By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra’s album In The Wee Small Hours:
For anyone in Britain who’s interested: The good folks at Concentrix are offering assessments to identify how individual businesses could be improved using modern CRM technologies.
Company officials say they will “outline the key stages in CRM system implementation and, if appropriate, recommend suitable products from the CRM products currently on the market.”
“The CRM market has seen some considerable changes in the past few years,” company officials say, adding “each CRM package has its own features and characteristics, making a business assessment an essential starting point for any CRM project.
They say a good CRM system effectively integrates marketing, sales and customer service functions, streamlines internal business processes and makes it easier for everyone inside a company to work together and share critical information: “It doesn’t matter if a business has two, ten, or five-hundred marketing or customer facing staff, a modern, professionally implemented CRM system can bring benefits throughout a company, whatever its size.”
For more information, or to apply for the free strategic-level assessment of your business and IT infrastructure, visit www.concentrix.co.uk
. Available to UK-based companies only.
CRM vendor IFS Defence, a joint venture between BAE Systems and IFS AB, has acquired the British software company Information Science Consultants Ltd, headquartered in Cirencester, UK.
The acquisition strengthens IFS Defence’s position in the Aerospace & Defense sector, according to IFS officials, and enhances its capability to sell naval enterprise products and adds leading expertise in Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) processes and toolsets to the IFS Application suite.
IFS Defence can now offer improved lifecycle management functionality for Engineering & Asset Management, MRO and SCM in the naval support sector. ISC sells maintenance management software and services, with particular strength in the implementation of RCM methodologies.
Industry observer Jason Hiner
has a good discussion of the features and advantages of Zoho’s online office suite — good screen shots and summaries of the functionalities of the privately-held David talking smack to Goliaths Google and Microsoft in the office apps arena.
“While the idea of Zoho dethroning Microsoft in office apps seems laughable when you consider the fact that the graveyard of failed challengers to Microsoft’s office apps crown includes IBM, Sun, Apple (remember ClarisWorks?), and the open source crowd,” Hiner writes, “Zoho’s challenge has one important advantage — it’s got the products to back it up.”
In the past 18 months since Zoho Writer was released, Hiner says, “Zoho has released 14 more online applications/services. It now boasts one of the broadest and most mature sets of online applications available in the cloud.” It’s even pushing Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, and Zoho Show as your word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Gotta cheer for a company like that. Hiner likes the company’s feisty attitude and products — “Zoho has created a broad fleet of full-featured online apps in a short period of time, but just as significant is the fact that it has done it without sacrificing simplicity and usability” — and notes that “almost all of the Zoho products are available for free,” charging only for advanced use of its CRM and project management apps.
He wonders, however, if Zoho’s business model of “offering the same level of features as Microsoft Office while charging the same kind of fee that Google does for its Premium Apps” is “enough to make Zoho profitable and to keep funding the rapid development of the Zoho office suite.” And Hiner notes that Zoho has yet to give its online apps full offline capability with an identical interface and local caching of files.
Still, it’s exciting to find someone not only willing to take on Microsoft and Google, but to be able to walk the walk when it comes to the actual products. “Zoho sees itself in the same mold as Microsoft taking on IBM in PCs in the early 1980s and Google taking on Microsoft and Yahoo in search in the past decade,” and judging by “the quality of what Zoho has created so far, I wouldn’t count it out,” he concludes.
CRM support vendor Cegedim Dendrite, which works with the pharmaceutical industry, finds that the industry is “embracing online media to build relationships with consumers and is cutting back on traditional broadcast and print media to promote drugs,” according to their latest DTC Industry Check-Up Survey.
“The U.S. pharmaceutical industry is using technology to build a better and more proactive dialogue with consumers,” says Carl Cohen, President of Marketing Solutions for Cegedim Dendrite, which provides technology products and services to the global pharmaceutical industry.
According to the annual survey, pharmaceutical companies in 2007 will increase their spending on online activities, such as Web sites, search engine marketing, and e-mail. Also, to encourage patients to take their medicines — both initially and for the long term — companies are relying more on educational programs at pharmacies and physician offices, newsletters and refill reminders.
Meanwhile, national TV, spot TV, radio and direct mail will top the list for decreased spending.
“The continuing growth of online media and technology to build and sustain consumer relationships, coupled with the decline in traditional mass marketing advertising,” Cohen says, “confirms that pharmaceutical companies can use alternative media to match the impact of general advertising more cost effectively and with quicker results.”
The biggest challenge in DTC marketing continues to be government regulations, which were cited by 61 percent of respondents, up from 50 percent last year. Meanwhile, adverse consumer reaction to DTC marketing was mentioned as a problem by only 31 percent of respondents, down from 44 percent last year.
The 2007 Cegedim Dendrite DTC Industry Check-Up is published in the form of a white paper that is available at www.dendrite.com
Companies are increasingly using sophisticated CRM tools on their third-generation Web sites, a new study finds.
The latest online survey of communication professionals from Charet & Associates, a New York-metro based recruiter of senior and mid-level executive talent in the marketing, communication and PR fields, finds that the human resources necessary to support organizations’ Web-based communications need more money, and as a result, real-time communication is suffering.
Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of 119 participants in the survey on Web-based communication trends indicated their organization had developed at least its third-generation Web site, and feature more sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems and sections dedicated to providing visitors with information about the business, and the products or services they offer.
Impetus for Web-based communications has been provided by a need to make current products and services visible to new markets (rated a highly important factor by 89 percent of respondents) as well as by a need to make new products and services visible to existing markets (rated highly important by 94 percent of respondents).