By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of that all-important third cup of coffee this morning, and the music is... well, let's have Apple pick the music for us. Okay, 5,476 songs on the iPod, let's just hit Shuffle Songs and see what the first one to come up is... Jaco Pastorius's "Continuum." Excellent choice, Apple. Greatest jazz bassist ever, which is to say the greatest bassist ever. Makes me want to turn my own bass into a doorstop every time I listen to him play:
Nuance Communications, a speech products vendor, has announced its "Can't Stop the Stupid Calls" contest, described by company officials as "a light-hearted program designed to provide call center agents a forum where they can shed light on the realities of trying to help some of those customers out there who really cannot help themselves."
Through sharing their stories, call center agents will earn a chance to win a number of cash prizes. Nuance is collecting entries now at www.cantstopstupidcalls.com
. The first 20 entries automatically win $100. Please see the official rules for details.
Giving an example, the site tells of one call center agent who received a call from a customer who tried to thaw peas in a microwave, which didn't work. Then she placed peas in a clothes dryer, resulting in -- guess what? -- smashed peas on the interior of the machine.
So why did she call customer service? To ask how to get the smashed peas out of the lint capture container. Some calls you just don't get trained for.
"Nuance wants to acknowledge some of that heroism that happens in call centers every day and have some fun while doing it," said Lynda Kate Smith, general manager, of the Care business unit at Nuance. "Sometimes there are problems you just can't resolve."
The Web site is designed to not only capture stories, Nuance officials say, but to "create a sense of community where people can share stories, offer comments and have fun. It will be closely moderated and no actual customer or company names will be referenced in the publicly shared story."
First 20 entries win $100 automatically. Judges will award $1,000 each to the following category winners -- "You've Got to Be Kidding Me!," "Sounds Like Fiction" and "Vacation Day Earned!" Plus $1,000 goes to the entry receiving the most votes online by October 6.
The contest begins today, and winners will be announced the week of October 27.
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Aspect Software, a vendor of communications for the contact center, has announced the appointment of Andy Bezaitis as senior vice president of corporate development.
In this role, Bezaitis' responsibilities will include "driving partnerships with strategic players and exploring and evaluating potential acquisition candidates," according to Aspect officials, who say one objective will be "identifying opportunities to further enhance the Aspect Software Unified Communications for the Contact Center strategy."
Bezaitis called the appointment "a great opportunity... our strategic alliance with Microsoft has created tremendous energy and possibilities for Aspect."
Bezaitis has more than 20 years of experience in business development and communications technology. Most recently, he was the senior vice president of business development at Cantata Technology.
He's also served as founder and chief executive officer of Apopleo, as well as founder and chief executive officer of Cambia Networks. He has also held senior management positions at 3COM Corporation, Motorola, Inc., and IIT Research Institute.
Bezaitis has authored several wireless data networking white papers and frequently speaks at industry trade events. Bezaitis has also been awarded nine United States patents for various technologies, including mobile Internet protocol, point-to-point protocol connection, wireless networking authentication, and voice over Internet Protocol.
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NetSuite has announced the latest companies to switch from Microsoft Great Plains to NetSuite.
Company officials say the firms switched "largely to take advantage of NetSuite's integration of enterprise resource planning (ERP)/Accounting, customer relationship management and e-commerce capabilities."
These new customers, which include CMC Energy Services, Symbiot, Safir Rosetti and Advantage Sign Supply, also cited "advanced functionality and ease of use" as the other compelling reasons for moving to NetSuite.
Angelica Biehl, IT Support, Home Energy Tune-UP, a new national residential energy audit program of CMC Energy Services, based in Bethesda, Maryland said her company needed "CRM data integrated with accounting and ERP data."
Older generation software applications like Microsoft Great Plains were once very popular within mid-sized companies, NetSuite officials say, adding that "NetSuite is designed as a single system for ERP, CRM and e-commerce operations."
"After a little more than two years of using Great Plains and Salesforce.com, we decided we really needed a completely integrated system to gain better visibility, so we switched to NetSuite," said Ray Jones, Senior VP, Infrastructure/Supply Chain Management, Symbiot, adding that "the ability to access our accounting information along with CRM data from anywhere in the country is a huge benefit for our company.
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Ringback tones are on track to become the most attractive mobile content category by 2012, according to new market research from MultiMedia Intelligence.
With worldwide revenue nearly tripling to $4.7 billion, the study finds, ringback tones will fall just short of mobile gambling revenue in capturing the largest share of the mobile premium content market (well, not including mobile video and mobile TV).
"Developed markets, such as Japan and Korea, have seen dramatic growth in premium content, with some operators seeing data revenue exceed 30 percent of total service revenue," the study reports, adding that "as key Asian markets continue to evolve, growth has shifted to Europe and then the Americas."
"Ringback tones are quickly becoming the Golden Child of the mobile music market," said Frank Dickson, Chief Research Officer with MultiMedia Intelligence. Dickson pointed to "a combination of consumer popularity, and minimal impact from DRM or piracy" as reasons for the surge.
"The current leading mobile premium content category of realtones is already facing challenges," in that "consumers increasingly are able to create their own ringtones. The price disparity compared to a full track download is also a growing factor," Dickson noted.
By 2012, the study finds, "the mobile music market in Japan, for example, will be over 7 times the size of the mobile music market in South Korea."
Last September Mark Kirstein, Frank Dickson, and Rick Sizemore formed MultiMedia Intelligence, to provide "actionable intelligence on the markets and technologies for delivering IP video to the nth screen -- the world beyond the classic three screens of TVs, mobile handsets, and computers," according to company officials.
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As far as dumb stories to call centers go, First Coffee's favorite is still the one, probably apocryphal, where someone calls to find out how to get back into the Word Perfect program -- "Well, I was just typing along, and all of a sudden the words went away... It's blank; it won't accept anything when I type." -- and after many minutes tells the call center agent no, he can't see if the cable's plugged into the back of his computer because he doesn't have an office light because there's a power failure, and the agent tells him to pack his computer up and ship it back because he's too stupid to own one.