By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Mellencamp’s Dance Naked, a quickie he banged out in the middle of a string of disappointing records and along with uh-huh — another two-week album — my favorite Mellencamp album.
His albums disappoint because he tries to think too much, tries to make them “important.” But he’s not Bob Dylan, he’s not Richard Thompson, he’s at his best when he keeps it simple, turns it up and let’s fly and leaves deep lyrics to those who can write them.
Sage Software has announced the new ACT! by Sage Online Community available at http://community.act.com for registered ACT! users.
The ACT! Online Community is supposed to let ACT! and ACT! by Sage Premium users, product developers, and Sage Software personnel “interact with each other through a variety of themed discussion forums and blogs covering best practices, product usage tips, and feature requests, among other topics,” according to the Sagians.
David van Toor, senior vice president and general manager for Sage CRM Solutions North America, said by using the community “we can encourage and more actively participate in ongoing dialogue with our customers.”
Denis Pombriant, Beagle Research managing principal, said a community of interest “or, just ‘community,’ is an effective tool that enables marketers and others to gather information about what a large group of people think.”
In addition to subject matter blogs, the community includes a discussion board for individual and small business users to post ideas and questions, and share information about their experiences, and other forums. Fora? Forums? Never studied Latin, sorry.
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ShoreTel, a vendor of Pure IP Unified Communications products, has announced its Microsoft Dynamics CRM Integration application. The ShoreTellians say it integrates ShoreTel’s call management and control capabilities with access to customer data.
The application is intended to help provide increased effectiveness, shorter response times, and improved account management, company officials say.
Basically the product integrates the phone communications and customer tracking. It links an incoming call to either an existing customer record or one of several new record creation screens. Users can dial out directly from the Microsoft Dynamic CRM application using the embedded ShoreWare Web Dialer app, or they can dial out using a call manager and have an associated CRM record open.
Users can customize search settings to enable lookup of both standard and custom CRM entities and attributes, and each user can control how the integration software responds to calls and lookup results. The application doesn’t require any modifications to any Microsoft components — you don’t need to coordinate product updates.
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Bango has announced a new service which the Bangovians say “turns the mobile phone into a personal on the go library.” The billing and digital fingerprint technologies have let Macmillan Publishing Solutions create The Global Reader, a service giving consumers access to books, articles, newspapers and other print content on their mobile phone.
The MPS service offers publishers a distribution channel which, because it’s mobile-Web based, lets them interact directly with customers and get information.
“We never envisioned people would want to read War and Peace on their phones,” said Bob Kasher, one of the developers of The Global Reader. “What we responded to was the idea that millions of people have mobile phones in their pockets,” folks who might fancy a chapter or two of the latest undemanding Nora Roberts or John Grisham opus while on the subway, instead of going through all the trouble of carrying a paperback novel.
The Bango technology is used to let consumers on any mobile network, anywhere in the world, browse content on the Global Reader and make purchases. The ability to authenticate users means consumers can assemble a library of free and paid books. Additionally, given that some content actually runs over five or six pages, the mobile site has a bookmark feature allowing the reader to save their spot online.
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Forrester Research reports that enterprise marketing platform products will grow “in excess of 20 percent over the next five years.” This is considered good news around the Cary, North Carolina campus of business intelligence vendor SAS, whose Customer Intelligence products sales grew fifty percent in 2007.
Jeff Levitan, General Manager, SAS Customer Intelligence, attributes the increase partly to “awareness that an integrated suite of marketing products” is helpful to marketing.
Forrester reports that 83 percent of marketers “increasingly believe that a comprehensive marketing suite that supports the entire marketing organization can make the difference.”
In its “Forrester Wave: Enterprise Marketing Platforms, Q1 2008 (January 2008)” report, Forrester found that SAS “offers a strong, analytically driven product for relationship marketing.”
Additionally, Forrester reported that “direct marketers tell us that contact optimization is near the top of their wish list of technologies,” but that the market is currently underserved. Coincidentally enough, SAS sells comprehensive contact optimization.
Since Forrester completed its vendor evaluation, SAS released a new version of its Customer Intelligence suite in December featuring SAS Real-Time Decision Manager, which uses decision logic on customer interactions.
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The Simses are the stupidest family in Istanbul — on two hellish occasions this past year we kept cats for friends on extended leave. Each time I swore, never again. So we’re invited to dinner a month ago for the express purpose of getting our kids emotionally hooked on a Cocker Spaniel puppy of some people from church who are, yep, going on extended leave. I held out as long as I could, but was overwhelmed, and the beast arrived this morning. On their way out the door, the cackling owners said “Oh, by the way, he chews shoes and electrical cords.” I know, I know, it’s my own fault.
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RightNow Technologies has been selected by a panel of industry experts from Forrester Research, Yankee Group, and Service and Support Professionals Association, as the SearchCRM.com 2007 Product of the Year award recipient for its enterprise-class on demand customer relationship management (CRM) product.
RightNow was labeled a “pioneer in the SaaS CRM space” and was selected in the Enterprise Suite category because of its “strength in multi-channel integration and strong customer knowledge base technologies that support customized customer experiences.”
Greg Gianforte, RightNow’s affable founder and CEO, said more than 60 percent of RightNow’s business comes from organizations with more than $1 billion in revenue.
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Terex Africa, a wholly owned subsidiary of Imperial Holdings, has implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM to help improve its sales and marketing processes while providing access to customer information for reporting, analysis and forecasting.
Terex Africa distributes construction, mining, road building and aerial working machines and equipment across sub-Saharan Africa. The company wanted more visibility into its sales pipeline to improve sales efficiencies and the ability to view, store and segment customer and prospect information.
The Microsoft-based CRM product was implemented and customized by Microsoft Gold Certified partner IS Partners. “For a national company, it is particularly significant to have a centralized repository of information for cross and up-selling,” says Heath Turner, CRM director at IS Partners.