By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch, since it seems to fit the mood around First Coffee headquarters so frequently:
Escalate Retail has announced that the company is launching a retail CRM Webinar series in conjunction with Retail TouchPoints, a publication covering best practices for retail.
The initial 30-minute Webinar, "Best Practices on Clienteling in the Store," according to company officials, will focus on how "retailers such as Sephora and Brooks Brothers" are automating their customer books using Retail CRM and Clienteling.
"Research shows that an overwhelming majority of retail executives have prioritized the customer experience as one of their top strategic priorities," said Andrew Gaffney, founder and publisher of Retail TouchPoints. "Arming store associates with the right sales intelligence tools is a crucial component of a successful CRM strategy."
David Bruno, Director of Product Marketing for Escalate Retail, said in his opinion there is "a significant spike" in interest in retailers looking for tools that "help them get closer to their core customers." For a few years now, retailers have been experimenting with customer segmentation and trying to expand their loyalty programs, said Bruno.
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Mainline Information Systems and Cornerstone Systems have announced an agreement in principle for Mainline Information Systems toacquire Cornerstone Systems. This transaction will join two "True Blue" IBM Premier Business Partners.
Rick Kearney, President and CEO for Mainline, said the acquisition "allows us to combine experience, the expertise of System z technical professionals," along with nearly 700 employees.
Herb Chittum, President of Cornerstone, said "expanded local technical coverage and more extensive customer care and support" will result from the deal.
While this acquisition is centered on combining the two companies' System z (mainframe) product practices, Mainline and Cornerstone have both built partnerships with IBM and sell technology encompassing the entire IBM System Server and System Storage product lines, including entry-level and midrange platforms.
"Over the years, the death of the mainframe has been predicted many times," said Kearney, adding that "the mainframe remains a part of our core offerings. So bringing together two system z partners is a natural fit." Kearney added that the deal should be completed in a month or two, and that Mainline and Cornerstone's existing operations and locations will remain intact.
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Salesforce.com has announced that Canon Marketing Japan has deployed Salesforce.com's mobile product to 1,100 users.
The Canon Group's subscribers throughout Japan can confirm or update opportunities and sales activities in their spare time from virtually anywhere without logging on to their laptops, company officials say, adding that Canon sees the number of mobile users growing as the company expands its Salesforce subscriber base to 4,000 by the end of the year.
Canon MJ had been using disparate SFA systems on a departmental basis since 2005. The company decided to consolidate its systems in October 2007. Canon MJ integrated 22 different systems using Force.com Platform-as-a-Service. The company went live with its integrated Salesforce system in February 2008.
"We don't carry around laptops anymore," said Hiroaki Sasaki, director of business products administration at Canon Marketing Japan Business Products Company. "We can do most of our work on a single handset anytime, anywhere."
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Third Lane Technologies has announced a suite of new capabilities for the Thirdlane PBX software appliance and Thirdlane PBX Manager GUI. The newest version of the company's open management platform for Asterisk, Thirdlane PBX 6.0 "adds features for hosted IP-PBX providers, VARs and end users," company officials say.
Thirdlane PBX "enhances Asterisk management without limiting its capabilities," says Third Lane's Founder and CEO Alex Epshteyn, adding that a GUI and new features like multi-site management, CRM integration and enhanced device auto-provisioning make Thirdlane PBX a "mature, feature-rich and flexible system."
Thirdlane — I know, the product and company's names are stylistic variations of one another — offers management of the open source Asterisk PBX while giving system integrators access to the Asterisk feature set for building telephony apps. VoIP service providers also get PBX Manager's multi-tenant capabilities for managing multiple virtual hosted Asterisk PBXs for small businesses.
"With the multi-tenant edition, customers can start with a hosted system," said James Sturtevant, CEO of Sigma Networks, a Sunnyvale, CA supplier of hosted and on-premises IP-PBX and networking systems. "When they grow, all they have to do is install an on-premises PBX, they can use the same phones," he added.
Thirdlane PBX 6.0 also has CRM Integration with pre-configured connections to popular CRM products and search engines, plus the ability to custom-configure screen pops with any Web-based CRM.
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Ballance Agri-Nutrients, a New Zealand fertiliser manufacturer and distributor, has selected SAP to provide enterprise applications to replace its legacy system. The deal includes SAP ERP, Supply Chain Management (SCM), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
When it came time to upgrade Ballance's existing legacy system, which had been heavily customised over the years, the company decided a packaged approach would be better. "We are looking to future-proof our business with this implementation," said Elizabeth Harper, corporate services general manager at Ballance.
Harper said IBM is their implementation partner. The deal includes a number of SAP NetWeaver licences as well as SAP NetWeaver Process Integration and SAP Interactive Forms by Adobe. SAP NetWeaver PI is SAP's implementation of SOA middleware.
Ballance joins a number of companies in agricultural and rural services in New Zealand, the #1 dairy exporting nation in the world, using SAP products. These include RD1, Gallagher Group, Livestock Improvement, Dexcel (DairyNZ) and Dupont New Zealand.
Ballance will also implement SAP CRM, and SAP SCM is expected to streamline Ballance's supply chain, including improved demand planning and forecasting and optimised logistics and distribution.
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In another bit of SAP news Richmond, Virginia-based AMC Technology has announced that seven additional Connectors for its MCIS 5.2 product achieved "Certified for SAP NetWeaver" status from SAP for the interaction center capabilities integrated with the SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application.
The certified connectors include six connectors that integrate with SAP CRM via the SAP integrated communications interface. Also certified is the AMC MCIS Telephony Channel 5.2 connector that integrates with SAP CRM via the SAPphone interface.
Anthony X. Uliano, President/CTO, AMC Technology, said the company's partnerships with Aspect, Avaya, Cisco, Envox and Nortel "have also been strong," and promised AMC will "continue to develop products" for CRM.
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Equisys, a British vendor of software products for document production and delivery and a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, has announced that Zetadocs for Microsoft Dynamics NAV has achieved Microsoft Dynamics certification.
Company officials say Equisys is the first Britain-based company to achieve certification for Dynamics NAV. Microsoft UK's NAV Product Marketing Manager, Steve Farr, said certification confirms that Zetadocs for NAV meets Microsoft standards for partner developed software products and is recommended by existing users.
Zetadocs for NAV claims savings for accounts departments in areas such as the costs of printing and mailing invoices or statements -- "the production of just 1,000 paper based invoices per month can amount to annual costs of over £12,000 based on the cost of postage, materials and the time spent producing the documents," company officials say.
Equisys officials also point out that "most businesses also retain paper copies of financial documents, spending up to £500 rental space per filing cabinet to provide day-to-day access and adhere to compliance regulations."
Chris Oswald, CEO of Equisys, says Zetadocs for NAV users can convert batches of NAV documents into print quality PDFs and send them via e-mail or fax, depending on a customer's preferences. It also automatically stores orders, statements and invoices in Microsoft SharePoint Server so any authorized user can access them.