New Zealand industry journal The National Business Review has a good article on the 25th anniversary of Kiwi IT firm OneNet, titled "Memoirs of an IT Survivor."
As managing director Michael Snowden tells journalist Stephen Ballantyne, "We've progressed through three companies. First there was Financial Systems, which was a systems integrator and started selling IBM PCs when they launched. Then in the 1990s we got Great Elk going."
Great Elk became "perhaps the most famous success of Financial Systems/OneNet," Ballantyne writes, "a remarkably ambitious CRM product. Indeed it proved so attractive to large US-based companies that eventually one of them bought the Elk, renamed it StayinFront CRM, and moved its administrative and sales operations to New Jersey with only a sales and development centre in Ponsonby remaining as a souvenir."
First Coffee would much rather be in Ponsonby than New Jersey, but to each his own. OneNet is still going strong as a company of "about 20 people working from a couple of converted suburban houses behind a white picket fence in the Auckland suburb of Herne Bay," Ballantyne says.
"We developed [Great Elk-StayinFront] as a multi-national product from the start—we had a Mandarin version in 1996, we had a Japanese version distributed by Canon—but at the same time we were developing the concept of software as a service," Snowden tells Ballantyne. "This turned out to be a prescient notion—the 1999 release of a version of the Great Elk CRM product as a Web service charged for on a monthly per user basis was well ahead of the curve in the low bandwidth environment of the late 20th century and may have been the final inducement necessary to attract StayinFront to move."
Snowden and his wife, who also served as his business partner, then took some time off, and Snowden looked to re-enter the IT market a few years ago. "It appeared to me the applications service provider market had not gone anywhere," he tells Ballantyne. "At the time the technology wasn't that good, and the dot-com bubble was just bursting. It appeared to me that ASPs were offering portfolios of products, such as accounting and CRM, but they weren't necessarily going to fit a business well enough to be attractive."
ReachForce, a vendor of OnDemand software and data services for targeted lead generation, has announced the general availability of ReachForce Convert, the company's second Software-as-a Service (SaaS) product.
The product analyzes Web visitor behavior and market segment patterns using predictive analytics to let B2B marketers target companies based on Web site visit data.
ReachForce Convert is used to define patterns of interest and identify market segment opportunities. "By applying custom business rules to score Web visitors based on their activity, marketers are able to determine if a Web visitor is ready for sales follow up or if the lead needs additional marketing to become sales ready," company officials say.
"So many marketing dollars are being spent on SEM, SEO, and PPC in effort to drive more Web traffic, yet these initiatives are delivering a less than three percent conversion rate, which means over 97 percent of online marketing dollars are essentially unaccountable from a revenue perspective," said Suaad Sait, ReachForce CEO.
Zilliant announced that it has received a "Positive" rating in Gartner's "MarketScope for Price Optimization and Management, 2008." Gartner evaluated the price optimization and management vendors in a number of areas, including overall viability, customer experience, products and services, and offering strategy.
The company's Precision Pricing Suite comprises seven applications built on what company officials call "pricing science, business intelligence tools, and flexible process automation capabilities."
Gartner's MarketScope notes that "the market for price optimization and management software is rapidly gaining visibility and growing by more than 30 percent per year, as enterprises increasingly look to capitalize on the business value such applications offer in improving margins, revenue and efficiencies with pricing processes."
The report went on to say that "through 2010, price optimization technology will have a more-direct impact on increasing revenue or margins than any other CRM technology."
"Pricing may be the last bastion of guesswork in B2B companies," said Greg Peters, Zilliant CEO.
A copy of the Gartner MarketScope report can be requested on Zilliant's Web site - www.zilliant.com.
CRM veteran Michael Thomas has joined Neighborhood America as Director of CRM. He'll spearhead the integration of Neighborhood America's ELAvate platform with CRM products to "enable customers and partners to use enterprise social networks through existing CRM applications," according to Neighborhood officials.
"We are pleased to have Thomas on board," said Dan Miller, Neighborhood America's Executive Vice President of Sales and Business Development. "He is a nationally recognized expert within the enterprise software industry and is highly capable of leading our efforts to position Neighborhood America products as an extension of CRM systems, setting the standard as CRM evolves to include social applications."
As the national president and board member of the Customer Relationship Management Association, Thomas brings a wealth of industry knowledge to Neighborhood America.
"Enterprise social networking and mobile messaging are key components in the Web 2.0 age of CRM," said Thomas. "Web 2.0 tools have shifted the power to customers and prospects. Social networking represents an industry-changing phase of the CRM industry and companies are focusing on changing the nature of customer relationships -- from purely structured transactions to the consumer expectation of dialogue and conversation."
"We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to drive revenue growth by enabling the installed base of CRM software to manage more data in a way that drives deeper customer relationships and customer understanding," said Kim Patrick Kobza, Neighborhood America's President and CEO.
In 2004, CRM Magazine recognized Thomas as one of the CRM industry's most influential leaders. He joins Neighborhood America's regional team in Atlanta.
Dealer Specialties, a division of Dominion Enterprises, has announced an upgrade for Inventory Manager, the company's flagship inventory management product.
Inventory Manager v2.5's capabilities now include "an enhanced user interface and more vehicle marketing features that give dealers better inventory control and increased online marketing flexibility," according to company officials.
"These improvements focus on several areas of pre-owned inventory marketing that we know are important to dealerships, such as application ease-of-use and the ability to uniquely market each vehicle in the dealer's used car inventory," said Al Hess, general manager of sales and operations for Dealer Specialties.
Inventory Manager is an Internet-based product that provides dealers with tools to manage, market and distribute their vehicle inventory online. The new version includes an Improved Price Comparison Module that lets dealers compare vehicles within their market area to determine price competitiveness.
There's also a vehicle history log, described by company officials as a "historical snapshot of data changes, including updated mileage and weekend pricing, at the vehicle level, providing a quick view of all data touch points."
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