123Together and Microsoft CRM, PacificNet and Jai Alai, Cognos Q3, Finnish BPO

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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123Together and Microsoft CRM, PacificNet and Jai Alai, Cognos Q3, Finnish BPO

By David Sims
david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Elton John's "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock 'n' Roll):"

123Together.com, a vendor of Hosted Microsoft Exchange, Sharepoint and CRM services, is now offering a free license of the new Microsoft Outlook 2007 e-mail client to every user of their Exchange Hosting service.

Outlook 2007 is the latest release of Microsoft's E-mail client. The latest version adds new features, including greater integration with Exchange Server, deeper integration with Sharepoint and CRM, all of which are provided as hosted services by 123Together.com as well as improvements in calendaring, collaboration and information management.

One nice thing they've finally done, which First Coffee has been wanting for years, is giving Outlook advanced searching capabilities. Given the amount of information residing in Outlook mailboxes today, it's about time they gave us an Instant Search tool to search by keyword through the information residing in Outlook 2007 as well as for those keywords within e-mail attachments.

Also users can now read and manage Really Simple Syndication feeds and blogs right from within Outlook 2007. Unfortunately this increase in information also brings with it increased complexity and data storage requirements. 123Together.com has pounced on this need to pitch Microsoft Exchange Hosting services, which IT departments can use to offload these back end infrastructure issues to 123Together.com's Exchange staff, who allow users to manage mailboxes which can be as large as 10 gigabytes.

They've also decided to allow greater integration with mobile devices -- Outlook Mobile Service has the ability to send and receive text and picture messages between Outlook 2007 and any mobile phone. OMS also enables users to forward Outlook e-mail, contacts, appointments, and tasks to themselves or other people as text messages.


PacificNet Inc., a provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which seems to be having more fun in the gambling business than CRM these days (as if that's such a huge leap), has reported that its PacificNet Games Limited subsidiary has been selected by Jai Alai Casino, a casino in Macau, to provide multi-player electronic gambling machines.

Phase one implementation includes 40 multi-player electronic gambling machines. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed for competitive reasons.

Located at Jai Alai Building, Avenida de Amizade, Macau, in Communist China, Jai Alai Casino Macau has 67,075 square feet of gambling with about 250 slot machines, 61 table games and 4 VIP rooms, and is open 24 hours a day. And if jai alai, baccarat, blackjack and roulette aren't your cup of green tea you can lose money on more traditional Chinese gambling such as Fish-Prawn-Crab, Sic-Bo Cussec and Fan Tan.

Two weeks ago, PacificNet announced that its PacificNet Games Limited (PacGames) subsidiary was selected by Casino Lisboa to provide 120 multi-player Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) for Phase One implementation at Casino Lisboa. Previously, PacGames also announced that it was selected by Holiday Inn Macau Casino to provide multi-player electronic gambling machines.

Victor Tong, President of PacificNet, notes that Macau has become the fastest growing part of China and "we are very excited to be moving forward in our pursuit of the Macau gaming technology business. We believe the Asian gaming market has huge growth potential and that we are well positioned to win more hotel-casino clients and capture a growing market share as a leading gaming technology provider in the region."

The numbers bear him out: According to recent statistics provided by the Macau government, Macau is one of the fastest-growing gambling markets in the world and is predicted to surpass Las Vegas in total revenues by 2007. In 2005, Macau's gambling revenues reached $5.8 billion, second only to Las Vegas gambling revenues of $6 billion.

With the disposable income of the average Chinese on the rise Macau, the only area in China where gambling is legal, expects its gambling and entertainment market to grow for years to come.

One wishes the same could be said of China's CRM market with equal confidence.


Cognos Incorporated, a vendor of business intelligence (BI) and performance management products, last week announced financial results for its third quarter of fiscal year 2007, ended November 30, 2006.
   
Revenue for the third quarter was $247.8 million, compared with $212.3 million for the same period last fiscal year, an increase of 17 percent. License revenue was $94.0 million, compared with $75.5 million in the third quarter of last fiscal year, an increase of 24 percent.
   
Net income in the quarter on a U.S. GAAP basis was $16.5 million or $0.18 per diluted share, compared with $24.0 million or $0.26 per diluted share for the same period last fiscal year.  Net income in the quarter on a non-GAAP basis (excluding amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, stock-based compensation expense and restructuring charges) was $43.1 million or $0.48 per diluted share, compared with $29.5 million or $0.32 per diluted share for the same period last fiscal year.
   
Revenue for the first nine months of fiscal year 2007, ended November 30, 2006, was $694.7 million, compared with $624.4 million for the same period last fiscal year, an increase of 11 percent.  License revenue for the nine-month period was $245.7 million, compared with $225.3 million for the same period last fiscal year, an increase of 9 percent. 

Net income on a U.S. GAAP basis in the nine-month period was $54.8 million or $0.61 per diluted share, compared with $69.3 million or $0.74 per diluted share for the same period last fiscal year.  Net income for the nine-month period on a non-GAAP basis (excluding amortization of acquisition-related intangible assets, stock-based compensation expense and restructuring charges) was $93.0 million or $1.03 per share, compared with $84.4 million or $0.91 per diluted share for the same period last fiscal year.

Cognos' balance sheet, according to company officials, "remains strong. Third quarter operating cash flow was $23.5 million."  As a result, the company exited the quarter with $599.3 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. 

Officials also pointed to 24 percent license revenue growth in the third quarter, driven by strong Cognos 8 performance; 11 contracts greater than $1 million in the third quarter, which they characterized as "reflecting continued strong large deal performance," pointing specifically to the fact that IBM selected Cognos 8 Workforce Performance for its Human Resources Business Transformation Outsourcing Workforce Analytics, "the second multi-million dollar contract for this product."


The total market for BPO services in Finland is $362 million, according to a new IDC study. This is expected to increase to $642 million by 2010. Customer care accounts for the biggest portion of the total, the analyst firm found, followed by the industry-specific sector.

While the outsourcing of human resources and finance and accounting are approximately the same size, the smallest share is held by procurement, a sector that is expected to account for the highest growth until 2010.

"Today's business processes such as payroll and finance face increasing technical complexity as they are connected to corporate ERPs. This, combined with increasing demand for secured delivery, is currently pushing companies toward greater use of BPO vendors," said Staffan Söderman, research analyst at IDC.

The Finnish BPO market consists of three types of players: consulting companies, with a background in IT or accounting services; niche players from the payroll services industry and customer care/call center companies.

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