CRM Vendor Autobytel Results, The Generic CRM Column, EDS and Voxify, Centric and Red Hat

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CRM Vendor Autobytel Results, The Generic CRM Column, EDS and Voxify, Centric and Red Hat

By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an iPod mix of ABC:

Industry observer Melanie Badenhorst puts the matter plainly when she writes "As a CRM practitioner, I'm tired of reading articles about why you need CRM, and why companies aren't getting the benefit, and how to really do it."

Amen. I remember a pastor I had once told of a man who attended a church he pastored in Africa years ago. The man, who the pastor knew lived quite close to the church, would come to a service and listen most attentively to the sermon -- sit in the front pew (always available), take notes, strain to catch every word, nod at the good points and ask the pastor a question or two on his way out.

Then the man would disappear for weeks. Months. One Sunday the pastor would see him again -- sitting in front, taking notes, listening intently, asking intelligent questions afterwards, and then disappearing for weeks. Finally the pastor asked him why, if he enjoyed the sermons so much, the man only came to church once in a while?

"Oh," the man replied, "I listen to everything you say about how to follow God, and when I'm able to do that much, I come back to hear some more."

Would that we in CRM had the same attitude. Because, really, all these "Ten Best Ways" and "Five Common Mistakes" and "Seven Tips For" articles Ms. Badenhorst is fed up with all boil down to the same common-sense principles. But so do the thousands of movies and novels in existence, the thousands of diet and exercise books churned out each year and thousands of sermons preached each Sunday also basically boil down to the same few things.

There's a need to keep retelling the old, old story. Which will be done. If you were concerned that the world would suddenly run out of "Ten Ways To Get The Most Out Of CRM" or "Five Reasons Why You Need CRM" articles in the next couple months, rest easy.

Yr mst ob't sv't himself has penned his share of those -- and will in the future, they're as perennial as stories of beautiful damsels in distress being rescued by dashing heroes against incredible odds who fight dastardly villains along the way and save the world in the process. Archaeologists believe the Lascaux cave paintings are actually the storyboard pitch for the very first Rocky Balboa movie.

So here's the Generic Sermon: Love God and love your fellow man. Here's the Generic Exercise/ Diet/ Health Book: Eat less and exercise more. Here's the Generic Novel: Sympathetic hero comes into conflict with evil forces and struggles and strains to barely, just barely, overcome the obstacles to achieve his goal. Here's the Generic Movie: Generic Novel starring Tom Cruise.

Here's the Generic CRM How To Column: Know what business problem you have, identify what tool or new process you can use to solve it, and find a tool with enough ROI to enact that process to do that job that'll solve your problem.

That's all the theory you need. Now don't read another "How To Do CRM" article until you've done that much, because the rest is just practicalities -- the sitting down and figuring out where your pain is, the devising a way to eliminate that pain, the identifying what tool you need to accomplish it, the getting out and visiting the tool shop and the putting what you've heard into practice. VendorGuru's a great source for the tools you need once you get to that point.

There. See you in a few months.

EDS has announced it has signed a Customer Self-Services agreement with Voxify to support the company's hosted speech applications. EDS will provide speech hosting capacities in what company officials describe as "a secure, reliable and flexible environment" to accommodate Voxify's changing business needs.

"As a leader in self-service applications, we look to best-of-breed technology services experts like EDS," said John Gengarella, president and CEO of Voxify.

"This relationship brings together Voxify's ability to focus on the business side of speech applications while using EDS' application hosting expertise," said Alex Halikias, EDS global CRM service line leader.

EDS' Customer Self-Services is a managed, hosted service focused on interactive voice response and speech recognition enabling enterprises to provide self-service capabilities for delivering customer support, completing customer transactions and providing content-rich information.

Basically CSS lets companies migrate expensive live agent customer contacts to a lower cost speech recognition system that recognizes the caller's spoken words.

"EDS has created a unique and powerful hosted speech offering, which draws from its strong IT heritage and extensive CRM background," said Daniel Hong lead analyst at Datamonitor.

Centric CRM, a developer of open source Customer Relationship Management (CRM), has joined Red Hat's online marketplace, Red Hat Exchange (RHX) to "make it easier for enterprises to realize the full benefits of open source software for today's businesses," according to Red Hat officials.

Centric CRM joins over a dozen other open source application and middleware providers whose products are validated to run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, delivered through Red Hat Network, and supported by Red Hat.

As part of RHX, Centric CRM is joining efforts to eliminate perceived risks of open source applications and enabling small and medium businesses to maximize the significant benefits of using open source software in their enterprises.

"RHX's partner ecosystem consists of providers whose products run on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. As more small and medium businesses realize the benefits of open source, Centric CRM and our software industry partners are building customer solutions that extend our ability to deliver enterprise-class solutions to such organizations around the globe," said Donald Fischer, vice president of Online Services at Red Hat.

Centric CRM is an open source CRM with newly available Centric CRM 4.1. Company officials say the product can "build, deploy and enforce best practices for specific CRM tasks such as lead management or trouble ticket resolution with new Action Plans to coordinate many complex, disparate actions across multiple CRM modules into a single, seamless and user-configured process."

Moreover, Centric CRM supports many databases, with full compatibility with over eleven of the most popular databases available including MySQL, IBM DB2, Oracle 10g, PostgreSQL, EnterpriseDB, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM Cloudscape, Apache Derby, and others.

...

Automotive CRM vendor Autobytel Inc. has announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2007.

Revenues for the first quarter of 2007 totaled $28.4 million, compared with $28.3 million in the prior-year period and up 6 percent from $26.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2006. Autobytel generated 22 percent from customer relationship management (CRM) services and other in the first quarter of 2007, compared with 23 percent from CRM services and other in the first quarter of 2006.

The company reported operating income for the 2007 first quarter of $3.1 million, compared to an operating loss of $9.1 million in the first quarter of 2006 and an operating loss of $8.0 million in the 2006 fourth quarter. Autobytel posted net income of $5.6 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, for the first quarter of 2007, compared to a net loss of $8.5 million, or $0.20 per share, in the first quarter of 2006 and a net loss of $7.3 million, or $0.17 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2006.

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