By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Rolling Stones' most recent live album, Shine A Light:
Microsoft has announced the general availability of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, described by company officials as "an adaptable business management product" offering capabilities aimed at helping users "streamline processes, reduce operational costs and manage compliance."
The product offers "new multisite and shared services capabilities" for financial and supply chain management — "For example," company officials say, "the new software can run multiple legal entities on a central installation and provide a single, integrated view of financial and supply chain information from facilities around the world."
Planning and reporting scenarios, such as consolidation and budgeting, are offered through integration with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server.
R. "Ray" Wang of Forrester Research in the firm's report "Microsoft Dynamics Gets
Renewed Focus" in April 2008, noted the "role-based user experience, improved reporting and BI capabilities, and improving platform harmonization" of the product.
Global and local regulatory compliance is another focus of the product, with a compliance center for what Microsoft officials say is "one central, integrated view of
internal controls, key performance indicators and other compliance data."
There's also embedded workflows that automate business processes, enforcing standard operating procedures to limit organizational risks, and country-specific functionality for local regulations in 36 countries.
Normally First Coffee doesn't print client testimonials for software products, but give the Boys From Redmond credit for coming up with this one: The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, based in New York, represents a wide variety of entertainment copyrights for more than 200 writers, including Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, through its theatrical, concert and music publishing divisions. John Elmer, vice president, information systems, and controller, the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, likes it.
Microsoft officials say AX 2009 also has a role center that prioritizes tasks and real-time information for a majority of business functions, a user interface that looks and feels like Microsoft Office software "to help employees ramp up quickly," and more consistent adherence to business processes.
There are also self-service business intelligence tools using Microsoft Business Intelligence technologies to deliver standard KPIs by role and simplify end-user reporting.
The Role Center gives employees "from the executive suite to the warehouse," company officials say, "access to role-relevant business intelligence," providing "a centralized view of each person's prioritized work lists based on their organization's configurable business processes and clearly identifies specific steps to take."
The product is currently available in most of Western Europe, North America, Malyasia, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa and Thailand, and will be available in additional countries at a later date.
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Brandwise, an application service provider, has announced that it will be upgrading the mapping feature of its popular SalesOptimizer product, "transforming it from an analysis tool, used primarily by senior management, into a multi-functional, interactive mapping tool" for sales representatives on the road, company officials say.
The service uses technology from Microsoft's Virtual Earth program. "From a single page," company officials say, "users can view a geographic spread of their customers along with information about how each account has been performing."
Users of the advanced mapping feature will be able to hover over a particular retailer and have an immediate view of information "to determine the viability of a client visit," company officials say. They can add the client to a daily planner or get an actual satellite view of the client's location. Real-time traffic reports and weather information can be overlaid on their map.
The program has a search function that allows users to search within their travel area for particular businesses related to their line package for ad hoc prospecting.
Brandwise launched the mapping feature upgrade on June 1, 2008 alongside a new look to their Web site. All Brandwise customers who currently use the mapping function will automatically receive the upgraded service and training as part of their current package including access at the sales rep level.
The Brandwise product suite integrates a series of industry-specific tools combining Sales Force Automation technology, Business Intelligence tools, Decision Support and Customer Relationship Management "to enhance the coordination and communication of information between manufacturers and their sales channel," the Brandwisians say.
CRM vendor NetSuite has announced the acquisition of OpenAir for about $26 million. San Mateo-based NetSuite will assume about $5 million of restricted stock units to be held by Open Air employees, which will continue to vest through mid-2010.
NetSuite will establish an East Coast headquarters in OpenAir's Boston headquarters and OpenAir's 56 employees are expected to continue in their current roles upon close of the acquisition.
NetSuite officials said the acquisition of OpenAir, a vendor on-demand project management software, will "accelerate development of its products specifically designed for services companies such as professional services, business and IT consulting, legal, accounting, and government contracting."
The merger is subject to customary closing conditions. Closing is anticipated for later this month.
Assuming that the OpenAir acquisition closes on schedule, NetSuite expects its revenue for the second quarter of 2008 to remain unchanged from the prior outlook of $36 million to $36.7 million.
Non-GAAP net loss for the second quarter of 2008 is expected to be between $800,000 and $1 million, which is within the company's previously stated outlook.
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Archi-Tech Systems, a vendor of analytics and reporting products for pharmaceutical data, has introduced a call capture and reporting product built specifically with pharmaceutical companies in mind.
Archi-Tech SFA provides what the Archies call "an approach to accessing customized business intelligence" which, in their estimation, "eliminates the need for pharmaceutical sales organizations to invest in large-scale CRM and SFA installations that are typically overpriced, underused, and inflexible." Of course, if you're into that sort of thing…
"SFA products that don't have a vertical focus on the pharmaceutical industry make it difficult for companies to effectively capture and use information gleaned from field efforts – with data that is often meaningless on its own, or delivered as archaic, cumbersome reports," explained Prashant Kohli, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Archi-Tech.
Archi-Tech SFA is "tuned to exact business needs," company officials say, including "mapping metrics, terminology, reports, and rules to specific goals, and integrating call data with other relevant data including prescriber metrics, sales alignments, market definitions, target indicators, and third-party syndicated data."
Company officials claim that it's deployed in a few weeks, with an SQL-based relational database, dedicated Web server, and Web interface, all with customizable fields and screens.
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Commerce Planet, Inc. (OTCBB:CPNE), announced today that its Board of Directors has formed an independent committee to investigate and examine certain audit procedures and transactions of the Company from public inception in 2004 through 2007. As previously announced, the Company issued a non-reliance statement regarding the prior audit firm Jasper's & Hall and engaged Marcum & Kleigman in January 2008.
Tony Roth, CEO of Commerce Planet, stated, "We are striving to improve transparency and position the company to be a leading online marketing and e-commerce provider. The purpose of the special committee is to review the transactional history of the Company's capitalization, compensation and financial reporting from 2004 through 2007, all in an effort to complete public filings."
The Company has taken steps to lower operational expenses and expects to continue reducing operational budgets while re-branding its core business products and diversifying its online marketing services. Management anticipates scheduling an investor conference call in the next 45 - 90 days, upon the completion of its public financial filings.
Tony Roth continued, "We have continued to transition the company to a B-to-B online marketing and e-commerce provider and have recently begun working with several major brands, including www.FrankSinatra.com
, and www.realtytrac.com
. We are seeing increasing demand for our expertise and services in the online marketing sector. The Company expects to continue releasing operational updates and material contract information on a regular basis."
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Experian, a global information services company, today announced that Jayne Robinson has been appointed Principal Marketing Consultant within its Integrated Marketing division. Further strengthening the marketing business's consulting group, Jayne's role will see her advising multi-national financial services organizations on large-scale integrated marketing projects.
Prior to joining Experian, Jayne was Head of Marketing at Alliance & Leicester Commercial Bank where she was responsible for multi-channel marketing to UK businesses - from start-up companies to major corporates — across a full range of products. Jayne has also held Marketing Director and Head of Marketing roles at a variety of major financial services organizations, including: Admiral Insurance, Lloyds TSB and AXA.
As Principal Marketing Consultant, Jayne will work closely with financial services clients using her wealth of experience to provide integrated marketing consultancy services built from Experian's portfolio of analysis, data management and CRM propositions. Jayne will report to Marie Myles, Director of Marketing Consulting for Experian's Integrated Marketing division.
Commenting on Jayne's appointment, Tony Mooney, Consulting and Propositions Director for Experian's Integrated Marketing division, said: "This latest appointment underlines our ongoing investment to ensure that clients always have the best marketing talent at their disposal. Jayne's impressive client-side experience and in-depth knowledge of the financial services sector will play an instrumental role in delivering positive business outcomes for clients in challenging market conditions."
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Eureka Solutions, the fast-growing East Kilbride-based software company, has won a breakthrough contract with Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB), which is the official destination marketing agency for Metropolitan Glasgow.
The deal will see Eureka, a Sage business partner, install customised Sage CRM software, allowing GCMB to maximize efficiencies within its customer relationship management requirements.
The contract was complex and unusual, in that GCMB is not involved in production or manufacturing, where such software is more normally employed. Eureka, which has built a reputation on its ability to understand customer needs, was able to make the product fully relevant to GCMB's business activities and demonstrate measurable improvements.
"There is no doubt that our understanding of GCMB's business processes and our technical expertise within the Sage suite of products were among the deciding factors for Glasgow City Marketing Bureau," said Alistair Livingstone, Managing Director of Eureka. "Because we have such a depth of experience in customising Sage products – as opposed to simply configuring them – we are continually able to create a new layer of functionality."
The new contract arose out of work on replacement of financial systems which Eureka had undertaken for GCMB, which attracts conventions to Glasgow, and had also previously installed Sage systems for the SECC, the country's main conferencing venue.
"CRM is more usually associated with the process of identifying sales leads, logging through sales pipeline management, making the sale and involving the back office in order fulfilment," said Mr Livingstone. "GCMB is more of a middle tier influencer and as such, measures its return on investment in business brought to the city as a whole."
He said that, while many other Sage business partners effectively installed systems "straight out of the box", Eureka has an "80-20" philosophy because 80 percent of their work is Sage installation and 20 percent is adjustment of the system to take the client's particular needs into account.
Scott Taylor, GCMB's CEO, said: "The implementation of Sage CRM will radically transform the way that Glasgow City Marketing Bureau manages its business. We are delighted to have awarded this contract to locally-based Eureka Solutions and look forward to a productive and positive collaboration with them."
Eureka beat several other Sage business partners to the prestigious contract. Mr Livingstone said: "Everything that we do is at the technical end of the spectrum. Where current systems are disjointed between internal departments, we can create a central core of information where all information for all departments is stored in the one place.
Livingston added: "That facilitates reporting across the business and cuts out a lot of manual and double entry work. GCMB is expecting to see considerable efficiencies as a result."
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London and Dublin -- Finantix, a global provider of component-based, front-office products, today announced that Allied Irish Banks (AIB), the leading banking and financial services group in Ireland, has selected Finantix to support its Wealth Management Programme. The new deal follows the successful implementation of Finantix's advice-led sales components in the bank's retail branch network in Ireland. The bank will benefit from Finantix's functionally rich and flexible technology products and from its proven ability to deliver business critical applications on schedule.
AIB, which operates principally in Ireland, UK, Poland and US, is committed to a business strategy which focuses on developing mutually rewarding customer relationships. The new Wealth Management Programme for high net worth clients is a key part of this strategy.
Steve Lynott, Technology Stream Lead, Wealth Management Programme, AIB says: "As we consolidate and expand our wealth management business, it's crucial for us to meet our customers' expectations with a unique and effective service model. With Finantix's technology, our Group's wide product range and our specialist professional wealth team, our high-net worth clients will benefit from enhanced, consistent wealth services today, and exciting innovative developments in the future."
AIB signed the deal with Finantix in April 2008, following an extensive evaluation process. Finantix will install its component-based J2EE technology in AIB's Dublin headquarters. The system, which will be utilized nationwide by AIB's wealth relationship managers, will feature rich wealth management functionalities including a holistic client view, portfolio monitoring and enhanced personalized wealth strategy services. Finantix's technology will offer AIB a scalable, cost-effective system and the ability to go live with the first phase of implementation in Q4 2008.
The wealth management deal follows the record three-month implementation of Finantix's advice-led sales components supporting AIB's retail operations. In this division, Finantix serves 2,500 users in the bank's branch network and its contact center.
Alessandro Tonchia, strategy director, Finantix comments: "In an increasingly competitive market, it's crucial for banks in the wealth management field to shift their focus from products to a customer centric approach. This is the key to building profitable, long-lasting relationships with customers. With our expertise in wealth management, we will support AIB in gaining valuable customer insight, reduced time-to-market for new products and enhanced service levels."
Finantix's technology includes functionality for branch innovation, advice-led selling, CRM, lending and wealth management. This offering gives financial institutions new levels of visibility into customer behaviour and habits. As a result, they can optimise service levels and create a meaningful dialogue with customers. Its extensive component library can slot into legacy systems, unlocking potential sales opportunities at every touch point via a personalised advisory process. Financial institutions are able to configure the components to match different retail strategies and types of customers, quickly supporting new sales and customer service channels.
Finantix's component-based, front-office retail products serve over 50 banks in 19 countries worldwide.
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Over 40 percent of businesses in the high technology, aerospace and retail sectors across the US and Europe have invested in CRM software, as well as two thirds of telecom operators and over half of financial services, pharmaceuticals and transport.
There are obvious advantages to using CRM software; it's a large part of relationship marketing today. And in today's competitive market it's difficult to comprehend that businesses can survive without it, but many businesses still have their fair share of CRM software related issues.
The big problem with CRM systems is selecting the correct CRM software for company needs and getting the right amount of advice and training to ensure it reaches its potential. Resources are easily wasted without careful consideration and help, warns CRM specialist DMC Software Solutions.
A recent survey highlighted some of the main problems with CRM software — these mainly stemmed from choosing the right CRM software, dealing with the right software supplier to help them get the most out of their software and issues with integrating their CRM data with their other software systems.
In fact, 67 percent said that finding time to chose and evaluate their CRM software was a major issue, 51 percent said that synchronising data was a major issue and 43 percent said that they were using less than half of their CRM systems functionality.
"One of the main risks involved in a CRM investment is businesses ensuring they have the right CRM software and the right supplier to be able to provide them with adequate training and business advice.
The CRM software must be feature-rich to provide a company with much more than just a database product, but at the same time it must be easy-to-use and it must provide real-time integration with other business software and data," says DMC Software Solutions Marketing Manager Rebecca Haines.
Many CRM software suppliers claim to be experts in the CRM business, when in fact CRM is not their core business software and their understanding of relationship marketing is actually very weak.
"It's important for businesses to choose a supplier who really understands CRM and can not only sell the benefits of the software but actually understand them and help to implement them in each unique business model," Rebecca continues.
"It is also important for businesses to think outside the box when it comes to their CRM software – no two organizations use the same processes and should therefore look beyond out of the box products. The scope of customization is extremely important and worth the additional investment to ensure it's an exact fit. "