Microsoft CRM for SABC, CDC Buys Saratoga CRM, CallMiner and SPSS, Oracle and Blue Skies, Optegra CRM

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Microsoft CRM for SABC, CDC Buys Saratoga CRM, CallMiner and SPSS, Oracle and Blue Skies, Optegra CRM

By David Sims
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The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Neil Young's "When You Dance, I Can Really Love:"

The South African Broadcasting Corporation and Microsoft Corp. have announced the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM across SABC's sales and marketing organization.

The product, which was implemented within eight months, will hopefully "improve work-force productivity by automating the entire sales process and providing employees with easy access to real-time information," according to SABC officials.

Phase one of the project was rolled out to 250 employees in the company's head office and is currently being deployed to its network of regional offices.

Over 24 million adults tune in to the SABC's network of 18 radio stations every day, and 19 million adults watch the three free-to-air television channels. SABC Commercial Enterprises, comprising commercial airtime sales across radio and television, program, sport and education sponsorships, and interactive media sales, currently accounts for 76 percent of the SABC's revenue.

"Given the contribution of the Commercial Enterprises division to SABC's overall business, we identified the need for a client-centric approach to manage business leads across various sales units," said Gab Mampone, group executive of SABC Commercial Enterprises. "Our priority was to ensure that the product could integrate with Microsoft Office and Outlook, which are currently standard tools of the trade."

Microsoft CRM automates the third-party movement of customers directly into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM database and integrates it into the division's existing data warehouse for reporting requirements, and feeds into its business management tool.

SABC officials say the deployment of Microsoft Dynamics CRM has resulted in numerous benefits for the SABC, such as simplified customer data entry, improvements in report compilation, job prioritization and general searches as well as one view of all the sales engagements underway.

Warren O'Reilly, director of IMMIX Solutions which assisted with the implementation, the SABC is now "99 percent self-sufficient in maintaining the Microsoft CRM system and training employees."

CDC Software, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese business software vendor CDC Corporation, has announced a definitive merger agreement with Saratoga Systems, a vendor of CRM primarily for large, global enterprises and specific vertical industries which are "additive and complementary to the vertical industries already addressed by current CDC Software" tools, CDC officials say.

The acquisition is expected to be completed within approximately two weeks. With approximate annual revenues of $25 million, the acquisition of Saratoga is expected to be immediately accretive to CDC Software.

The Saratoga CRM products are primarily designed for companies in the chemicals, consumer products, energy, insurance and selected manufacturing industries. Saratoga has more than 350 customers globally, including Allstate, BASF, Blue Cross Blue Shield of GA, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Dresser-Rand, Konica Minolta and Metropolitan Life.

The addition of Saratoga CRM to CDC Software adds to the company's current Pivotal CRM applications designed primarily for financial services, home building and additional manufacturing industries. CDC officials say the Saratoga CRM applications are also complementary to the Ross Enterprise products for chemicals manufacturers, and the recently acquired Respond applications for complaint and feedback management.

Effective upon the completion of the acquisition, CDC Software will appoint Bruce McIntyre as general manager of Saratoga.

CallMiner, a speech analytics vendor, and SPSS Inc., a provider of predictive analytics software, have announced they have joined forces.

By aligning CallMiner's speech analytics product, CallMiner Eureka!, with the SPSS predictive enterprise platform, CallMiner and SPSS hope to sell businesses the ability "to not only determine why customers are calling and how calls are handled, but also to take that analysis a step further to determine future customer behavior," according to CallMiner officials.

CallMiner Eureka! is a speech analytics product designed to analyze and report on the content, context, purpose and result of recorded conversations handled by contact center agents. Company officials say it can mine and analyze "every word of every call," as well as captures acoustic data (tempo, silence and stress), meta-data and customer information to provide "a complete picture of all calls and their outcomes."

SPSS sells predictive analytics technology to give organizations "on-demand insight" into both structured and unstructured data, such as call center notes, e-mail, blogs and Wikis. The addition of voice data is a move to let SPSS text mine "huge repositories of untapped information and, at the same time, factor in important attributes like voice stress and emotion," SPSS officials say.

Oracle has announced that it has "teamed with" Blue Skies, an IT business management consulting firm, and systems integrator Systems Management Inc. to offer the "Interconnect" business assessment methodology for Oracle products for the media and entertainment industry.

Through the program Oracle, Blue Skies and SMI will work to make, oh, just a whole lot of recommendations for customers: "The program aims to help media and entertainment companies examine their strategic business goals and align enterprise IT systems with these objectives to gain significant operational efficiency," Oracle officials say.

Oracle provides business applications and infrastructure software to support the creation and delivery of new media and entertainment services. Blue Skies is a boutique IT business management consulting company that specializes in helping media and entertainment organizations such as Technicolor, Warner Music, Sony and EMI Music to define and execute IT strategies. SMI provides full lifecycle system implementation services and support for its clients. SMI is a member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork.

Interconnect assessments -- conducted by Oracle, Blue Skies and SMI -- combine operational and entertainment industry best practices to help improve business performance and system consolidation, Oracle officials say. Media and entertainment customers can us this program, combined with Oracle's enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, databases and CRM to improve the quality of their business plans.

Denver-based Optegra, a customer relationship management (CRM) consultancy, has announced the launch of its newest business product for the manufacturing industry -- VRO 360 for Manufacturing.

The product is built on Infor CRM Epiphany, and combines CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning technologies such as Baan, SX.enterprise and BPCS with the standard MS-Outlook desktop and Web portlets.

VRO 360 lets manufacturers "provide internal work teams, such as sales, the capability to use the standard Outlook desktop to create, access and update prospect interactions such as account and contact information," company officials say.

The product is billed by company officials as tying the service, sales, marketing and analytics components of CRM with ERP information such as order histories, multiple quotes and proposals.

"The senior management team, for example, can have a 'user specific' view of CRM and ERP data via a simple Web portlet without having to learn how to use either a CRM or the ERP system," company officials promise.

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