By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is P!nk’s Try This:
Centric CRM, a developer of open-source Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology, has announced the company will receive investment funding from Intel Capital, the venture capital arm of Intel Corporation.
Centric CRM will use the funds to pursue growth opportunities forecast for the CRM technology industry, company officials say.
After more than seven years of continuous development, David Richards, CEO of Centric CRM said, the investment from Intel Capital “will be used to fund additional product development, and to expand our sales and marketing activities to capitalize on the rapid growth in our space.”
According to Gartner’s “CRM Software, Worldwide, 2006-2011,” the CRM market’s growth “remained strong through 2006, due to business confidence generating solid vendor performance. Growth is expected to moderate in 2007 but remain healthy throughout the forecast period, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 percent.”
The rapid growth in the CRM technology market is being fueled by an increased business focus on strengthening customer relationships, Centric officials say, as well as an increased acceptance by businesses of open-source and Software as a Service (SaaS) business models.
Centric CRM delivers its software using both hosted and on-premises methods, allowing its customers to choose the approach that works best for them.
Pika Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of plug-in media-processing hardware and software, has released the latest MonteCarlo software development kit. The SDK includes updates to GrandPrix, PIKA’s application programming interface, that makes the design of their application “quicker and easier,” according to company officials.
The GrandPrix API is designed to work directly with low-level APIs and provides mechanisms that allow applications to access the finer control provided by these low-level APIs. In addition to the call-progress analysis function included in this latest release, GrandPrix provides an abstraction of call signaling in analog, digital and IP, and call control for SIP, ISDN, CAS and analog with Caller-ID.
Many modern call centers rely on predictive dialers to place calls. Predictive dialers are computerized systems that automatically dial batches of numbers while using algorithms to determine availability of agents and calls answered, then adjusting dialing patterns based on real-time data.
Call-progress analysis is used by contact centers using predictive dialers to determine such things as if a call placed by a predictive dialer is answered, whether it is a live person or an answering machine on the other end of the call. This lets a call transfer to an agent, or leave a message on the answering machine, or disconnect to redial at a later time.
Richard Hardgrave, President, Electronic Voice Services, says most predictive dialers on the market are “complex to deal with.” The problem is that most predictive dialers have a long lag time, he said: “A recipient picks up the phone, says ‘hello,’ but doesn’t hear anything for a few seconds. This gets people’s guards up because they suspect they’re being called by another telemarketer.”
In Frost and Sullivan’s “World Outbound Dialing Markets,” analyst Seema Lall predicted the market will reach $204.9 million by 2011.
And let’s note that Maximizer Software has received TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine’s annual ‘CRM Excellence Award’ for the successful Maximizer deployment at a major North American Resort Real Estate Marketer.
“The Eighth Annual CRM Excellence Awards commend the companies that have proven to be true CRM partners to their customers and clients. Maximizer has demonstrated to the editors of Customer Interaction Solutions that their products and services have substantially improved the processes of their clients’ businesses by streamlining and facilitating the flow of information needed for companies to retain their most precious asset — their customers,” said Nadji Tehrani, founder and chairman of TMC, publishers of Customer Interaction Solutions.
CRM Excellence Award winners are chosen on the basis of their product or service’s ability to help extend and expand the customer relationship to become all encompassing, covering the entire enterprise and the entire lifetime of the customer. The CRM Excellence Award is based on hard data, facts and numbers demonstrating the improvements that the winner’s product has made for customers.
Industry consultant Bill Porter
has written a quick and easy intro to Customer Experience Management, in his view the logical next step after CRM.
“Research has also shown that there are now specific keys companies can use to implement CEM and the best experience possible for their customers,” Porter writes. “On the process side CEM seeks to measure customer expectations all the way from early customer encounters in the buying process — customer identification and customer acquisition — through support help requests and additional purchases of products and services throughout the customer life cycle,” or the customer retention phase.
On the product side, he says, factors like partnership and transparency matter a lot while customers “traverse the phases above with a supplier or vendor.”
His essay runs through what he sees as the three distinct phases of CEM, with the first phase of the CEM process, which he identifies as more supplier or vendor-centric in nature, being more generally known as Customer Identification, the point where “a company must decide what the market or customer needs.”
Phase two of CEM involves Customer Acquisition, “also known as the sales phase.” Once a buying decision has been made, Porter says, “research again serves a critical need in CEM by collecting data on the sales win-loss process to determine a customer’s perceptions gained on the winning and losing supplier.
And finally is Customer Retention, “the last sequential phase of the customer experience which continues over the life of the customer relationship.” The essay’s worth a read for a quick introduction to one of the newer buzzwords bouncing around.
This might be a little techy, but if you’re interested, IBM has previewed what it calls the industry’s first blade computing system designed to help smaller firms simplify the management of technology needed to operate a small business — from servers, to phone systems and antivirus applications — in a single system.
IBM’s new BladeCenter “S” can help reduce the 25 to 45 servers used by an average mid-size company by up to 80 percent. It’s sized to sit on a desktop, plug into a standard 110 volt power outlet often found in home offices, and manage storage and up to six blade servers at a time.
Designed to integrate applications most commonly used for business functions -- such as antivirus/firewall, voice over IP, e-mail, collaboration, back-up and recovery and file and print applications — the new system is intended to run in a typical office environment.
According to industry analyst firm Gartner, mid-size businesses run 25 to 45 servers on average to power business functions. Approximately 10 of those servers are typically appliances designed to perform a single or specialized set of server functions such as storage, security and Web serving.
Britain’s Devon Health moved its core enterprise applications to a single IBM BladeCenter system with six blade servers, and today one IT administrator manages the company’s file server, Web server, print server, database server, CRM application and backup domain controllers, all housed in one integrated BladeCenter system.