CRM Foils Ticket Scalpers, SAP's Mid-Market Product, RezOvation Upgrade, iCentera 4.1

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CRM Foils Ticket Scalpers, SAP's Mid-Market Product, RezOvation Upgrade, iCentera 4.1

By David Sims
david@firstcoffee.biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Jim White's Wrong-Eyed Jesus:

Today's Fun Fact: It was on this day in 1849 that gold was discovered on Sutter's Mill in California, triggering the Gold Rush, the event that more than any other opened up the American West, supplied the North with the revenues to fight and win the Civil War, provided the San Francisco professional football team with a name and gave a business opportunity to a young Bavarian immigrant who figured out how to make tough canvas trousers for miners, who up until then had to make do with normal street pants which ripped easily in the tough terrain. His name? Levi Strauss.

At its annual conference to report full-year fiscal results, SAP AG has revealed further details, but not many, about what they call "a next-generation product and an additional business model" that will, company officials promise, "reshape the way midsize companies purchase, adopt and finance software applications."

At the conference, SAP CEO Henning Kagermann outlined plans to introduce what company officials characterized as a new midmarket product offering "breakthrough innovations" in "faster, lower-risk implementation, continuous adaptability and easier user adoption."

Complementing SAP's existing portfolio for midsize companies, the product will use what's being described as a new "enterprise service-oriented architecture by design" platform and will be available to customers through on-demand and hosted delivery.

SAP officials say they want to more efficiently reach untapped midmarket segments, and this new product is how they want to do it. The company detailed plans to invest in an additional business model which will operate in parallel with its established business.

The new product will deliver the benefits of enterprise SOA under a new "try-run-adapt" model using the Internet and telesales, and can be managed entirely remotely, from day-to-day operations to upgrades.

The product is beginning initial market validation, and SAP plans to introduce more details about the product road map and its associated components at an event later in the current quarter, Kagermann said.

Earlier this month, SAP introduced the enterprise SOA-based version of its SAP All-in-One products, aimed at midsize companies, which comprise more than 65 percent of SAP customers. Now, with the additional, "enterprise by SOA design" product, SAP will address a $15 billion market which in the eyes of the German software vendor, remains "underserved by existing business applications."

SAP's recently formed global SME unit, headed by Hans-Peter Klaey, will oversee the go-to-market strategy, organizational alignment and multi-channel delivery for the new product.

Kagermann said the combination of "a largely untapped market, a game-changing product and an innovative business model represents an additional business for SAP. The investment we are making in internal organization, infrastructure, and delivery channels will ultimately pay off in sustained lower cost of ownership over the long term for our future midmarket customers."

ICentera, a vendor of on-demand CRM portals for sales, partner and customer communications, has announced the immediate availability of iCentera 4.1.

ICentera's "Portals for Mortals" enable anyone in an organization to create customized and branded portals for any internal or external audience. The latest version of iCentera delivers enhanced Web 2.0 capabilities, allowing enterprises to deliver and govern rich-media portals customizable with a variety of Internet applications such as Google calendars, maps, blogs, forums or RSS feeds.

The product features deeper CRM integration in the form of support for deeper integration with CRM products such as salesforce.com with the ability to embed iCentera applets within salesforce.com.

Designed for marketing and sales "mortals," iCentera is "used as a vehicle for dynamic content, two-way communication, collaboration and relationship building with multiple audiences through marketing event portals, sales intranets, and partner and key account portals," according to company officials.

New in the 4.1 version include application mashups letting users customize portals by embedding any on-premise application or web application, such as Google calendars, Yahoo! maps, VoIP, and IM, within portals.

It includes Web 2.0 functionality  in delivering multiple Web 2.0 features including blogs, RSS feeds, configurable portal pages and "functionality widgets." In addition, icExchange Community provides the free exchange of templates, communication best practices, and user directories in a way that is easy to track, manage and govern.

Company officials also point to increased collaboration and communication features letting users communicate on-demand both internally and externally with new features, including IMing content creators, increased chat capabilities and forum creation.

RezOvation, a vendor of property management and website booking engine software, has announced a major product upgrade and the addition of more than 100 new clients in the fourth quarter of 2006.

RezOvation launched its GT product last summer, and is announcing the release of RezOvation Desktop 7.0 for "updated connectivity software including new versions 4.0 of the RezOvation Booking Engine, GDS Connect and Credit Card Connect," according to company officials.

"We've added countless features, dramatically increased performance and reliability, and rewritten major connectivity interfaces to insure our customers have the best products in the industry," said John Banczak, chief operating officer. "In addition, new management was brought in to improve product quality and customer service."

The customer service team was increased to five full-time tech reps, a new state-of-the-art internal phone system was installed -- virtually eliminating hold times for priority customers -- and the Salesforce.com CRM was put into place to make sure customers get fast and thorough service.

And just in time for the Super Bowl comes the announcement from ticket CRM vendor TicketSage, Inc. of the release of TicketVERIFY, an anti-scalping product designed to "improve venue security and put venue managers back in charge of their ticket inventory by detecting the unauthorized resale or transfer of live event tickets in as little as two seconds at the point of entry," according to company officials.

Five years in the making, TicketVERIFY works with all major ticketing systems to quickly detect if a ticket has been resold or transferred outside authorized channels. The venue can then choose to handle the ticket according to company policy. At their discretion, the venue can immediately revoke the ticket holder’s license, or charge a transfer fee to a credit card directly from the TicketVERIFY device.

The TicketSage CRM, marketing and ticketing product is in its sixth release.

Developed to tighten security loopholes in unauthorized resale channels, the TicketVERIFY product uses a combination of patent-pending software, processes, and hardware to detect all resold or transferred tickets without false positives.

TicketVERIFY shifts control of ticket inventory back to the venue, cutting down unauthorized secondary market resellers, scalpers and brokers. Ticketing companies can use the technology to ensure that ticket transfers occur on a platform that is within their control. Concert promoters and teams can better regulate pricing and fan access to the best available seats.

The company is looking to license the anti-scalping product to ticketing companies, event producers and venues wishing to tighten security and eliminate scalping.

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