By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys' “The Ballad of Charles Whitman.” Everybody sing along — “There was a rumor, about a tumor…”
Callidus Software, a vendor of Sales Performance Management products, has announced its commitment to developing several native, Web 2.0 Software-as-a-Service applications on salesforce.com's Force.com platform.
These applications will “extend the reach of the Callidus sales performance offerings to all salesforce.com customers with particular emphasis on small and medium enterprises,” the company's traditional market, according to Callidus officials.
The new on-demand platform, which was announced in September during salesforce.com's Dreamforce 2007 conference, will let Callidus customers deploy an array of sales performance management products at a lower cost. Callidus will unveil more details about its Force.com initiative in November.
Clarence So, senior vice president of marketing at salesforce.com, promised that Callidus' native SPM offerings “will be tightly integrated with our CRM products and will provide salesforce.com customers with a compelling offering.”
Earlier this year Callidus announced the availability of its TrueComp Suite on salesforce.com's AppExchange. That gave salesforce.com customers access to Callidus' SPM suite of products. Delivering its products on Force.com “enables Callidus to maintain its laser-like focus on building SPM products and features without having to divert development resources to platform capabilities such as security, multi-tenancy, multi-language and multi-currency,” company officials say.
Salesforce.com has received two top honors at the Business Software Satisfaction Awards, namely Best Small Business CRM Software and the Best On-Demand CRM Software awards, “beating competition from Microsoft,” as Salesforce.com officials are always careful to note.
The awards are judged on “ease of use, reliability, functionality and value for money,” Salesforce.com officials say.
Woodson Martin, vice president, EMEA marketing, Salesforce.com, prefers to see the awards as validating the whole notion of SaaS itself: “The awards are also a confirmation of how seriously people are taking Software-as-a-Service and the cultural change in buying habits we have seen in recent years.”
While salesforce.com is best known for its Software-as-a-Service CRM applications, company officials stress that it has recently redefined itself as a multi-application, multi-category company. Last month Salesforce.com introduced the Force.com on-demand platform, which company officials hope will be “a new way to create and deploy business applications that makes companies and developers successful by letting them focus on what their applications do, rather than the software and infrastructure to run them.”
Students as customers is the new meme in higher education these days, and keeping students enrolled is one of the top challenges of higher education. Hobsons, a company that describes its services as helping colleges and universities “elevate their enrollment strategies,” has developed what it calls “a comprehensive product designed to identify, engage, assess, and coach students through to graduation.”
Not much different from holding a customer's hand through the sales cycle, is it?
The company has launched Hobsons Student Retention Solutions, a group of services that not only provide a software system (EMT Retain) to help with the technical management of student retention, but also “a complete advising package that guides schools through their entire retention program.”
Hobsons Student Retention Solutions provides a customizable suite of services for institutional use, “regardless of the phase the institution's retention efforts are in,” company officials say: “The product includes retention assessments, predictive modeling, personality testing and change management, technology, and achievement coaching.”
Retention Assessments provide an evaluation of current retention efforts. Predictive Modeling provides a model that uses historical data to predict behavior, thus providing the ability to target efforts, and Achievement Coaching provides one-on-one coaching for high-risk students.
At the heart of the product is EMT Retain, a Web-based Communication and eCoaching system that optimizes campus communication to target at-risk students. “With one-third of students enrolled in higher education dropping out of college each year, there's no question student retention is a real problem facing higher ed,” said Craig Heldman, president of Hobsons U.S.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that only about half of schools have identified an individual or department to address retention issues, Hobsons officials say, and slightly fewer than half of schools have established goals to improve student retention.
Continuing our CRM for Higher Education theme, CRM developer Intelliworks has announced a partnership with InsideTrack to deliver a combined product for student recruitment and retention.
InsideTrack provides “student coaching” services to higher ed, providing guidance services to students to help them manage their academic careers. The company's coaching system combines in person counseling and Web-based collaboration tools, officials say.
Intelliworks is the developer of Orion, a constituent relationship management system — another rich field being mined by CRM, constituents such as voters. And of course the beauty there is you don't even need to change the acronym. It includes contact management, marketing, event management, and analytics capabilities designed specifically for colleges and universities.
Intelliworks officials say InsideTrack will use Orion to manage its recruitment and enrollment coaching services.
TouchStar, a call center technology provider, and ServiceFirst, a vendor of hosted service industry software, have announced a new partnership for a product to unify field service, sales, and office personnel to “increase revenue, efficiency, and overall service quality.”
The offering is tailored to the needs of field services businesses such as HVAC, plumbing, electrical, pool and spa, irrigation and landscaping, security and alarm, refinishing, and telecommunications.
“Service organizations now have the capabilities of full on-site systems at a price point that is appropriate for small and medium sized businesses,” company officials say, adding that “the combined offering includes tools to drive revenue, simplify dispatching, match the technician's skill sets, and check parts availability. This helps ensure a positive experience for the customer while growing the service business.”
Brian Smits, TouchStar's Global Director of Marketing, said the product provides service companies with service call reminders, intelligent screen pops with customer information and service history, automated service order entry, call flow management, complete customer service center reporting, and cross sell and up sell outbound campaigns.
Chuck Simmons, CEO of ServiceFirst, said by using the product businesses can “access the powerful tools available for every part of their operation, and do so remotely without the large traditional license and integration services investment previously required.”
You read it here first: England upsets South Africa tomorrow.