By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Miles Davis's Kind Of Blue:
Davis Medical Electronics, a vendor of new and refurbished medical equipment, has standardized on AccountMate products for CRM and other functions, company officials say.
The firm had used AccountMate Software to run their core business unit for the last two decades, but tracked their sales leads and customer follow-ups in Excel, company officials say: "Naturally, this process was labor intensive and difficult to manage as more sales representatives joined the company."
The company outgrew their client management system. "We quickly realized that an enhanced client and lead tracking product was needed to manage existing customers and post-sales marketing," says Brian Hibbits, their IT director.
Davis Medical wanted a Customer Relationship Management product that would manage company workflow, track and assign new leads, and automate the business process on customer follow-up. They also wanted to upgrade their accounting system and wanted a financial business product that would integrate their lead management requirements.
Davis Medical upgraded their accounting system to AccountMate for SQL, which provides the "essential business backbone" company officials say they were looking for. INFOtrac for AccountMate, AccountMate's CRM product, provided a way to integrate lead management processes and financial accounting functions.
Prior to the INFOtrac installation, Davis Medical maintained customer information in three separate places. One database managed the service department, one database supported accounting functions and another database handled new prospects. Using INFOtrac for AccountMate, Davis Medical was able to consolidate three separate sets of data into what company officials describe as "a real-time CRM product with every interaction entered for their prospects, customers and contacts in one centralized place."
Employees have access to their clients' complete history for service, accounting and sales information cross-functionally. Using INFOtrac for AccountMate, company officials say, "every sales opportunity is captured and funneled directly to the sales representative.
AccountMate software is distributed exclusively through a worldwide channel of authorized product providers.
Clickatell, a vendor of mobile messaging products, announced its work with First National Bank and Santam Insurance has "raised customer satisfaction and reduced costs" through SMS within their respective call centers.
According to a 2008 Aberdeen study surveying 4,500 respondents, concerns over a potential recession is a top-three business challenge for companies this year. Another Aberdeen study found that 88 percent of best-in-class companies considered corporate profitability to be "a key metric driving the need to manage telecom costs," including in the call center.
"We have all been there -- we call for service only to be #134 in the queue when we simply need a balance update or tracking number. Consumers are increasingly mobile and interact with a myriad of companies through call centers, often using their mobile phones," said Pieter de Villiers, CEO of Clickatell. "SMS provides an easy to use mobile product that doesn't require long wait times or interactive voice response systems."
Results from the recent Aberdeen study found that 80 percent of best-in-class call centers are using text messaging, and concluded that there is "a marked difference" in adoption in what the study's authors describe as "non-best-in-class organizations which are not taking advantage of an opportunity to add a touch point between a given company's expert resources and their customers through the use of text messaging."
Aberdeen officials say the cost of using SMS for customer contact is "a fraction of the cost of live agent communications, as well as interactive voice response systems"
UK-based call center analyst firm ContactBabel has reported that live-agent service calls average $12 per call, while SMS costs pennies per message. Done correctly, "SMS replaces the need for live agents, as well as IVR systems, for many simple service inquiries, allowing live agents to spend time on dealing with more complex customer inquiries," ContactBabel officials say.
Text messaging can be integrated with existing CRM or call center products. Clickatell's APIs and developer tools provide a central point to integrate new SMS capabilities into existing or new offerings.
Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela lead Latin America in adoption of the mobile Web, according to the most recent "State of the Mobile Web" report issued by Opera Software.
The report also specifies the Top 10 most popular sites ranked according to unique visitors in each of the top countries for mobile Web usage in Latin America. Google leads the way in most countries, followed by some of the most popular social-networking sites.
Opera's "State of the Mobile Web" report is available each month at http://www.opera.com/mobile_report/ in both HTML and PDF formats.
The report finds that in July the mobile Web "continued to expand worldwide." The number of people using Opera Mini, the vendor's mobile Web browser, reported to be 15.8 million unique monthly users, "grew 9.4 percent month over month, while page views grew almost 16 percent in the same period," the report says.
Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, Opera, said while the pace of adoption in Latin America is increasing rapidly, "the reasons behind this growth are two-fold. First, consumers are willing to purchase data plans because of the cost savings associated with data compression. They are able to surf more. Second, 80 percent of phones in Latin America can support a lightweight Web browser."
For Latin America, Brazil leads the way in mobile Web usage, followed by Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.
However, Argentinean soccer icons do not, in fact, lead the way in modern cell phone usage, as anybody knows who caught a glimpse of Diego Maradona, in the stands to watch the Argentina-Brazil Olympic soccer match, talking on a cell phone that looks like it was swiped from the Smithsonian. What, he kept the one he had when he scored the Hand of God goal against England in the 1986 World Cup?
The study found that while Orkut, metroFLOG and hi5 are the most prevalent social-networking sites in Latin America, Facebook is the fourth-most-popular site in Venezuela.
Local domains are few and far between in the Top 10. Brazil leads all Latin American countries with two, while most have one or no local domains in the top 10.
Atos Origin officials say the firm has won a contract with Great Britain's Gambling Commission for the IT systems that support the Commission's licensing and compliance work for British gambling venues, including bingo halls, casinos, gaming machine suppliers and lotteries, as well as British-based gambling Web sites.
Atos Origin will implement Siebel 8.0 to provide the Commission with "a single, up-to-date view of each operator for both office-based and mobile staff," Atos officials say, adding that implementation of the CRM platform will provide Commission staff with "the regulatory information and intelligence at the right time and in the right place."
"Having the correct information to hand at the right time is essential for all organizations," said Anne Ware, vice president for Public Sector at Atos Origin.
The Gambling Commission is the independent regulator of all commercial gambling in Great Britain. It is an independent non-departmental public sector body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. One wonders which department gambling falls under -- culture, media or sport.