By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the second cup of coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin duets, current selection "Well Did You Evah?:"
Enterprise communications vendor Thunderhead has announced the NOW Context Engine, described by company officials as "a new core component of Thunderhead NOW 4.0 platform."
The NOW Context Engine is a scalable XML repository designed to archive document and correspondence content as it is processed by the NOW platform to produce multi-channel customer communications.
Thunderhead's Context Engine is a new component designed to "improve both the context and relevancy of customer communications generated by the NOW platform," according to the Thunderheads. The XML data captured by the Context Engine represents a complete history of the Thunderhead-generated customer communications, including embedded promotions, offers and other marketing-related content.
With the NOW Context Engine, this historical information can be used to shape the content of future customer communications. The new module will also integrate with existing customer information systems, giving users a view of customer data and optimize their investments in existing CRM technologies.
The NOW Context Engine will also form the core of Thunderhead's new analytic and management information functionality, company officials say: "Communication data stored in the Context Engine will be available to various analytical tools, including Thunderhead's Analyze NOW components."
Thunderhead officials call the product "a strategic departure" from other document generation technologies.
"Traditionally, document generation vendors have focused on speed and scalability in attempting to meet the needs of larger enterprise organizations," said Thunderhead CEO Glen Manchester. "However, today's enterprises have moved beyond simple output management and are seeking broader, products that enable contextual, multi-channel customer engagement."
Thunderhead also announced that it has entered into an OEM agreement with IBM to embed its DB2 pureXML product in the NOW Context Engine. Thunderhead, as an XML-based technology, processes information in its native XML format.
The NOW Context Engine will be available in October 2008.
"In the last three months alone," company officials say, Bango has seen "a four-fold increase in the number of WAP transactions in the US."
Content providers including Gameloft and Dada Entertainment are selling their content using Bango's mobile billing relationships with AT&T Mobility, Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile, Bango officials say.
This means over 130 million subscribers on these networks can now pay for mobile content either per download or as a subscription. They charge it to their phone bill using the same browse and buy experience used on the PC Internet and their operator's deck.
Using WAP billing, customers can see the price and conditions of purchase before they click to pay. And, because users choose to buy content and then pay in one session, "there is little room for error as compared to the two-step Premium SMS process," the Bangovians say.
"The shift to WAP browse and buy is a response to the recent claims of inappropriate charging of consumers," said Anil Malhotra, SVP of Marketing at Bango.
WAP billing has refund levels of less than 0.1 percent, compared to levels approaching 10-20 percent where content is purchased with Premium SMS, Bango officials say, citing to research from iGillot.
"The mobile Web market is booming in the US -- 65 percent of all new phones purchased are now music-enabled," said Massimiliano Pellegrini, Chief Executive Officer, Dada Entertainment.
Element Customer Care has announced a multi-year contract with Maximus Multimedia International to provide high speed data and video on demand support to Maximus' 165,000 hotel rooms in more than 2,000 hotels.
Element's hotel Internet tech support provides around-the-clock call center services with nearly 300 trained technical service engineers currently supporting more than 450,000 hotel rooms.
"We are reorganizing and expanding our company," said Mike Harding, president and Chief Executive Officer of Maximus. "We are looking to our partnership with Element to fulfill the tech support and customer service aspects of our service delivery."
Element's hotel Internet support team has a call center with trained technical service engineers. The guest assistance team is made up of certified technicians who not only know how to fix technical problems, but "also recognizes how the hospitality industry needs to treat its guests," company officials say.
Element's Internet support engineers take more than 130,000 calls per month, providing hotels throughout the industry with toll free Internet support 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
IQMS, a vendor of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, has added French language capabilities to EnterpriseIQ, the company's ingle-source ERP product.
Broadening the comprehensive functionality it provides to global manufacturers, IQMS now supports eight languages, including: English, French, Spanish, German, Mandarin Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, and Swedish.
"To remain competitive and successful, companies around the world must optimize supply chain efficiency and quality," says Randy Flamm, president and founder of IQMS. "This often requires language translation across multiple plants and with suppliers, customers and outsourced services."
As a single-source package, EnterpriseIQ "is able to provide production data from the shop floor to the front office, in real time, no matter where in the world a facility is located," company officials say, adding that by equipping multiple locations with native language functionality, within one database, "decisions can be made quickly and with absolute communication across multiple plants and globally distributed networks with multiple languages and currencies to track."
Industry observer Chris Kanaracus
has reported that Microsoft has added Internet marketing features to its Dynamics CRM Online software, described by company officials as "the first in a series of planned updates for the set of hosted applications that the company launched earlier this year."
Microsoft officials said its addition of the technology will enable Dynamics CRM Online users to create search-based marketing campaigns, according to Kanaracus, and "capture sales leads from corporate Web sites and weigh the effectiveness of marketing campaigns from the standpoint of click-through and conversion rates, among other capabilities."
This would be the first update since Dynamics CRM Online's coming out party four months ago. Enhancements will be available to customers at no extra charge.
According to Microsoft officials, users will be able to create and manage online campaigns and gain an idea of the profit they are generating with click-through and conversion rates.
Industry observer Rosalie Marshall
said customers "can also test key words using search engine optimization, and capture sales leads from Web pages hosted by Microsoft or their own organization."
Noted CRM consultant Denis Pombriant, an analyst at Beagle Research Group, told Kanaracus that Microsoft must focus on features as well as cost as it tries to compete with Salesforce.com and other on-demand CRM sellers.
Microsoft's entry into Internet marketing "is very important for several reasons," Pombriant told Kanaracus: "First, it was a hole in the offering. And since big players like Salesforce have it and their customers depend on it for some of their market outreach, it would be impossible to pry customers away from Salesforce without such functionality."