By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Boz Scaggs's Hits!:
Stratature, a vendor of master data management software, has announced the general availability of +EDM Version 4.0, the latest release of Stratature's +EDM platform for dimension, hierarchy and master data management.
Stratature officials bill the product as a "comprehensive MDM security model," bolstering support for Product Information Management applications.
Customers use +EDM for operational and analytical MDM, to support data governance and data quality initiatives across ERP, GL, CRM, data warehouse, business intelligence and financial applications.
Val Lovicz, VP of Research and Development for Stratature, said "although simple in concept, the practicalities of allowing security assignments to any combination of dimension members, across any number of hierarchies, with unlimited master data supported by unlimited business rules, are a challenge."
Company officials say the product's file object management, was developed in conjunction with several customers interested in "tackling enterprise-scale product information management initiatives."
The functionality is being highlighted in the company's marketing for "CPG and pharmaceutical companies storing product images, documents and presentations, this functionality is proving equally useful outside of the product dimension -- such as in the location dimension for storing maps of a store location, or the employee dimension for storing pictures of employees -- anywhere that external documents and images can benefit from being treated as master data," officials say.
Interesting bit from Reuters this morning, reporting that Microsoft is flipping the switch on its "largest server farm to date -- big enough to house seven soccer fields" today, an installation in Quincy, Washington comprising tens of thousands of computer servers in what Reuters calls "a physical manifestation of the company's giant ambitions to be a force in the world of Web services."
Well, that and the $550 million data center in San Antonio. Hey when you take on Google you need such infrastructure.
The data centers "provide the base infrastructure upon which Microsoft can create a range of web services such as its Xbox Live online video game system to its upcoming CRM Live business software," Reuters observes.
The article quoted Morningstar analyst Toan Tran saying that since data centers are "the basic infrastructure that enable Web services," if Microsoft wants to compete in services "this is the price of admission. The software industry is headed toward Web services, so this is what Microsoft has to do."
Adobe Systems and salesforce.com have announced the availability of the Adobe Flex Toolkit for Apex, described by Adobe officials as "a set of programming tools that combines the capabilities of Flex and salesforce.com's Apex platform" to enable new Internet business applications.
Using the product, developers can create application "experiences" for their salesforce.com deployments and Apex applications. Developers can also make their Flex-based applications available on the AppExchange directory, and deploy them on-demand and with no additional software required.
The toolkit lets applications access Apex Web services APIs, allowing developers to create end-to-end, rich and innovative Web applications.
The Apex platform's embedded mashup features allow developers to insert services and content from the Web within the native Salesforce user interface. The Flex Toolkit allows the use of drag and drop, rich media and desktop app look and feel to be embedded within Salesforce and Apex applications.
Because these Flex components of Apex applications are browser-based technology, they can be deployed without any additional software or infrastructure, and even packaged and redistributed on the AppExchange.
Zilliant, a vendor of price optimization and management software, has announced that since achieving "Powered by NetWeaver" certification, it has seen what company officials call a "significant increase" in customers running or planning to deploy SAP applications.
Numerous global corporations including Insight Enterprises, Smith and Nephew, and the Schneider Electric North American Operating Division have selected Zilliant as their data-driven price management product "in part because of Zilliant's compatibility with SAP platforms and applications."
Zilliant attributes this momentum to a combination of factors, including Zilliant's Powered by Netweaver certification and its numerous SAP-integrated deployments.
Zilliant Precision Pricing Suite applies "pricing science" to transactional and master data from SAP to segment and optimize pricing. In many deployments, ZPPS then feeds these profit-maximizing price recommendations back into SAP in the form of pricing guidelines that help sales people get the best pricing possible on every deal.
"Companies are looking for ways to use data from their ERP, order management, and CRM systems to make more informed and profitable decisions," believes Greg Peters, Zilliant CEO.
There's an excellent piece by industry observer Mary Hayes Weier on the tech weapons Dunkin' Donuts is using to try to combat Starbucks, including a system built by business intelligence vendor Oco Inc., which Dunkin Donuts CIO Dan Sheehan tells Weier is like "a CRM application with a scorecard built on top," in Weier's words.
Most of Dunkin' Donuts' 5,000 or so franchises are in the Northeast. You give directions in Boston by how many Dunkin' Donuts to pass before turning left. Starbucks would like a piece of that action. And as it turns out, the private equity group that bought Dunkin' Donuts last year, Weier says, would like a piece of Starbucks' global action: They're planning for "15,000 franchises worldwide," whereas Starbucks has 12,000 stores worldwide, "including 8,800 in the U.S., and plans to add another 2,400 globally this year."
Dunkin' Donuts is wheeling out a system to streamline the process of awarding franchises, on the theory that if they're the first to occupy ground they can fend off Starbucks later. "Salespeople and managers use the system to manage information about these [franchise] customers, including the stage of each potential deal and how financing is going for them," Weier explains.
And this is key -- since Starbucks doesn't franchise they can parachute in anywhere whenever they want, no mucking around with franchisee approval and funding and royalties and all that.
The Dunkin' Donuts system gives company managers "a dashboard-type software application to identify any problem areas so they can keep deals on track," Weier explains: "They can get a geographic view of regions where deals are stalling, and then drill down into a specific account to determine what's slowing down the process. They can identify potential deals in locales that are too close in proximity. They also can identify high-performing areas, and gather best practices from those regions' salespeople to share with other areas. Key metrics they're watching include the average cycle time for getting a franchise deal done, the size of deals, and average cycle time by what type of deal gets done."
Of course the best of all possible worlds would be Dunkin' Donuts doughnuts with Starbucks' coffee. Here in Istanbul we buy pastries at a Turkish-French café along Istiklal Caddesi, walk three doors down and get coffee at Starbucks. Fortunately neither establishment minds the arrangement.
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