By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a sturdy ol' album, Crosby, Stills & Nash:
CRM consultant Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light and Chief Customer Officer of BPT Partners, has announced the finalists for the 2007 Steppin' Out Awards.
(cue the Joe Jackson Night and Day theme music…"we… so tired of all the darkness in our lives… get into a car and drive… steppin' out…" through Joe's elegantly dinner jacketed bass lines you can almost see New York in the '30s and '40s, can't you? See, there's Damon Runyon holding court at Lindy's with all the guys and dolls… feuilletonist S.J. Perelman keepin' 'em in stitches telling about his recent trip to the dentist and declaring "cuspid's last stand… Dotty Parker and Bob Benchley… Paul Greenberg draining a martini or two with Harold Ross… well, guess you had to be there…)
From a field of nearly 40 culled candidates for the award the likes of Microsoft, salesforce.com, NetSuite, Neighborhood America, Rearden Commerce and Zoho, a division of AdventNet made the final cut for what Greenberg describes as "the potentially disruptive impact that they could have in 2007 and beyond."
The Steppin' Out Awards, sponsored by BPT Partners, LLC, began with the 3rd edition of CRM at the Speed of Light in 2004. The awards "not only bridge the gap between the traditional CRM vendors and the newer Web 2.0 based customer-focused vendors, but also look at more than just features and functions of a company," Greenberg says:
"This award takes into account the business models, what in fact the companies are actually doing strategically, what kind of culture the company has to execute their strategy and what kind of offerings and pricing models are being presented," he said, noting that the award particularly focuses on companies' "willingness to be innovative and the impact that their innovations have had and are likely to have on the customer community and business as a whole."
Neighborhood America, a Naples, Florida-based enterprise social networking company, was cited by Greenberg as one which "does not fit the traditional mold of a CRM company, but at the same time, has a technology and strategy that can potentially change the customer landscape in the near future."
Neighborhood America CEO Kim Patrick Kobza said Web 2.0 has "created a societal expectation that customers can meaningfully interact with companies that provide the products and services that affect our lives. This expectation is highly disruptive to traditional notions of business/customer relationships."
The finalists will be required to fill out a questionnaire that will be the major factor in choosing the ultimate winner of the 2007 Steppin' Out Award vendor category. The winner will be announced by the end of March 2007.
Prior to the announcement of the winner, each of the finalists will have an extensive individual profile on Greenberg's worthwhile blog, Pgreenblog, (http://the56group.typepad.com ) a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax and Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.
) a lifetime supply of Turtle Wax and Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.
The other Steppin' Out categories are service providers and practitioners. The practitioners will be broken down into several categories. The service provider finalists and winner are expected to be announced in the second quarter of 2007 with the practitioner finalists and winners to follow soon after.
BPT Partners LLC is a CRM training and research authority, founded on "a business model that uses industry thought leaders to develop the content and do the training," Greenberg says.
Altitude Software, a vendor of contact center products for Unified Customer Interaction, has announced that Smart Link, Inc. an outsourcing provider in Saudi Arabia, has implemented the Altitude uCI product to boost the performance of its contact center located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The project is with Electronic Solution House, a contact center firm in the Middle East and a certified Altitude Software partner since 2001.
Altitude uCI is a Customer Interaction Management product that's billed as enabling organizations to "improve contact center productivity while increasing customer retention and revenue generation," according to company officials. Altitude uCI provides support for voice (inbound and outbound), IVR, e-mail, Web collaboration and chat.
Founded in 2005, Smart Link, Inc. is an outsourcing contact center for all inbound customer service and support, outbound lead generation, telemarketing, SMS, fax and Web chatting. It is a joint venture of two giant business groups in Saudi Arabia, Al Khaleej Training & Education and Al-Alamiah Training & Education.
Smart Link's client list includes organizations in the Kingdom such as NCB, National Energy Efficiency Program, Saudi SCT, Sama, Fursan Travel and Bank Albilad.
"At Smart Link, Inc., we focus on the relationship building aspect of working with our clients, while using next-generation and proven contact center technology. World-class contact center outsourcing service is, and will remain, our main goal," said Safwan Al-Khatib, Executive Director, Smart Link, Inc.
"Our objective is to be the Middle East's number one contact center outsourcing provider, offering service at world standards of quality," said Badr O. Al Nasser, CEO, Smart Link, Inc.
With scheduled 24/7 CRM outsourcing operations, Smart Link, Inc. needed "a robust contact center system that could easily support high-volume contact management across multiple channels," officials said, settling on Altitude uCI.
Cebu, Philippines-based ICatchIT has announced their "evolution" from being a BPO service provider to "the more sophisticated and dynamic KPO."
Evidently you're supposed to substitute "knowledge" for "business" in the acronym. KPO, or Knowledge Process Outsourcing, is defined as "the outsourcing of knowledge-intensive projects to an expert company."
"As usual the industry is roiling with change, and we think this step gives us added-value in the long term," says CEO Jonathan Corners.
This industry has been emerging in India, iCatchIT officials say, and is "gradually gaining ground in other countries, such as the Philippines." For iCatchIT, this includes Finance and Accounting, Sales and Marketing KPO. Not your run of the mill, dirtyshirt BPO, mind you. KPO.
"We are not a contact center, but if you need help with your customer-contact system, CRM, or Sales and Marketing, that's what we do," says VP for Public Relations Jerry Corners. "We are quite excited about our services because we are among the first to offer this in Cebu. The Filipino KPO is not yet as popular a destination as the Indian counterpart, but we are catching up rapidly."
Martin Dawes Systems, an independent software and services vendor offering BSS solutions to the converged communications sector and full MVNO services worldwide, has announced the launch of its new Convergent Pre-Paid Post-Paid product.
CPP converges pre-paid and post-paid billing into a single CRM system, letting operators use one billing and CRM system for both customer groups. The product provides customer management functions that let you offer services to both pre-paid and post-paid customers.
Tony Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, Martin Dawes Systems said pre-paid customers now represent around 55 percent of global wireless subscribers. "Typically," he noted, "they have not been able to enjoy the same services as their post-paid counterparts and this is a real loss to the service providers as well as their customers.
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