By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t com
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Slim Dusty's "The Biggest Disappointment:"
Salt Lake City-based Allegiance Inc., a vendor of enterprise feedback management products, has announced that it has closed on a $5.7 million round of funding led by Allegis Capital, with participation from existing investor TPP Capital Advisors.
Nippon Venture Capital also participated in the round.
In conjunction with the funding, the company also announced that Spencer Tall, managing director at Allegis Capital; Nobutaka Mutaguchi, managing partner of TPP Capital Advisors; Todd Rowe, vice president of worldwide mid-market business at Business Objects; and Tyler Smith, former vice president with Altiris have joined the company's board of directors.
The Allegiance Active Listening System is a suite of six Web-based tools currently used by over 1,600 organizations, company officials say, to "collect, manage and respond to feedback from customers, employees, partners and other constituents."
The tools, which include CustomerVoice, EmployeeVoice and SilentWhistle, are described by company officials as able to "collect actionable, real-time feedback and provide organization's management with the information they need to make business decisions, support the needs of the people that support them, and improve loyalty from inside and outside the organization."
Tall called Allegiance "the clear leader in the rapidly growing feedback management category," saying the company's products "have a major impact on the profitability of businesses of every kind."
Adam Edmunds, president and chief executive officer of Allegiance, Inc., called the contributions of Allegis Capital, TPP Capital and NVCC "invaluable as we grow our market share."
Allegis Capital is a seed and early-stage venture capital firm with over $600 million under active management and an investment focus on enabling technologies and infrastructure in information technology and the Digital Economy.
SplendidCRM, which sells Microsoft-centric Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products for open-source use, has announced the launch of Version 1.4 of its flagship platform SplendidCRM.
The new version, incorporating key .NET 2.0 technologies, allows system integrators to add user-customizable features to applications. The features include .Net 2.0's Master Pages, Themes, Web Parts and AJAX.
Paul Rony, president of SplendidCRM, said the company's "free runtime and free hosting license makes us the most cost-effective platform for the system integrator… the big advantage to incorporating these key .NET 2.0 technologies is that it actually reduces our codebase and simplifies our design."
SplendidCRM, unveiled in 2005, is an open-source CRM application that builds on the design of SugarCRM, the number one open-source product in the field. Splendid CRM sees its added value as being its Microsoft-centric design philosophy -- the product uses pure Microsoft technology stack: Windows, IIS, SQL Server, C# and ASP.NET.
The incorporation of .NET 2.0 technologies allows integrators to add user-customizable features to SplendidCRM using Master Pages, Themes, WebParts and AJAX technologies. Master Pages and Themes are billed as simplifying application development and allowing for an unlimited number of page layouts to be predefined, allowing CRM users to select from a list of layouts.
WebParts makes it easy to define regions that end-users can control, especially on the SplendidCRM home page, where users can hide or move content according to their needs.
The most recently-added technology, .NET 2.0 AJAX, is a technique for updating Web pages without having to refresh the entire page. SplendidCRM relies heavily upon AJAX technologies in its new Order Management system.
As Writer's Almanac reports, it was on April 30,1900 that the legendary train engineer Casey Jones died in a train wreck:
He was driving the Cannon Ball express from Memphis, Tennessee, to Canton, Mississippi, trying to make up time because the train was overdue, when his fireman warned him that there was another train up ahead. He ordered his fireman to jump, but he stayed on the train, one hand on the break and the other on the whistle. Though the Cannon Ball crashed and Jones was killed, the passengers were saved because of his efforts to slow the train down.
Medium businesses in China, defined as companies with 100 to 999 employees, are set to invest an upwards of $21 billion to "reinforce their IT infrastructure and products" this year, almost twenty percent more than last year's spending, with the bulk of the spending being on IT services such as CRM, computing and the Internet.
This finding comes from the latest study by New York-based Access Markets International Partners, Inc.: "A sizeable number of medium businesses in China have crossed the first two waves of IT adoption, and are now in the third wave, which focuses on the extension of the enterprise," says Balaji Sreedhar, Singapore-based Research Analyst at AMI-Partners.
The first wave of IT adoption was building the basic IT infrastructure -- personal computers, basic accounting and HR tools. The second wave was connecting within the enterprise, LANs and servers. And the third wave, according to AMI officials, involves "connecting outside the enterprise, such as with suppliers, resellers, channel partners, and customers."
MBs in China are increasingly adopting enterprise software such as ERP and CRM, the study records, finding that "nearly 25 percent of China MBs have adopted ERP and close to 20 percent have CRM software in place." The survey indicates that "further adoption of these two solutions is extremely likely in the next 12 months," Mr. Sreedhar says.
AMI finds that "very few MBs use internal funds to buy IT products," they typically opt for either "financing or leasing options."
The top three priorities for MBs in China this year are deploying high-speed broadband Internet access, networking all hardware in the main office and enhancing IT security and privacy, the study finds.
On the other hand, the top three factors hindering the growth of MBs in China are an uncertain economic environment, especially the appreciating Reminibi against the dollar which, in turn, is affecting exports; the lack of cash flow, and the ever-increasing local and global competition.
After "years of delay and huge cost over-runs," according to industry observer Randal Jackson, "Vodafone is expected to roll out its new combined billing and CRM system for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific at the end of next month."
Project Sam, as it is known, was "originally budgeted at $200 million," but Jackson says the cost will now likely be between $500 million and $600 million.
One source told Jackson New Zealand had chosen one of two billing system options for the project, but Vodafone corporately decided subsequently to run with the other.
The core problem seems to have been one of scalability, Jackson says, "that as the business grew, the billing system wasn’t able to scale up… It’s understood the introduction of PXT was offered free for six months, simply because it couldn’t be billed."
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