CRM from RightNow, IFS for Prism Solar, ERP from SAP, OSA's First Birthday, CRM Get-Together from Oracle

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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CRM from RightNow, IFS for Prism Solar, ERP from SAP, OSA's First Birthday, CRM Get-Together from Oracle

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is "I Saw Her Standing There," from the last stage performance John Lennon ever gave -- duetting with Elton John at Madison Square Garden in 1974, captured on Elton's Here and There album:

The Open Solutions Alliance, which describes itself as "a nonprofit, vendor-neutral consortium," dedicated to "driving the interoperability and mainstream adoption of comprehensive open products," marked its one-year anniversary with three new members.

"The commercial open-source industry is no longer in an early-adopter phase," said Dominic Sartorio, OSA president and senior director of product management at SpikeSource, an open-source services company. "Now that we've entered the mainstream phase of adoption, it's even more important that open products have the fit, form and function that an enterprise organization expects."

The OSA seeks to promote interoperability among open products by fostering a multilateral approach, as in its Common Customer View, described by alliance officials as "an integrated suite of front-office, back-office, business intelligence and business planning applications." The CCV was the first of several joint projects to be focused on making open source products work together in a cohesive suite of products.

The CCV was built and tested by OSA members including Adaptive Planning, Concursive, Ingres, JasperSoft, Openbravo, SpikeSource, Talend and Unisys, and is currently available for purchase through Unisys.

Going forward, alliance officials say, the CCV will continue to expand.  Future versions will include participation from more members, will introduce loosely coupled integration best practices including SOA and REST, and will serve as a reference implementation of those best practices.

In January, the OSA underlined its global focus by announcing a new chapter structure. The first non-U.S. chapter will be based in Europe and will debut this spring. The OSA expects to expand further with chapters in Latin America and Asia in the coming year.

New OSA members include the consortium's first Asian member, Kaigen Solution K.K., a systems integrator based in Yokohama, Japan, specializing in open source deployments, internationalization and localization. IONA Technologies, a vendor of service-oriented architecture infrastructure products, also joined the OSA recently.

The Open Solutions Alliance is a nonprofit, vendor-neutral consortium founded in 2007.

SAP AG has announced the availability of the third enhancement package for its ERP application, cleverly named SAP ERP. Released incrementally and "at no charge to existing customers," the product lets customers access new software features via a download to switch on as needed, "without touching mission-critical core systems."

The software vendor also said more than half of the enterprise services bundles created for the third enhancement package were developed "through efforts of the SAP ecosystem of partners and customers."

SAP officials say the incremental delivery is a value benefit for customers in the latest release of SAP ERP (release 6.0). "Customers can consume innovation at their own option," company officials say, "switching on the innovation they require at a pace of their choosing and business case."

The enhancement package has updates in the retail, trading and public services sectors, as well as enhancements to core ERP modules including financials, human capital management, procurement, corporate services, and sales and service.

For the public sector it adds functionality to enable grant management, tax and revenue management, tax return processing, shopping cart commitment and item hierarchies.

And for the retail and trading industries it has modules for global data synchronization, merchandise and assortment planning, retail method of accounting, product lookup in the customer order management process and other features.

SAP officials say there have been over 4,000 go-lives since January 2007, including GISA GmbH in Germany, HT Media in India and Valero Energy Corporation. The firm also announced that its third enhancement package includes over 50 enterprise services bundles, groups of existing services interfaces for various modules.

"Software applications managers need ways to make ERP more relevant to business users to maintain support for next-generation ERP projects," said Jeff Woods, research vice president, Gartner. "Making users wait until the next major ERP upgrade cycle for new functionality isn't a user-oriented practice."

IFS has announced that Prism Solar Technologies, has implemented IFS Applications at its Lake Katrine, New York location.

Prism makes solar module technology, used in residential, commercial and industrial solar electric applications. By implementing IFS Applications, Prism officials say they expect to be "able to react more quickly to changing market demands" and "implement process controls to accommodate its expanding business."

Corning Data Services, of Corning, N.Y. helped Prism with their application selection process, and will further assist them in the implementation of IFS Applications. Prism Solar will implement the IFS Applications product suite of mixed-mode manufacturing.

The high-tech industry is one of IFS' targeted vertical markets. IFS offers industry-specific products for companies in the electronic equipment, electronic component, and semiconductor industries. These products are for business processes from design and mixed-mode manufacturing to after-sales support and warranty management.

RightNow Technologies has introduced RightNow February '08, the latest release of its enterprise-class, on demand customer relationship management (CRM) product.

This version, company officials say, offers "a new contextual workspace" as well as topic monitoring capabilities to help "understand customer sentiment."

The agent desktop is enhanced with a new workspace to help provide "relevant, personalized service." Using information from and about the customer and knowing what actions the agent must take, RightNow tailors content and functionality on the agent's desktop to address the issue at hand.

For example, if a customer calls to return a product, the agent's desktop -- which can be integrated with a return merchandise authorization system -- will automatically present the data and steps to enable a return. Or, if a customer is calling to register a product, the agent's desktop instantly displays a product registration screen.

Antenna Software, a Certified Partner in the Oracle PartnerNetwork, has announced that it will discuss mobile CRM strategies and host a series of networking events at this week's Oracle CRM Community Spring Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The three-day event will feature industry experts, including Antenna Software executives, who will offer "real-world examples and best practices on how to use CRM systems and maximize ROI," according to the Oraclians.

Jim Somers, vice president of marketing at Antenna Software, will join Chris Armstrong, CRM product strategy director at Oracle, on a panel titled "New Integration with Sales for Handhelds."

Somers and Armstrong will discuss how mobile CRM technologies can be used more effectively in the field with live sales teams.

The event will be held at the Scottsdale Hilton Resort & Villas, in Scottsdale, Arizona, February 24-27.

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