By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the second cup of coffee this morning, and the music is Alan Jackson's gospel album, Precious Memories. Recorded originally as a favor to his mother, who had been nagging him for years to do a gospel album, it was passed around to friends who urged him to release it commercially. Consequently there's a nice, easy, relaxed feel to the music, like Jackson chanced across a piano in an empty church, opened the hymnal and played some songs and somebody happened to tape it:
Inquisite, a vendor of Web-based software for collecting, understanding and managing feedback from customers and employees, has announced best practices for increasing customer retention through the use of Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) software.
EFM, company officials say, is "a class of software that secures and simplifies the collection and analysis of survey data," delivering an understanding of an organization's customers.
Inquisite's EFM software platform lets users distribute customer surveys, and deliver the findings to appropriate individuals in the organization. "Inquisite software transforms surveying from a single-event data collection process into an automated, ongoing discipline that continuously collects and monitors customer experiences," company officials say.
The Commerce Department's recently reported slowdown in consumer spending "confirmed the economic sluggishness many businesses already felt," Inquisite officials believe, "and reinforced the need for customer retention."
The products lets users consolidate survey data in a centralized database where it can be integrated with information provided by other customer-facing applications, such as CRM platforms, "creating a holistic view of the customer's history and level of satisfaction," in company officials' words.
Users can also respond quickly to negative customer feedback by automating the initial reply, which gives an organization time to investigate the problem's source and react.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Inquisite sells Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) software and services.
NTG Clarity Networks, which sells network, IT and infrastructure products has announced that it has received a business process re-engineer Letter Of Intent for a project with a telecom operator in the Middle East Gulf area.
NTG will provide "a range of consulting and re-engineering services in support of the implementation of a new CRM and billing system," company officials say. Specific services will involve functional process improvement, assessment and analysis, requirements prototyping and testing.
The LOI is estimated to be worth over $3 million. Work will start immediately.
This work will be performed by NTG's Systems Engineering and BPR Division and involves approximately 12 BPR specialists. NTG works in BPR and operates a dedicated Business Process Re-engineering group.
BrightSide Software has launched its beta version of Clienteq, described by company officials as a client service tool for professional services firms.
Clienteq is a Web-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) client service tool for professional services organizations, pitched mostly to consulting, legal, accounting, advertising, and research firms.
It's an open-to-clients collaborative environment enabling automation of typical client service workflows, such as status reports, meeting minutes, feedback/approval tracking and timesheets. It's designed to help professional services firms offer a more reliable and transparent service, spending less effort on daily routine procedures.
"The biggest pain for professional services firms is maintaining the high standards of day-to-day client service," said Dimitri Lisitski, co-founder of BrightSide. "That's why traditional CRM tools built around the sales automation concept failed for this vertical. We've turned CRM inside out, opening it to clients."
In Clienteq, Lisitski says, "your team and your client's team can share and discuss documents, track feedback and action items, publish meeting minutes, fill timesheets and track the billing process. We designed Clienteq to become the ultimate client service tool that raises the bar for client service standards."
Interested companies may apply to the early access program. The public release of Clienteq is planned for December 2008.
At its third annual QuickBooks Enterprise User Conference, Intuit has announced plans for its latest product for mid-market businesses, the Intuit Enterprise Suite.
The suite will be a single location for customers to access online applications connected with Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise, to "increase collaboration and productivity across back- and front-office functions," company officials say.
The first phase will be delivered this fall with the availability of applications that address inventory, field service and sales management.
Angus Thomson, vice president and general manager of Intuit's Mid-Market Group, said connecting the customer, vendor and employee data contained in QuickBooks with new online applications "gives mid-market businesses access to information that can be applied to jobs far beyond accounting."
Mid-market businesses are increasingly looking for ways to collaborate and grow their businesses, company officials believe, adding that "many businesses are forced to select and integrate disparate point solutions to effectively manage their operations.
Applications currently under development include the Intuit Field Service Management ES, an application powered by Corrigo to enable service businesses to manage and schedule service calls and appointments for their mobile workforce.
Intuit Warehouse Management ES, described by company officials as "a system powered by AccuCode to help product-based businesses get more from their inventory by tracking the items they have, where they are housed among multiple warehouse locations and how to get them to their customers."
Intacct, a vendor of on-demand financial management and accounting applications, and QuickArrow, which sells SaaS Services Automation, have announced they have partnered to integrate their products.
The result is a product offering what officials of both firms call "best-of-breed project management, resource management, financial management and accounting," to help services teams "increase agility and profitability."
In addition to integrating their Software as a Service applications, the two companies will use their networks to distribute the combined product throughout the services industry and also to additional industries "in which services success is essential."
Kevin Bury, QuickArrow CEO, said the days of the application software suite "are behind us. Suites evolved in the 90s as a trade off between best-of-breed functionality and a need to reduce integration complexity."
In today's SaaS world, however, "you no longer have to choose between the two."
Mike Braun, president and CEO of Intacct, called the alliance "part of our ongoing vision to create an open, on-demand ecosystem."
Intacct is headquartered in San Jose, with operations in Bangalore.
QuickArrow's SaaS product integrates with SFA, CRM, and financial applications, replacing homegrown products and labor-intensive spreadsheets to automate workflows and streamline operations.