Here's something to consider: Australian industry observer Sandra Rossi writes about an Australian financial planning group who decided they needed CRM, and built their own.
The Brisbane-headquartered firm, FinancialLine, "developed its own customer relationship (CRM) system designed to deliver high levels of financial information to an increasingly IT-savvy client base," Rossi writes, saying "the system is also bringing new levels of automation to portfolio and investment strategy management and is being used to underpin expansion of the company."
It's known as the Evolution system. FinancialLine managing director Peter Sarai told Rossi that developing its own CRM system is a "departure" from conventional practice for the majority of financial planning firms, which usually buy third-party software. "We knew we had to invest in the newest technology. But it also created significant challenges," Sarai said.
One major factor was the popularity of Microsoft's .NET platform causing "a severe shortage of software developers in Australia skilled in using .NET," Rossi said. So FinanciaLine simply went to Bali, and got a company named Mitrais to undertake the project. "Rather than paying a 30 percent premium to have the work done in Australia or worse still, delaying the initiative, we engaged Mitrais which completed the system on time for a fixed price contract," Sarai told Rossi.
Today Evolution, an all-encompassing customer relationship management system, "helps manage the operational costs associated with the compliance side of the business as well as providing real time information on what is happening with the business at any point in time," Sarai told Rossi.
Indeed -- if you have the IT muscle, building your own system at home is an option you shouldn't ignore.
Staying Down Under for a bit longer -- it's so pretty down here -- Springboard Research has announced the results of its latest research on the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market in New Zealand. Increased vendor activity and the inherent appeal of SaaS have been responsible for the market growing 65% in 2007 to $10 million, in United States dollars. Together with Australia, New Zealand continued to be the most mature market in the region.
"Organizations in New Zealand have been leading adopters of SaaS in the region," said Phil Hassey, Australia & New Zealand Country Manager for Springboard Research. "SaaS in many ways is uniquely suited to New Zealand -- both from a user and developer perspective. SaaS has the potential to free the user from relying on the local infrastructure and implementation capabilities of the software developer as well as giving New Zealand ISVs easier access to a global playing field."
As non-IT personnel can easily choose, implement, and use CRM and other SaaS applications, many business users are pushing forward with SaaS either without the knowledge of the IT department in larger organizations, or in the absence of an IT department in smaller companies.
Balaka Aggarwal, Senior Market Analyst for Emerging Software for Springboard Research, said in countries like New Zealand, where IT staff can be expensive compared to the rest of Asia, as well as in high demand, "these benefits combined with zero or low maintenance, quick and easy deployment, and a lower cost of ownership help to make SaaS a more cost effective option for most organizations."
Buoyed by the success of SaaS, Springboard saw that there has been considerable activity in the local ISV space in New Zealand. While multi-national SaaS pure-plays have been active, local ISVs have also stepped up and are being recognized both in New Zealand and internationally. The emergence of small but focused players like Xero (accounting services) who recently raised $11 million to foray into the international market indicates the increased maturity of local players.
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Infor has announced that it has signed an agreement with Danieli Automation, part of the Danieli Group, a vendor of equipment and machinery for the steel industry, for the implementation of Infor ERP LN, Infor CRM Epiphany Sales and also Infor e Service.
These products will provide a single view of its operations to help Danieli Automation answer all customer requests, in real time, throughout all stages of the sales, production and after sales process, Infor officials say.
Danieli Automation's previous IT system was unable to address vital project manufacturing and after-sales requirements, company officials say. Therefore, Danieli chose Infor for its business-specific LN product, which has particular strengths in project manufacturing and after-sales servicing for the steel industry.
Danieli Automation has also decided to extend its LN investment with the implementation of Infor CRM Epiphany Sales to provide their sales people with real-time access to relevant data while interacting with customers.
Giuseppe Mecchia, Project Manager of Danieli Automation, said with the implementation of Infor's ERP and CRM products, "we expect to improve our customer responsiveness and project efficiency, as well as better manage our after-sales and maintenance areas."
Is there a better Irish drinking song than "Whiskey In the Jar?" First Coffee thinks not. And no, "Danny Boy" is not a drinking song.
Glasgow-based Graham Technology, a vendor of customer-oriented business software and services, has announced that it is working with energy provider PacifiCorp, to upgrade the company's customer service platform.
PacifiCorp is a western United States utility with over 1.7 million customers in six states. A long-term customer of Graham Technology, the energy firm has already upgraded its business process platform to the latest version, laying in place the foundations for a move towards a multi-channel customer service environment.
Nancy Kent, PacifiCorp managing director, applications and corporate security, said the added capabilities that have been provided by the new platform "lay the foundation for PacifiCorp to further enhance our customer service by centralizing interactions across multiple channels such as Web and IVR, in addition to telephony."
The upgraded process platform from Graham Technology will be fully integrated with the new systems, while still maintaining the full complement of CRM capabilities it has always delivered, including customer interaction management, workflow management, meter reading, change of tenancy, connections and billing processes.
Métier, a project portfolio management software and services vendor, has announced the introduction of a new offering, WorkLenz+CRM. The product integrates WorkLenz project portfolio management (PPM) with customer relationship management (CRM) to drive the first "supply chain management for the project portfolio," according to company officials.
The new offering will be showcased at Salesforce.com's user conference to be held September 16-19 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
The way company officials describe it, WorkLenz+CRM drives an optimized "supply chain" for the project portfolio, tracking opportunities throughout the entire sales and project life cycles. The system provides transitions from the CRM lifecycle to the project lifecycle with critical data for accurate decision-making shared in both systems.
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