CRM Vendor Business Objects and Rent-A-Center, Dick Lee and Long-Term CRM, Zebra RFID, Amdocs Forecast, Selling To Win

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David Sims
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CRM Vendor Business Objects and Rent-A-Center, Dick Lee and Long-Term CRM, Zebra RFID, Amdocs Forecast, Selling To Win

By David Sims
david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Beatles' Revolver:

CRM customer analytics vendor Business Objects would like to you know that Rent-A-Center, a rent-to-own operator in the U.S., has been using its business intelligence and enterprise performance management products to "manage its significant expansion rate due to organic growth and major acquisitions."

"As we continue to grow, the amount of data we collect has expanded significantly," said Tony Fuller, CIO of Rent-A-Center, adding that Business Objects has helped his company "consolidate, process, and analyze data from several disparate sources to gain insight into our customers and our merchandising efforts, among other things."

Through analysis of inventory turn and promotion performance data, Fuller says, his merchandise managers can "more easily make adjustments to our up-sell, cross-sell, and pricing strategies to help improve store performance."

The recent Business Objects XI release 2 has been billed as providing retailers with the most advanced and complete solution for performance management, planning, reporting, query and analysis, and enterprise information management. The company was recently ranked as one of the top ten software vendors in the retail industry, based on a survey of senior retail executives conducted by RIS News, BO officials say.

According to a recent George Washington University School of Business Research Report, the "fundamental dilemma" facing companies trying to use CRM to increase their long-term competitive edge is "finding out which CRM approaches have the greatest positive impact and result in building long-term customer value and thus financial impact."

VendorGuru.com has interviewed noted CRM expert Dick Lee, vice president of a consulting firm that specializes in designing and developing customer-centric business strategies and author of Strategic CRM: The Complete Implementation Manual, about just that topic. Lee stresses two important steps to successful implementation of CRM software: developing customer-centric strategies and finding the technology that fully supports them.

Note the order. First, the strategy. Second, the fancy, shiny techie toys.

The message is clear, as far as Lee's concerned: companies that do not develop and maintain value-based relationships with their customers are gambling with the future of their business. Companies like "Nordstrom have been customer-centric forever… Southwest Airlines and Toyota caught on years ago, and young companies like Amazon.com and Google got it right from the start."

CRM, when implemented well, can help a company "better understand and adapt its marketing and business processing to its customers' preferences," and this creates an "enduring personal business relationship" according to the GWU study.

This is a long-held truth. A 2004 survey conducted by the American Society for Quality also found that "competitive advantage rests with those organizations that successfully provide customer value through the most efficient use of technology and people," adding that customer value translates directly to "increased revenue through repeat business, referrals, and customer loyalty."

Said Tara Moynihan, spokesperson for VendorGuru.com, "Companies that are not looking closely at developing essential connectivity with their customers, aren't going to be around in tomorrow's competitive marketplace."

Billing and CRM vendor Amdocs Ltd. has "lowered its forecast for 2007 after discovering that the transformation and convergence projects planned by the major service providers are not proceeding that the pace it expected," according to industry journal CBR.

The St Louis, Missouri, company is now predicting that revenue this year will be in the range of $2.83 billion to $2.91 billion, a rise of at least 14 percent, CBR says, but below the November estimates of $2.89 billion to $2.97 billion.

CBR reported CEO Dov Baharav saying the $375 million acquisition in July of telecom operations support services software vendor Cramer Systems Group had "strengthened it strategically" and was "consistently contributing new wins."

Amdocs is standing by the forecast that first quarter revenue will show a 17.5 percent rise to $690 million with earnings per share before exceptional items of $0.50.

Looking for more CRM reading? Selling to Win by Richard Denny is a new one out now, available at business to business online vendor CRMToday.com. It's billed as being able to "help companies develop a successful CRM strategy."

The book highlights the changes necessary to sell and win more business in an increasingly competitive environment, according to the promotional materials. The book, written by Denny, who bills himself as a U.K. management expert, offers tips to help create a CRM strategy that will "turn customers into ambassadors, beat the competition, and close a sale," if Denny does say so himself.

Denny's book also suggests ways to get sales even if your service costs more than what competitors offer.

"CRM is a business approach that integrates people, processes and technology to maximize the relations of an organization with all types of customers. The true value of CRM is to transform strategy, operational processes and business functions in order to retain customers and increase customer loyalty and profitability," writes Aris Pantazopoulos, managing director and founder of CRMToday.com.

The site features reviews and lets visitors purchase books. Visitors to the books section can also use the "Suggest a Book" feature to recommend customer relationship management books that they'd like to see highlighted.

Zebra Technologies Corporation has announced that it has agreed to acquire all of the shares of WhereNet Corp., a vendor of active radio frequency identification (RFID) based wireless solutions to track and manage enterprise assets, for $126 million in cash.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of January and is subject to WhereNet shareholder approval and expiration of the H-S-R waiting period on January 13, 2007. Zebra has voting agreements from WhereNet shareholders representing more than 85 percent of the voting stock to vote in favor of the transaction.

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, WhereNet provides integrated wireless Real Time Locating Systems to companies primarily in the industrial manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and aerospace and defense sectors. Founded in 1997, it has more than 150 installations currently in operation helping companies locate and track assets with wireless tags, fixed-position antennas and Web-enabled software.

"WhereNet adds another high-growth platform to Zebra's business," stated Edward Kaplan, Zebra's chairman and chief executive officer. "Active RFID is a natural complement to passive RFID and barcoding, two key Zebra strengths, as it enhances our ability to deliver business improvement to customers worldwide."

"Combining with Zebra gives WhereNet the resources to expand its global footprint and become the definitive leader in our industry," said Dan Doles, WhereNet's chief executive officer. "We are pleased to become a part of Zebra's larger, stronger organization, which will help us accelerate the market growth for active RFID and RTLS."

Independent industry analysts forecast sales of active RFID systems to increase to $6.8 billion in 2016 from $550 million in 2006, a compound annual growth rate of 29 percent. Analysts project growth in RTLS to $1.6 billion in 2010 from $15 million in 2005.

Zebra will operate WhereNet as a separate business unit, which will be led by Mr. Doles.

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