The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra's Come Swing With Me! Oh, and happy Chinese New Year, welcome to the Year of the Rat, seen as a very good electoral omen in at least one Presidential campaign:
Idea Cellular Limited, an Indian cellular operator with the $24 billion Aditya Birla Group, will implement the Siebel CRM application across the country to improve customer service to prepaid and postpaid mobile phone subscribers.
IBM, Idea's strategic outsourcing partner, is expected to undertake the implementation across Idea's channel and dealer network.
Prakash Paranjape, CIO of IDEA, said in India, "there are more than 85 per cent pre-paid connection users and they should also be provided with end-to-end products. The applications would enable us to treat the customer base as one single continuum."
Idea has around 22 million subscribers from 11 existing circles of operation and plans to launch its mobile service in Mumbai and Bihar.
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Software-as-a-Service CRM frequently is marketed as "a flexible self-serve platform that can be used practically anywhere by a virtually unlimited number of users." A recent survey conducted by Aberdeen, a Harte-Hanks Company, found that only seven percent of respondents wouldn't consider purchasing CRM delivered via SaaS.
The move towards SaaS as the preferred delivery method for a CRM system is due in part by the need for organizations to find efficient ways to increase the productivity of a diverse sales force, the Aberdeen study found.
The study found that the pressure causing all organizations to focus resources on SaaS as a CRM delivery method is the need to provide access to account information anywhere to an increasingly mobile and global workforce.
What the study defined as "Best-in-Class" companies indicated that they currently blend organizational capabilities, such as the ability to provide remote access to employees (95 percent) and CRM security processes (57 percent), with technology deployment to positively affect the productivity of sales reps, while reducing the IT constraints that would accompany an on-premise product.
The study found that fully 71 percent of Best-in-Class companies integrate lead management technology with a CRM product to provide increased visibility into the sales pipeline.
Gretchen Duhaime, Senior Research Analyst at Aberdeen, said the potential downside, however, is "the threat of login credentials falling into the wrong hands, and sensitive customer information being exposed. Best-in-Class are more likely than Industry Average or Laggards to have CRM security processes in place, regardless of deployment model."
A free copy of this report is available due partly to underwriters Aplicor and Astadia.
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Kana Software has announced that former Gartner analyst Esteban Kolsky has joined Kana as a VP and Practical Leader at Kana's strategic services subsidiary eVergance.
Kolsky will be tasked with developing and launching programs designed to help Kana customers and prospects receive improved service. After seven years at Gartner, Esteban said, he was interested in returning to his roots in the technology sector.
As a senior analyst in Gartner's CRM practice, Esteban Kolsky established research areas on eService and Feedback Management and advised Fortune 500 and Global 2000 organizations on their customer service strategies and technology selection.
Prior to Gartner, Kolsky worked at such technology companies as Intraware and Tiedosta, and consulted on customer service for organizations such as Bank of America and BDO Seidman.
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"Demand for analytics-powered business intelligence" is credited by SAS officials for pushing the BI vendor to what the SASians say is their "31st straight year of revenue growth," with 2007 revenue of $2.15 billion, up 15 percent over 2006 results.
CEO Jim Goodnight said SAS is "free to focus on what organizations want -- raw data assets transformed into information."
Twitting software industry pundits who have predicted slower future growth in the BI market, Goodnight noted that BI applications accounted for 29 percent of SAS' 2007 revenue, and declared "we are not seeing a downward trend."
In related news, research firm Gartner placed SAS in the Leaders Quadrant of its "Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence Platforms, 2008.
In "The Forrester Wave: Business Performance Solutions, Q4 2007," Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Paul D. Hamerman reported that SAS business performance products are "well integrated on its business intelligence platform," adding that SAS business performance offerings have "particular depth in predictive analytic forecasting, cost and profitability management and industry-specific products."
SAS officials report "significant gains in sales of cross-industry business products" for 2007, highlighted by "a 50 percent jump in sales of customer intelligence products" and "a 28 percent spike in sales of industry products, which help bankers spot fraud, retailers stock the right merchandise."
The Americas accounted for 44 percent of total revenue, Europe/Middle East/Africa 45 percent and Asia/Pacific 11 percent. A reseller program announced in 2006 was extended globally in 2007, and the company claimed more than 1,100 new customers in 2007.
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Municipal leaders from QScend's QAlert customers Reno, Nevada, Delray Beach, Florida and Stamford, Connecticut, will present at the CRM Showcase March 6-7 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The event is designed for "any municipality considering implementing a citizen relationship management program and establishing a non-emergency 311 call center," according to event organizers.
The two-day event will feature a mix of case studies, best practice sessions, and hands-on exercises for implementing a CRM system and call center on a limited budget.
QScend's QAlert lets citizens alert administrators to various concerns online, through a 311 or other access number, or through municipal staff. The product is designed to help a city manage the entire citizen service request process from intake to completion, with notification and reporting. It also lets a city produce metrics to improve overall accountability or implement a Citi-Stat like program.
Attendees will also hear from Jamie Schroeder, Community Liaison, Special Projects, City of Reno. Reno DIRECT now handles more than 50,000 calls per year relayed by city departments or by the public contacting the Call Center directly. That results in the tracking of more than 13,000 service requests.
Mike Albanese, IT Director, City of Stamford, will speak about how Stamford implemented a CRM system for its citizen service needs and integrated a work order and asset management tool. Service requests entered into the CRM system can trigger the creation of work orders.
The cost to attend the CRM Showcase is $149 per person, which includes all meals, a free 30-day trial of QAlert, and a CRM Best Practices Guide.