By David Sims
David at firstcoffee d*t biz
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Rod Stewart's debut solo album, An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down, released in America as The Rod Stewart Album. A fine debut, it presaged what Rod would do better than anyone else in the 1970s: Blend folk, blues, country and straight ahead rock'n'roll with a sly wink and heartfelt singing:
Transera Communications has announced that Office Depot has adopted its cornerstone product, Seratel, as its contact center platform. By using an on-demand virtual contact center product, Office Depot officials say, they're able to reduce hold times, automate routine requests, and give customer service agents a 360-degree view of callers, providing "a more personalized customer experience."
By using Transera's software-as-a-service approach, Office Depot officials say they've minimized infrastructure expenses while benefiting from improved customer service levels.
"With Transera's Seratel product, we have improved the interaction experience of our customers while increasing operational efficiencies and internal productivity at the same time," said Kevin Buckley, Director of Operations for Office Depot's North American Business Solutions Division.
Office Depot officials say they're looking to use the Seratel product to diversify and grow their contact center operations with minimal technology investment, software installation or ongoing maintenance costs. Seratel officials say their product creates a virtual contact center capable of the necessary contact center functions, including call routing, centralized reporting, recording, monitoring, queuing and interactive voice response.
Seratel officials say agents need only an Internet connection and a phone to respond to customer calls. Supervisors manage and monitor operations in real-time from any Web browser.
"Transera's software-as-a-service model has increased Office Depot's business agility, minimized technology investments and improved their visibility and control over distributed contact center operations," said Prem Uppaluru, co-founder and CEO, Transera.
Sage Software has announced its President's Circle and Chairman's Club for 2008, two annual programs honoring what Sage officials say are the company's top-producing business partners.
"The results these business partners have achieved are impressive," said Nina Smith, Sage Software president, Business Management Division. President's Circle and Chairman's Club winners "truly deserve the honors," says Doug Meyer, Sage Software president, Industry & Specialized Solutions Division.
More than 82 Sage Software Business Partners earned the company's President's Circle designation for the company's 2008 fiscal year, which ran from October 1st, 2007 to September 30th, 2008. The top five, in alphabetical order, are Accordant Company of Whippany, New Jersey, Alliance Solutions Group of Brandon, Florida, Blytheco of Laguna Hills, California, Infinity Info Systems Corporation of New York City and MIS Group of Dallas.
Twenty Chairman's Club members were also determined based on their performance during the company's 2008 fiscal year. This designation recognizes Sage Software Business Partners who develop "an exceptional level" of new business with Sage Software, as defined via sales and marketing programs.
Chairman's Club members receive a variety of benefits and attend an annual business retreat with Sage Software executives.
There are three new awards given in 2008 for Sage Software Business Management Division Business Partners or Certified Consultants who have "garnered President's Circle status by achieving the highest Net Promoter Scores from their clients in the Division's new Customer Loyalty Project contest," according to Sage officials.
The inaugural winner in the Customer Relationship Management category is Gold Coast Advisors of Chicago, for Mid-Market Accounting Solutions it's Howard & Company of Raymond, New Hampshire and for Entry-Level Accounting Solutions it's Phase One Computing, Pompano Beach, Florida.
Introduced in 1999 by author Fred Reichheld, Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Bain & Company, Net Promoter is a methodology using a scoring process to determine which customers would highly recommend a product, service or company, and then a percentage is computed based upon the scores achieved to determine the final Net Promoter Score.
Apatar, which sells open source software aimed at the data integration market, has officially announced connectivity to the SugarCRM open source suite.
Apatar officials say the new SugarCRM connector is designed to integrate data between their customer relation management system and what company officials describe as "a variety of third-party data sources, allowing for this data to be filtered, validated, and cleansed."
One feature Apatar officials are playing up is their drag-and-drop interface -- the SugarCRM connector does not require coding skills and can be deployed by almost any business user.
Apatar officials refer to an Aberdeen Group study which found that "extracting and normalizing customer data from multiple sources is the biggest challenge with client data management." They don't specify exactly which Aberdeen report they're talking about; it's probably the 2006 study finding that "companies that achieve a return on investment from customer data management (CDM) come from different industries but have notable similarities," according to industry observer Hannah Smalltree.
In that report, author Leslie Ament, director of customer intelligence research with Aberdeen, said above-average and best-in-class companies attain greater than 20 percent annual improvement in retention rates, revenues, data accuracy and partner/customer satisfaction rates, according to Smalltree.
With the new SugarCRM connector, Apatar lets users link customer information between databases (such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL, Oracle), files (Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, CSV/TXT files), applications (good ol' Salesforce.com), and what company officials call "the top Web 2.0 destinations -- Flickr, Amazon S3, RSS feeds," et al.
Jenzabar, a vendor of software for higher education, has announced that Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts and Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina have upgraded to the Jenzabar EX enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to "increase operational efficiency and better meet the expectations of constituents," such as alumni and parents, the Jenzabarbarians say.
The Jenzabar EX administrative system is a product aimed squarely at higher education, providing a relational database offered on the Microsoft SQL Server platform. Gordon College officials said they wanted to revamp the school's current technological infrastructure to improve reporting capabilities, streamline workflows and obtain real-time data.
"Our Jenzabar implementations were completed simultaneously across departments, allowing all offices to go live at the same time," says Dan Tymann, Executive Vice President for Advancement, Communications and Technology at Gordon College, adding that "incorporating an ERP system can be a large shock to an organization."
Jenzabar EX is fully integrated with Jenzabar's Internet Campus Solution (JICS), an Internet portal offering a single point of access to Web-based self service, e-learning, communications and community-building applications. With the two upgrades, Gordon College now has the ability to track correspondence with prospective students, monitor efficiencies in admissions, run student bills in a fraction of the time, and use advancement opportunities that might have been lost previously.
Similarly, Columbia College, recently recognized for exceeding national averages by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), was seeking to move forward with new initiatives by utilizing data to support institutional performance, both inside and outside of the classroom. The college at the time was using a Datatel system and needed a technology provider that would offer comprehensive training to decrease the staff hours dedicated to the database and recover confidence in the system campus-wide.
"At Columbia College, we put a strong emphasis on trust and expect that from our partners," says Laurie Hopkins, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Columbia College. "The Jenzabar team brings a high level of trust and delivers everything they promise. Systems were configured to work specifically for our institution and our staff received on-campus training, empowering them to use the product and focus on other aspects of their job."
With the implementation of Jenzabar EX, the central database has integrated student information and administrative data across all offices, simplifying operations for all constituents. Columbia College students now experience easier self-service functions, including registering for courses, viewing class information, checking current billing information, and chatting with classmates. The business offices, including financial aid, accounts receivable, human resources and the registration office, have quickly adapted to the system, resulting in more accurate information and effective reporting. Further, the executive team can now access data without assistance, enabling them to view campus information and analyze records on demand from their own desktops and at their convenience.
"Maximizing our client's return on investment is our ultimate goal, and we are dedicated to determining the best way to achieve that objective with each and every client," says Robert A. Maginn, Jr., Jenzabar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Providing software products is just the beginning of our commitment to our customers. We understand that excellent implementation services are critically important to our clients, and we will continue to work with Gordon College and Columbia College to support their institutional success."
eTrigue today announced the general availability of eTrigue 3.0, the intelligent demand generationTM application designed to align marketing and sales' efforts to develop and identify hot leads and close sales faster.
eTrigue launched the original eTrigue application three years ago and since then has been serving customers worldwide including start-ups ramping first revenue and Fortune 500 firms including Cisco Systems.
"For the past three years we've been working closely with a solid base of loyal customers to develop the features that allow them to drive sales faster and with greater consistency," said Jim Meyer, vice president and general manager at eTrigue Corporation. "Working with best-in-class marketing and sales organizations has allowed us to design-in new features including 3-D lead scoring, real-time lead alerts and eTrigue for AppExchange with a focus on driving sales."
"eTrigue is an indispensible part of our marketing organization, ensuring that only the best prospects make it into our sales pipeline," said Jeff Aaron, vice president, worldwide marketing, Silver Peak Systems. "With eTrigue's real-time prospect-based Web tracking, we get fast and accurate information on the hottest leads, enabling us to act quickly and with the highest possible precision."