By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Willie Nelson's gospel album, The Troublemaker:
The worldwide SaaS market reached $6.3 billion in 2006 and is forecast to grow to $19.3 billion by year-end 2011, according to Gartner, Inc.
SaaS is hosted software based on a single set of common code and data definitions that are consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers, at any time, on a pay-for-use basis, or as a subscription based on usage metrics. The SaaS model is popular for CRM, among other technologies, such as human resources.
Why such success? "The dysfunction of the client/server era is driving alternative approaches to IT development, delivery and management, which SaaS is the most apparent version of," said Ben Pring, research vice president for Gartner.
SaaS adoption is broadening out from CRM and HR into new areas such as procurement and compliance management, Gartner has found. However, the scale of change involved in moving to a SaaS approach is proving hard for many vendors to manage. "Due to the law of large numbers, traditional IT product models are becoming victims of their own success, while the relative smallness of new approaches facilitates growth much more easily," said Pring.
SaaS is a "manifestation of the increasing maturation of software development, deployment and management," Gartner officials say. Pring added that this change will have "many profound consequences on the types of IT services that are sourced by enterprises and the types that can be profitably delivered by suppliers, the most profound is that, as some IT services come to resemble manufacturing, they will have a similar development curve as most manufacturing businesses had during the last quarter of a century -- wide movement overseas to lower-cost production centers and overall price deflation."
Although the SaaS market is still small, Gartner analysts said the scale of change that SaaS will produce requires providers to keep ahead of the SaaS wave. To do this they recommend, among other options, to use products built on next-generation Web services, SOAs and highly automated server farms to produce "multitenant, mass-customizable products that facilitate agility while sustaining uniqueness at a reduced cost."
ARX (Algorithmic Research), a vendor of standards-based electronic signatures (digital signatures) and data security products, and Israel-based Top Image Systems Ltd., a vendor of data capture products, has announced an "extended worldwide technology and sales alliance," for CRM and other technologies, according to ARX officials.
The partnership is intended to allow joint customers to "expedite data capture processes, improve internal controls and enhance compliance with regulations," ARX officials say.
Top Image Systems' eFLOW is billed as a single end-to-end product designed to "capture, classify, process, validate and deliver information, from every source and through every application including document and content management applications, ERP or CRM." This information includes invoices, checks, purchase orders and any other critical information.
ARX's CoSign is described by company officials as a "non-forgeable, simple-to-use, standards-based electronic-signature product that is tightly integrated with eFLOW." It gives organizations a way to electronically sign documents, records, files, forms, and other electronic transactions.
When using standards-based electronic signatures, users of the product can sign multiple document-format types including those from Adobe, Microsoft, IBM, and others. Organizations can replace handwritten signatures, sealing documents with legally-binding signatures.
Gadi Aharoni, CEO of ARX, calls the combination of these technologies "a compelling product for any financial, commercial and governmental organization wishing to comply with the growing number of compliance reports required by federal and state government regulatory organizations."
Ido Schechter, CEO of TIS, called ARX "a natural fit for us."
ILOG has announced that SFR, a French mobile phone operator, has selected ILOG JRules, a product in ILOG's business rule management system product line which works with a company's CRM system, for its customer loyalty program, Garantie Carre Rouge.
As a component of SFR's Points Engine, the application that supports the GCR program, ILOG JRules enables management of the subscriber base.
Unlike the previous system which managed the subscriber base at a high level, SFR officials say, the new ILOG JRules-powered Points Engine "enables individualized management of customer accounts, including policies governing point acquisition and redemption."
This means that subscribers who have accumulated bonus points based on their consumer profile, seniority, or specific bonus programs, can more easily use their points to upgrade their cell phones, order gifts such as extra call minutes, free SMS or MMS messages, or make charitable contributions.
The system interfaces with the customer management, sales, billing and CRM systems and is managed by the Customer Service and Channel Relationship Management departments.
Because it is based on ILOG JRules, the new Points Engine allows for greater flexibility and configuration of its loyalty management rules, which can now be more quickly and easily modified. It also claims to be able to deliver the power and scalability required for new customer loyalty programs for special events, such as Christmas or Valentine's Day while handling large volumes of data.
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc., an Alcatel-Lucent company, has announced that IBM has earned the Genesys Gold Certification in Europe for the full Genesys software suite. Genesys and IBM have collaborated to integrate the Genesys 7.2 Customer Interaction Management (CIM) platform with IBM voice, middleware and technology platforms.
The Service to Sales Transformation product, according to Genesys officials, provides "a customized contact center environment." The product responds to incoming data and incorporates IBM Global Business Services, IBM Websphere Voice Server and CRM software with the Genesys platform.
The two companies' joint products, according to Genesys officials, are supposed to "integrate interaction management and enterprise routing with natural language self-service to expand access options including Web, e-mail and text," and enable proactive outbound contact for alerts and confirmations.
The idea is that by integrating these open standards capabilities with existing systems and processes, companies can reduce expense, risk and disruption.
IBM officials point to one joint customer, Bank Hapoalim, the largest bank in Israel. "With the help of IBM, Bank Hapoalim has gained a 70 percent increase in productivity in the areas of product specialty," said Gideon Makleff, senior vice president of Call Centre, Bank Hapoalim B.M - Direct Banking.
The basic idea behind the joint product is to apply real-time analytics during interactions with customers, where all relevant information is routed to someone who can provide "a more customized experience," Genesys officials say, so customers "are not subjected to sales pitches that don't match their needs."
IBM has recently invested in new tools for regional customer product centers, including a natural language speech lab in Hursley, United Kingdom, and a Contact Center Optimization live demonstration in LaGaude, France, integrating Genesys with CRM.
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