operon Biotechnologies, Inc., has selected Soffront CRM for their customer service, marketing, sales, and IT support desk.

Operon Biotechnologies is a global leader in custom oligo nucleic acid synthesis (manufactured using DNA and RNA building blocks.) Their products are used by researchers in the Life Sciences industries.

Soffront CRM will provide Operon with a complete CRM and order processing solution. Operon's marketing, sales, and customer service departments will use the software for numerous global activities such as accessing comprehensive customer history records, integrating reports, exploring data mining possibilities, and implementing sales and marketing campaigns.

This spring Soffront, a vendor specializing in the mid-market CRM field, announced that Worldlink Integration Group, Inc. picked on-demand Soffront CRM to "improve productivity and data integration," according to Soffront officials.

"We wanted to improve productivity in all aspects of our business and integrate all customer, prospect, and project data into one system," said David R. Clarke, president and CFO of Worldlink Integration Group. "We also wanted to increase our customer's ability to securely communicate with us and access collateral material through the web."

And in March Soffront announced Soffront Unlimited, an offering that packages all of Soffront's modules into a single product. Soffront Unlimited provides enterprise users with Soffront CRM for one low monthly cost, $95 per user in a hosted, ASP environment.

The Unlimited product includes sales force automation, marketing automation, campaign management, sales order processing, customer support, helpdesk, asset management, defect tracking, project and release management, knowledge management, customer, partner, and employee portals.

Beat Stemmler, Manager IT CRM/ERP at Operon who wins First Coffee's Name Of The Week Award, said that after screening approximately ten CRM packages and "implementing a detailed evaluation on our top five choices, we selected Soffront," because the product "fulfilled all of our requirements better than any other."

Operon purchased numerous modules of the Soffront CRM product suite, including customer service, customer portal, marketing automation, direct mail campaign, sales force automation, employee help desk, and defect tracking.

The reason being… "We expect a positive impact on our churn rate, new customer growth rate, and total customer satisfaction. In addition the management and top management will get a tremendously improved system for analysis and decision making," Stemmler said.

Operon Biotechnologies, Inc. is a global supplier of custom nucleic acids for academic research, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical development. Through their production facilities in the US, Germany, and Japan as well as distributors worldwide, Operon provides scientists with standard or highly modified DNA and RNA molecules in both small and large scale amounts to satisfy their oligo requirements.

So if you need your oligo satisfied you know where to go now, don'tcha?

Autobytel Inc., an automotive CRM vendor, has been named to Deloitte and Touche's Technology Fast 50 Program for Orange County, a ranking of technology, media, telecommunications and life sciences companies in the area by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP.

"This marks the eighth consecutive year that Autobytel has been named to the Technology Fast 50, which is a great honor," said Autobytel Inc. President and CEO Jim Riesenbach.

To qualify for the Technology Fast 50, companies must have had operating revenues of at least $50,000 in 2001 and $5 million in 2005, be headquartered in North America, and be a company that owns proprietary technology or proprietary intellectual property that contributes to a significant portion of the company's operating revenues; or devotes a significant proportion of revenues to the research and development of technology.

Rankings are based on the percentage revenue growth over five years from 2001–2005.

In 1995 Autobytel was one of the first companies to sell CRM to auto dealers, which is still kind of an ugly stepchild in CRM, it's not an area that's been looked at by established vendors yet. Autobytel sells its Web Control customer management system, Retention Performance Marketing service reminder program, Special Finance Leads, and AIC data center to auto dealers. Ugly red checked sports jacket optional.

Connextions, Inc. has announced that New Mountain Partners II, L.P., a private equity fund sponsored and managed by New Mountain Capital, LLC, has made a significant equity investment in the company.

Connextions sells business technology for such companies as Federal Express, Mercedes-Benz and UnitedHealth Group. Through its Connextions Health operations, the company sells Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products targeting the Consumer Driven Healthcare movement in the United States.

Announcing the investment, New Mountain's Founder & CEO Steven Klinsky said, "In addition to its scalable business solutions and strong position within the healthcare industry, we are impressed with the excellent and longstanding client relationships Connextions has established."

Klinsky noted that there are no plans to change Connextions' market strategy, operations, or staffing levels as a result of New Mountain's investment. Connextions' Founder, Chairman & CEO Jack LeFort will remain in his current capacity, and he will be joined on the board of directors by Steven Klinsky, Michael Ajouz and Doug Londal, all members of New Mountain.

Next month AppGate Network Security, a vendor of network security products, will make available for commercial use a product to "make it possible to integrate all types of access: mobile, PC, PDA," in one single product, "without having to accept reduced security or functionality," according to company officials.

The user will get exactly the access they need when they need it -- "no more and no less," as company officials say. This means one user, running the required AV software on their mobile device, can access SAP and their CRM system while someone else might be restricted to downloading e-mail and synchronizing their calendar to their mobile phone.

To that end AppGate has announced Mobile VPN support for Nokia Series 60 3rd edition mobile phones including the E61 and E70.

The global "smartphone" market is experiencing rapid growth and users increasingly want to move beyond the limitations of only having access to push e-mails on their mobile phones, company officials think: "Access to Intranet and other applications such as SAP and other reporting tools are becoming more and more important."

The AppGate product lets users of mobile devices such as mobile phones access all resources inside an enterprise's internal network, not only e-mail. It supports authentication from suppliers such as RSA, Cryptocard, NordicEdge, Mideye as well as other Radius and/or LDAP/AD based systems.

According to AppGate's CEO Göran Marby, "With this new development for the Series 60 platform, users of a wide range of S60-based devices, including phones from Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung and Siemens, can now benefit from AppGate's functionality."

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