By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Jimmy Buffett on iTunes:
Oracle announced the latest release of Oracle Contact Center Anywhere, what Oracle officials call the company’s “all-in-one multichannel IP contact center” product. It’s considered by Oracle officials to be “even more accessible and easier to use by providing more options to monitor and manage contact center information and employees.”
Following the release of Oracle Contact Center Anywhere 8.1 in June, version 8.1.1 offers agents a 360-degree customer view across a wide array of communication channels including voice, e-mail, chat, fax, Web and interactive voice response. New features in 8.1.1 include enhanced administration and platform management, architectural and VoIP improvements and enhancements to the client interface.
Using the new creation wizard, Oracle officials say, users can now deploy contact centers, and select capabilities based on the contact center needs. New administration features also enable user management through the automated ability to disable user logins, limit total user logins, and automatically set agent extensions.
There are also VoIP and architectural improvements, as the product optimizes voice network usage and bandwidth by routing voice through the core system as needed, which, according to Oracle officials, “enhances the distributed voice capabilities by routing real-time media to the platform only when needed for services such as recording, conferencing, IVR, or monitoring.”
Oracle Contact Center Anywhere 8.1.1 is built to run on Oracle infrastructure software including Oracle Database 10/g/ and Oracle Fusion Middleware. Oracle Contact Center Anywhere 8.1.1 was also built to support upcoming extended media and channel integration with Oracle’s Siebel CRM.
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Speaking of Siebel CRM, that vendor announced Siebel CRM Mobile for the BlackBerry platform. Created from a collaboration between Oracle and Research In Motion (RIM), Siebel CRM Mobile has what Siebel officials describe as “secure mobile CRM functionality that mirrors the simplicity of the BlackBerry e-mail experience.”
This offering is available to existing Siebel Wireless customers and uses the open development platform provided by the BlackBerry Mobile Data System to simplify integration with Web services used by Siebel CRM.
The product lets users access Siebel CRM applications from BlackBerry smartphones and use the mobile functions of the push-based BlackBerry system architecture. The offering enables access to CRM data online or offline.
Enterprises can already wirelessly access Siebel CRM through the BlackBerry Browser, and “Siebel CRM Mobile goes further,” company officials say, “by providing an additional level of integration with the BlackBerry platform to make real-time CRM data available to sales forces, executives and field service engineers.”
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Surado Solutions, a vendor of CRM products, announced the availability of Surado CRM Audit Trail Module. The module will help companies “adhere to the data audit portion of the various security compliance regulations,” company officials say.
Most organizations are facing an increased need for more robust tools to protect sensitive information, and find the first line of defense is to use access control techniques to prevent unauthorized users from getting to sensitive information. “However,” Surado officials say, “it is also important to monitor the security architecture to ensure it is effective and to provide an additional deterrent. Robust auditing capabilities complement access controls and are key to comprehensive security architecture.”
It has an automated auditing product to “reduce the burden of establishing effective audit measures” by providing a graphical user interface to assist in planning and configuring the audit environment. Audited information is stored in tables for review and reporting. Security officers may audit specific database access, functional access, sensitivity of the data and data manipulation actions based on individual and/or group affiliations.
Audit trails are a technical mechanism that helps managers maintain individual accountability. By advising users that they are personally accountable for their actions, which are tracked by an audit trail that logs user activities, managers can help promote proper user behavior. Users are less likely to attempt to circumvent security policy if they know that their actions will be recorded in an audit log.
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Hafslund ASA, Norway’s largest utility company, has “improved customer service through reduced cycle times and streamlined processes,” company officials say, by using the business consulting and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) expertise offered by Infosys.
Hafslund partnered with Infosys to centralize processes across its business units and two product lines with the objective of improving operational efficiency and customer service. The effort has enabled Hafslund to scale its business and, according to company officials, “improved its ability to add new service lines in the future.”
Infosys helped Hafslund “transform from a product-centric business to a customer-centric organization,” according to Hafslund officials: “The CRM aims to improve customer relationships by improving service.”
Infosys consultants worked alongside Hafslund’s management and operational executives from business development, marketing and customer servicing functions in Norway to harmonize customer-centric business processes and applications. The recommendations of the exercise resulted in a CRM product specific to the Norwegian utilities industry and Hafslund’s business and strategy.
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Autobytel, a CRM vendor and automotive marketing services company, announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2007.
Revenue rose to $24.8 million from $23.7 million in the prior-year period and $24.3 million in the second quarter of 2007. The year-over-year increase in revenue was primarily the result of a 7 percent increase in lead fee revenue compared with the third quarter of last year, offset by a 4 percent decline in CRM services and other revenue.
Autobytel reported a loss from operations of $6.9 million for the 2007 third quarter, compared with a loss of $8.3 million in the third quarter of 2006 and a loss of $5.8 million in the 2007 second quarter. The year-over-year reduction in operating loss relates mostly to lower patent infringement litigation expenses and other professional fees.
Net loss in the third quarter of 2007 was $6.3 million, or $0.14 per share. This compares with a net loss of $7.9 million, or $0.19 per share, in the third quarter of 2006 and a net loss of $1.7 million, or $0.04 per share, in the second quarter of 2007.
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Research and advisory firm Financial Insights, an IDC company, announced the release of a new report, “Assessing CRM Strategic Initiatives in U.S. Banking: Run after Catch,” presenting “a holistic perspective of the re-emergence of CRM initiatives among banks and credit unions in the United States.”
The research found that financial institutions are moving to a more customer-centric product and delivery model. Christine Pratt, Research Director, Consumer Banking and Credit and author of the report, will be discussing these findings at the annual BAI Retail Delivery conference in Las Vegas on November 13-15.
The report profiles efforts of several institutions including Commonwealth Bank of Australia , Navy Federal Credit Union and Bank of America that are, in the words of Financial Insights officials, “in the lead for the ideal CRM payback.” The report is the culmination of research based on interviews with bankers and credit union executives.
“Active and high-level participation from our surveys allowed us a statistically significant view of the industry’s strategic direction with 47 percent of respondents coming from Tier 1 institutions,” said Christine Pratt of Financial Insights.