CRM Deals From Kintera and Talisma, Tectura, EIS, Microsoft's CRM As Seen By Gianforte

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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CRM Deals From Kintera and Talisma, Tectura, EIS, Microsoft's CRM As Seen By Gianforte

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Charlie Parker: The Gold Collection:

Kintera Inc., a CRM vendor specializing in selling products to nonprofit organizations, has announced that La Leche League International has selected Kintera's social constituent relationship management (yet another variation on the CRM theme) system for its core member and donor management needs.

La Leche League International is a multinational organization that helps mothers worldwide breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information and education.

First Coffee thinks this is just amazing -- something ignorant peasant women have known how to do instinctually for thousands of years, modern, educated women need to form organizations and produce literature to know how to do. Reminds me of Bill Cosby's joke about parents going to birth classes, how the class was all these intellectuals going to learn to do something people have always known how to do for millennia.

Anyway, Kintera and ooTao Inc., a vendor of identity and data interoperability infrastructure development products, have signed an agreement to jointly integrate La Leche League International's open source authentication and data sharing standards with Kintera's social CRM platform, Kintera Sphere, enabling data to be shared between Kintera Sphere and other systems used by La Leche League International.

The project will provide distributed open source authentication and data interoperability, including what Kintera officials describe as "single sign-on capabilities for members to access information across multiple systems using one login."

"The Kintera Sphere social CRM system provides our organization with a single, interactive system to manage relationships with both donors and members," said Barbara Emanuel, Interim Executive Director for La Leche League International, saying the system "provides a total view of a constituent's relationship with La Leche League International."

Talisma Corporation, a vendor enterprise Customer Interaction Management (CIM), has announced the release of Talisma Answer, a Talisma e-mail add-on that uses IBM technology to automate the creation and delivery of e-mail responses. Talisma Answer's release coincides with Talisma being named a Recognized Innovator by the Service & Support Professionals Association, an association for technology services and support professionals. 

"Many areas of customer service and CRM technology are beginning to mature, but only a select number of vendors continue to deliver pure innovative products and services," said John Ragsdale, Vice President of Research, SSPA. 

Talisma Answer relies on natural language technology to understand the intent of a customer's e-mail, company officials say. Talisma E-mail can then provide an automated response or suggest a response to an agent. Talisma Answer uses IBM's Classification Module for OmniFind Discovery Edition to represent words and text passages as "context vectors" to automatically group data into similarly themed clusters for improved response precision and relevance. 

The learning algorithm is designed to adjust context vectors so that words used in a similar context will have vectors that point in similar directions.  Talisma Answer learns the meaning of content based on contextual usage and then organizes the content for immediate processing and retrieval.

"Gone are the days when customers are willing to wait more than 24 hours to get a response to an e-mail inquiry," said Dan Vetras, President & CEO, Talisma.

Tectura, a vendor of Microsoft business products to mid-market companies and larger enterprises, has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Euroinfo Systems, an Indian Microsoft Dynamics partner and international IT services provider.

Oh great, it looks like we have another Indian PC Name Alert™ on the horizon. Calcutta and Bombay are now "Kolkota" and "Mumbai," Madras is "Chennai" and now it looks like "New Delhi" has been redubbed "Noida," an unusually ugly mud stick of a name for a city:

"With a Development Center of Excellence in New Delhi (Noida), India, EIS provides enterprise IT solutions and services in support of offshore and onsite development," the company says. Why don't we just change the name "India" to whatever it was too, before the Indus river was so named. Or better yet, why doesn't everyone adopt the Finnish practice of having two names for everything, one the locals use -- "Suomi," e.g. -- and one for foreigners -- "Finland."

EIS was attractive to Tectura because of its large team of Microsoft Dynamics professionals specializing in Microsoft Dynamics AX and Microsoft Dynamics NAV implementation services for the Indian market as well as for global offshoring. EIS also offers Microsoft Dynamics CRM expertise as well as integration services with Microsoft SQL Reporting Services, Analytics, SharePoint, and .NET.

Terry Petrzelka, CEO of Tectura, said expanded Microsoft integration services, along with offshoring and outsourcing are "emerging as high-growth opportunities based upon strong client demand." He described the company's strategy as "servicing clients close to their local operations while maintaining strong global capabilities."

The acquisition will give EIS a combined team of 200-plus members focused on Microsoft Dynamics and offshore development services out of three centers in Noida, Bangalore, and Mumbai.

Okay, and I guess we can all start calling Bangalore "Bengalooru" as well. Heck, why stop there? Let's call it by its original name, Benda Kaluru, "city of cooked beans." At least that's not as hideous a nameoid as "Noida." I mean fine, it's their own country, they can name their cities whatever they want, I just wonder what's really gained. Are they trying to pretend the British were never there and they just modernized on their own?

I'd asked Greg Gianforte, CEO of RightNow Technologies, what he thought of Microsoft's latest CRM efforts, here's what he said:

I'm happy to provide my thoughts on Microsoft's recent news; however, it doesn't look like they've really announced anything "new." Microsoft seems to have made some incremental tweaks to their CRM solution to ensure it will work on the Vista platform.

As for the value their CRM will bring, I applaud their efforts but Microsoft is still playing catch up here… Microsoft Dynamics CRM does not address the customer experience challenge; it simply has a few more bells and whistles and a new pricing model.

Plus, Microsoft has missed the tectonic shift that occurred when business began to see the value of procuring their software as a service. Back in July they announced a "roadmap" for delivering Microsoft CRM Live and in this week's announcement it doesn't even merit a mention.

On-demand is beginning to eclipse client/server because customers are sick of long deployment cycles and complicated expensive infrastructure… in fact, during Q3 fully 2/3rds of our revenue came from companies with more that $1 billion in revenue and large government organizations.

Microsoft is conflicted because for them to truly embrace SaaS as the future delivery model for business applications they must cannibalize their core IT infrastructure business of operating systems and databases. Plus they have to develop selling capabilities and sell to business units, with whom they have never had to sell to before, rather than IT organizations. These are not small business challenges.

You can not write them off, but I believe their CRM offerings will be limited to fairly commoditized CRM components like basic SFA rather than more complex and mission critical processes like customer experience.

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