By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The J. Geils Band's Blow Your Face Out double live album. It puzzles First Coffee why Geils didn't achieve more success than they did, they were an honest, high-energy, hard-working American band with good songs and a solid R&B-based sound. You always got more than your money's worth at the shows, and the records are serviceable, certainly no worse than those of more popular bands of the '70s and '80s:
Australia's Virgin Mobile network provider will go live next month with RightNow Technologies' on-demand CRM product to provide customer service.
Virgin Mobile officials say they will use RightNow on all contact center agent desktops to track and manage all incoming calls and e-mails. The product will also provide agents with a single system of record where they can find a history of all previous customer interactions which can then be used to enhance all communications with customers, customer officials said.
Virgin Mobile receives more than two million inbound calls each year. The company's marketing and sales operations can cross and up sell to existing customers, and with the new system the company can better track, analyze and act upon customer feedback.
"The RightNow product presents a complete feature set that matches our requirements to resolve all customer issues in one contact," said Robert Tihanyi, Director, Customer Care, Virgin Mobile, adding that the multi-channel capabilities that RightNow offers are "especially important to Virgin Mobile as we gear up support to offer the iPhone."
Virgin Mobile Australia launched in 2000 and employs over 600 people across Australia and has over 600,000 customers using either Virgin Mobile or Virgin Broadband.
. . . .
Customer Effective, a reseller of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, has announced a partnership with ExactTarget, a vendor of on-demand, e-mail and one-to-one marketing products.
With this parternship, Customer Effective officials say, the company will provide a product that "helps businesses target customers and prospects through integrated e-mail campaigns within Microsoft Dynamics CRM."
Clients of both Customer Effective and ExactTarget can use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to collect information to create e-mail marketing campaigns, company officials say -- "Using ExactTarget's suite of marketing applications and Microsoft Dynamics CRM software, businesses can use information from departments such as customer service, sales and marketing" to design e-mail templates and timely communication.
Peter McCormick, co-founder and vice president of Partnerships for ExactTarget, called the partnership "unique," because "organizations now have the ability to reinforce customer relationships with personalized e-mails based on recent company interactions."
Using these two products in tandem, marketers can send event-triggered communications, as e-mail delivery, design and compliance are managed through the ExactTarget software.
. . . .
T-Mobile USA has announced the availability of Family Allowances, promised in July. This new feature, now launched, lets parents manage when and how their family members use their T-Mobile phones and service.
With Family Allowances, parents can give kids an upfront monthly wireless allowance that works on all the phones T-Mobile offers to prevent surprise overages. The feature lets parents set and change limits for minutes, messages and downloads (e.g., games, ring tones and wallpaper) using an online tool.
Once the allowance is reached, the feature shuts off service for that specific element and parents receive a notification.
Parents can stay in contact with their family members by setting up "Always Allowed" numbers that will continue to connect, even after allowances have been spent. Any unlimited calling features that are included in a family's plan, such as myFaves and T-Mobile-to-T-Mobile, can also still be used.
Parents can choose to establish additional limits on the time of day a phone may be used, set allowances to zero to prohibit the use of minutes, messages or downloads (other than to "Always Allowed" numbers), and establish numbers that are blocked from calling or sending messages to any phone on their family plan.
In addition to Family Allowances, T-Mobile continues to offer Web Guard, a free-of-charge feature that restricts access to certain adult-themed Web sites.
. . . .
Spanning the globe, we now take you to Estonia, where Synaptris has announced an alliance with Estonia's Crystal Solutions OU to offer its IntelliPRINT & IntelliVIEW Flexible Reporting and Analysis products and to support customers in the region.
Synaptris' partnership with Crystal Solutions and its strategic focus on Northern Europe, specifically on the emerging markets, is part of its global channel expansion plans, company officials say. Crystal Solutions offers ERP (Epicor) and CRM products, and related consulting and customization services to customers.
Synaptris' award-winning IntelliVIEW & IntelliPRINT reporting and analysis products are proven in empowering business users to make rapid & informed business decisions while enabling IT teams to minimize overhead and maximize ROI. Synaptris products are winners of the 2008 IBM Best Tool/Utility Solution Award, finalists of the 2008 Lotus CTO Award and winners of the 2007 Lotus CTO Award.
Speaking about the partnership, Janek Õbenik, CEO, Crystal Solutions said, "We are extremely happy to partner with Synaptris to offer and support their reporting & analysis products in the Estonian market. Synaptris' award-winning products will help customers generate greater business value from existing information assets and will help enhance the return on investments from their application infrastructure."
"We are very happy to be associated with Crystal Solutions, our first strategic partner in the Southern Baltic region. Estonia is an important part of our Northern Europe channel expansion plans. We plan to expand our coverage in the emerging markets in this region to tap the expanding market potential we see for our products and to increase our ability to provide local support to our customers in the region," said Madan S. Kumar, CEO, Synaptris.
. . . .
IREA, one of the largest electric distribution cooperatives in the United States, went live in July with Striata's Secure E-mail Bill Presentment and Payment product.
Striata, a global leader in e-mail presentment and payment products, is helping IREA lower billing costs by replacing paper bills with secure electronic document delivery. IREA, which only recently added the ability for its members to make electronic payments online or by phone, selected Striata because of its successful history in customer adoption of paperless initiatives.
"The end goal is to go as electronic as we can while giving our consumers more options," says Mandi Lesher, IREA Administrator of Special Projects.
The eBill is a replica of the paper bill but with added rich interactive features such as personalized news and information and, for consumers whose account is in good standing, a unique one click payment ability from within the electronic document itself.
. . . .
The Times of Oman
Muscat Municipality has succeeded in implementing the e-services management system (CRM), thus becoming the first government service authority in the Middle East to implement this system, Oracle has reported on its Web site.
The announcement came following the launching of the system by Muscat Municipality during its participation in the government e-service exhibition at Comex 2008.
Khaled Dawood Al Zidjali, DG of the Information System at Muscat Municipality, while commenting on the system, said: "The implementation of this system is a part of the government's efforts in improving its service standards and providing seamless service to the applicants and beneficiaries without any complication, while ensuring accuracy, speed and ease of retrieval."
"We are proud of this e-step. It is a great achievement for all the systems and programmes serving the municipality. It is a significant addition to the municipality's efforts to achieve the digital environment to serve the beneficiaries and fulfil various sectors requirements," he added.
. . . .
The Al Futtaim Group has acquired Dubai-based Futech Software Solutions, an integrated Information Technology focused business service provider.
The value of the deal was not revealed.
The group will use Futech's expertise in the business IT advisory space to provide customers with a comprehensive range of business products. The acquisition is seen as a catalyst in the acceleration of Al Futtaim's leading position in enterprise IT. Futech will operate independently under the Group structure as a strategic business unit under the Al Futtaim Technologies umbrella.
Al Futtaim Technologies is one of the region's leading systems integrators and a part of the Group's Electronics, Engineering and Technologies division.
Prior to the acquisition, Al Futtaim partnered with Futech on a few projects including a recent Dubai Bank CRM project where Futech acted as the system integrator. Futech operates in verticals such as banking and finance including Islamic banking. The firm has several horizontal business offerings covering areas such as data warehousing, data cleansing and IT modernisation.
"The combination of strengths inherent in the two entities represents an enormous opportunity for users and organisations of all sizes seeking innovation, growth and choice. It also creates a company with substantial scale and resources to deliver industry leading products and services that address the rapidly expanding business optimisation market," Vishesh Bhatia, Group Director (Electronics, Engineering and Technologies), Al Futtaim said.
"There are very few specialised boutique companies around who have an impressive list of deliverables and satisfied clients. We will now be able to accelerate investments, meet a wider set of customer needs through a richer product set resulting in a significantly better opportunity to grow into new markets.
"This broadens our product portfolio, enabling us to deliver end-to-end business IT products across all sectors," he said.