By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and we might run out of the music halfway through, the battery on the iPod is awfully low due to my wife's husband's screw-up in not recharging it last night, but currently we have Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's duet on "Summertime:"
NexTec Group has announced that Silver Cup Coffee, a boutique coffee roaster headquartered in the Seattle area -- now there's a unique business setup -- has selected Microsoft Dynamics GP as its new business management product and NexTec Group's Seattle office to implement the product.
Silver Cup Coffee has been using Everest, an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that does not support its manufacturing or point-of-sale operations.
"We sought a single-source product," said Scott Martin, director of operations and information technology for Silver Cup Coffee. "We wanted one software system for accounting, manufacturing, point-of-sale, and distribution functions. It's difficult to find a single software system that broad."
As a food product manufacturer, Silver Cup Coffee must comply with governmental regulations including the Bioterrorism Act of 2002. Microsoft Dynamics GP is expected to help the company meet its compliance requirements with lot tracking capabilities and chain-of-custody support.
Founded in 1995, Silver Cup Coffee won seven awards at the McCormick & Schmick's coffee competition, including Best Cup (Overall Winner).
Intuit Consulting has announced the availability of its specialist skills routing product, PER, as a software-as-a-service model. Company officials say they believe it is the first in its industry to make this particular business model available to customers.
Tom Pienaar, Director at Intuit Consulting, said he thinks SaaS is a good fit for the current business climate. "Contact center managers seem to like the all inclusive rental concept because they're not tied in to lengthy contracts or technologies. The set-up costs are low, and the total cost is also much cheaper as it allows for fluctuating CSR headcount and call volumes," he noted.
Intuit Consulting is also hoping that the flexibility of its PER SaaS offering will prove attractive to the customer service sector: "While enterprise licenses are rich with functionality such as ability- based routing and customer call back, the SaaS model allows the contact center manager to be more selective about the features they use and pay for," company officials say.
"Call centers are extremely time sensitive operations," Pienaar noted. "Even the shortest of hold-ups in customer service or call handling can be costly. The product is our 'Internal SaaS' deployment, where all the advantages of the SaaS model are maintained with a local black-boxed delivery."
Opera Software has announced that Archos, a consumer electronics manufacturer, has selected the Opera browser for devices to complete its new line of Internet Media Tablets, the Archos 5, 5g and 7.
The Opera 9 browser is available free of charge to Archos customers and will automatically be activated upon device registration. Opera has long been a feature on the Archos line of portable video players, including the Archos 604 WiFi, 605 WiFi and 705 WiFi.
When surfing on the Archos 5, 5g and 7, users will have to option to connect via WiFi or over their cellular 3G network if they have a subscription. Opera also comes bundled with Flash 9.0 in this delivery.
Users of the Archos Internet Media Tablets will get the newly-included ARM processor, as well as the ability to download and use Widgets. Widgets for Archos include instant access to services such as weather forecast, news, currency and unit converters and a calculator.
Archos 7, with a seven-inch screen, will be available in October, and Archos 5g, a 30 GB hard drive with a high-resolution 5-inch screen, later this year.
High/Lowlights from the 2008 Australian Contact Center Industry Benchmarking Study. The study conducted in July and August 2008 by specialist research and news organization, callcenters.net was sponsored by Autonomy etalk and Zintel:
The Australian Contact Center industry generated AU$45 billion in revenue over the last 12 months.
The reliance on contact centers as a primary sales channel increased with 77 percent of all customer interactions being handled by an organization's contact center, compared to only 6 percent (a decrease from 8 percent in 2007) of all customer interactions being handled by the traditional sales force.
The contact center industry continues to grow in terms of seats but saw some consolidation of the number of individual centers in Australia. The total number of seats rose 6 percent, or by 10,927 seats, in 2007-08. There are now an estimated 190,927 seats at 3,821 centers (a decrease from 3,850 centers in 2007) operated by 1,806 companies.
Most contact center activity involves providing customer service (56 percent), but a significant proportion relates to profit generating sales activities. Among those surveyed, 95 percent of all revenue generated has been from up-selling and cross-selling to customers on inbound calls, with only 5 percent of revenue generated from proactive outbound or telemarketing calls.
"It appears that the primary sales channel for Australian organizations is now the contact center, which may signal the complete demise of the traditional field-based sales force which handles only 6 percent of customer interactions," said Dr. Catriona Wallace, Managing Director, callcenters.net.
The average outbound conversion rate for telemarketing campaigns in the last 12 months was 23 percent, while the average inbound conversion rate for up-sell or cross-sell campaigns was 22 percent.
Full-time agent turnover surged from 35 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2008, with higher attrition rates in the transport and freight sectors, and in large contact centers with more than 100 seats.
"Ninety-four per cent of organizations reported that the Do Not Call Register made no impact on their contact center's headcount, while 90 percent reported that it made no impact on its gross revenue," said Wallace.
Contact center operating budgets increased by 12 percent from 2007 to 2008, predominantly driven by rising HR costs. The average annual salary for a contact center manager rose 12 percent in the year.
Contact centers plan to spend an average of $260,854 purchasing new technology and $149,535 upgrading and replacing technology in the coming year. This amounts to an average spend of $410,389 per center on technology -- a decrease of 20 percent on 2007.
In the next 12 months, 23 percent of contact centers plan to invest in customer relationship management (CRM) tools. In addition, 20 percent plan to invest in workforce management tools and 20 percent plan to invest in a call (voice only) system.
An average of 56 percent of customers who use contact centers reported an overall satisfaction with their experience, according to the center managers surveyed. 51 percent said they were likely to recommend the center or company.
Microsoft and Alisoft have announced that they will provide hosted business-class e-mail service running on the Microsoft Hosted Exchange platform, targeted at China's more than 40 million small and medium enterprises.
The SMEs will be integrated with Alisoft's flagship product "E Wang Da Jin" for SMEs.
This initiative follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed in April 2007 by Microsoft and Alisoft, which stated that both companies would "pursue strategic co-operation in the informationization of SMEs."
Using the online software service platform built by Alisoft, the business-class e-mail service will be offered to SMEs in China through a software-as-a-service model.
Alisoft E Wang Da Jin is described by the Alisofties as "China's first business management tool of its kind" with e-commerce and online software services. The product has customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management.
In March Jia Juan, an analyst with CCID Consulting, said the launch of enterprise hosted e-mail service as SaaS in China presents "better business opportunities for Microsoft, especially with SMEs."