The news as of the first cup of coffee this morning, and the music is Al Stewart's "Down In the Cellar," a better-than-it-should-be 2000 collection of songs centered loosely around the theme of wine, from oenophile Stewart:
CRM vendor NetSuite
has announced a plan for customers doing business in the United Kingdom who need to respond to the recent changes in value-added tax rates announced by the British government a couple weeks ago.
In a good bit of news the revision reduces the standard VAT rate from 17.5 percent to 15 percent as of yesterday, requiring businesses to adjust their systems to comply. Using the NetSuite Tax Engine integrated within the NetSuite business management software suite, NetSuite customers can reconfigure to comply with the new rate without waiting for updates or software patches, according to the NetSuiters.
The British government's recent decision to reduce the standard VAT rate by 2.5 percent as part of the economic stimulus package left most businesses "with little time to adjust to the changed rate, adding to the compliance challenge," NetSuite officials say, adding that the ability of SaaS-based products to respond to changing business conditions in near real-time "trumps older generation, on-premise packaged software."
And of course NetSuite officials can't resist throwing an elbow or two: "In the case of this recent VAT change, vendors of packaged software products, such as Sage and Microsoft Great Plains, are no doubt scrambling to distribute updates and coordinate consistent direction through a myriad of distribution channels."
Not that this is an everyday concern: "Changes to UK VAT rates are relatively infrequent," acknowledged Craig Sullivan, Vice President of International Products for NetSuite.
Both UK businesses and global businesses with sales operations in the UK will be impacted by the VAT rate change. NetSuite customers can create a new tax code within NetSuite that reflects the new 15 percent rate with an effective date of 1 December 2008, then apply this new tax code to their catalogue of items sold using either mass-editing tools, or the graphical Import Assistant if a large number of items are involved, company officials say.
NetSuite Customer Support is also staffed with accounting compliance specialists to address customers' questions.
Every once in a while a company nails the opening sentence in a news advisory: "Getting lost in London is inevitable."
According to new research commissioned by Nokia
, there are more people getting lost in London than anywhere else in the world, including cities like Bangkok and Beijing, which are nearly twice the size of London.
Amen. Is there any more confusing major world city except Tokyo - which if it wasn't in the Top Five probably wasn't included in the study, First Coffee suspects. Anglophone First Coffee lived in Istanbul for a number of years and found it easier to get around than London.
The findings are part of a global study, one of the largest navigation studies to date, where 12,500 people in 13 countries world were quizzed about their sense of direction and navigational habits. Research found that one in ten people find it impossible to navigate around London, followed closely by Paris (nine percent), Bangkok (five percent), Hong Kong (five percent) and Beijing (four percent), making up the top five "lost cities" on the planet.
Moreover, when lost in London be wary of asking the locals for directions, as one in three Londoners admit to deliberately giving people the wrong directions.
More than 25 percent of people surveyed rely on online and mobile navigation tools to find their way around. More specifically, 13 percent of people use a mobile phone as their primary navigation tool, the study found "from a zero base just a few years ago."
The country with the world's best sense of direction is Germany, where a third of people claim to have never lost their way. No data were provided to show how many of these Germans had been to London. Or Munich. Or Tokyo. Nokia sees it as "unsurprising" that Germany is "also the country with the highest reliance on satellite navigation."
One in ten women in the study admits to not being able to read a traditional map, twice the number of men. No data provided for how many women admit to actually consulting a map when lost, versus the number of men who will admit to doing so.
Other fun findings: Thirty percent of people blame their partners for getting lost, either because they were fighting or shouting directions at them. One in ten Brazilians say they've missed out on a date because they got lost en route. One in ten Spaniards believe a sense of direction matures with age, like fine wine, and fully half of the Chinese "depend on personal interaction for directions en route" - i.e. "When you get to the corner ask someone else."
The study found that Brits prefer to use local pubs to signpost directions , whereas the Chinese typically use skyscrapers to give directions. And as the old Saturday Night Live sketch correctly noted, New Englanders use Dunkin' Donuts locations as landmarks.
Datelined "Paderborn, Germany/ Kiev, Ukraine" comes the news that Ukrainian operator Astelit has selected Orga Systems' charging and billing system OPSC Gold.
The Orga system was chosen by the Astelitians for their billing system in part, the Organians say, for its capacity as a real-time charging and billing system on a single platform to support more than 12 million subscribers.
Astelit officials say they want to be able to offer "next generation services in real-time, to all customers, on a single platform and database for all types of subscribers, prepaid, postpaid or paid in advance."
Caveat: The name of the Astelit service or operator might actually be "Astelit, life:)." Honestly with the way the news from either Paderborn or Kiev is worded, it's difficult to tell.
Orga Systems' OPSC Gold allows the entity referred to as "Astelit, life:)" to launch services "with a very aggressive time to market," according to Orga officials,who describe OPSC Gold as a "configurable system making every service available to any type of subscriber."
"With Astelit's decision for Orga Systems' convergent billing system OPSC Gold, SCP for voice call control, MCP for data charging, wIQ for Customer Self Care Services via USSD/SMS, and OVSC," Orga officials say, "the Orga Voucher Service Center, an end-to-end real-time charging and billing product, with a consolidated architecture was achieved."
Migrating the whole customer base of more than 12 million subscribers and all related tariffs let Astelit offer "more sophisticated hybrid tariffs," Astelit officials say, saying it allowed "combining pre and postpaid payment methods for new offerings, including promotions and loyalty campaigns boosting the brand's attractiveness and awareness."
Another positive effect seen was a strong consolidation of multi-platforms, which were in place for different services.
Interactive Intelligence officials say the firm has signed an Elite Partner agreement with Pinacl Solutions, a managed services company selling to government and education.
Under the terms of the agreement, Pinacl Solutions will sell Interactive Intelligence's contact center automation and enterprise IP telephony products and services throughout the UK, and will be certified to provide "full-scale services and support for all the company's products."
No financial details of the agreement were disclosed.
A couple weeks ago Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence said it added short message service as an additional media type to its all-in-one multi-channel contact center software suite, Customer Interaction Center.
The communications software Interactive offers "will allow Pinacl to provide IP communications products," says Rob Bardwell, managing director for Pinacl Solutions, adding that Interactive Intelligence's single-platform, modular architecture, "with both traditional TDM and SIP-based switching ACD, IVR, unified messaging, predictive dialing, multimedia recording," can address "any call center or enterprise requirement."
Pinacl Solution's managed services approach "complements our software and our targeted business development model," said Dave Paulding, regional sales manager UK & Africa for Interactive Intelligence.
Now that's the first time this reporter's heard of that particular sales territory designation.