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August 2009

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Dimension Data, RightNow, Opengear, Parrot Hands-Free, Magic and Salesforce.com, Hacky Christmas to You

August 31, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is one of the more inspired CD re-release twofers, The Beach Boys' Sunflower and Surf's Up. It's a minority opinion, but First Coffee finds Surf's Up the band's best album -- I know Pet Sounds is supposed to be, but I find it difficult to listen to that album all the way through:

Isn't speech self-service technology supposed to be improving? Why are the numbers of customers satisfied by it going down? Why do 40 percent of customers avoid using speech systems "whenever possible?"

Dimension Data, a vendor of IT products and services, has announced "disturbing feedback" regarding today's speech-based customer service systems -- in addition to the 40 percent who avoid speech systems like the plague, more than 2,000 respondents, 42 percent of the total, said they use the Internet instead of the phone, and only 25 percent of consumers reported they would be happy to use a speech-based customer service option again.

The vendor drew its findings from its 2009 Alignment Index for Speech Self-Service report, conducted in conjunction with Cisco and Microsoft subsidiary Tellme Networks.

OpenAir and NetSuite, TimeTrade, TeamSupport.com, ESecuritel, GoldMine, Intaglio, Oracle

August 21, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense. A total 1980s time capsule, but in a good way -- brought back some good times for First Coffee, living in Chicago, but that's another column:

OpenAir, a NetSuite company and vendor of cloud computing professional services automation and services resource planning software, has announced new customers from the Asia Pacific region -- AIPEX, Waugh Infrastructure Management, Fronde, and Matsco Solutions. 

Through cloud-based product upgrades and product offerings, OpenAir markets its advantages as providing "low total cost-of-ownership by eliminating the need for support staff and on-site server maintenance. 

AIPEX is a business and technology consulting firm based in Melbourne which "had no faith in their forecasting capabilities and limited visibility into the key metrics of the business," OpenAir officials said, adding that they integrated OpenAir with NetSuite for financials and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

New From Genesys, CCL Study, Fiserv, ISoBusy for IPhone, CoreMatrix, OrderDynamics

August 21, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a Frank Sinatra album we don't listen to much, 1962's Point of No Return. It's not great Sinatra, it's the last recordings he did for Capitol Records in a rushed two-day session, and apart from "As Time Goes By" and "September Song" there isn't much inspired here. But over the eight years prior to this he recorded his best work for Capitol and made them a boatload of money, so they can't complain about this album too much:

Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories officials have shared what they call "key breakthroughs" in Dynamic Customer Engagement, which go "beyond traditional customer service strategies to create an environment for customer service to engage at critical moments," they say.

Unlike what they call "traditional customer service, separated from the core of the business and too often regarded as a cost center designed to minimize overhead and quickly complete interactions," Dynamic Customer Engagement in the Genesys vision aims to "extend customer service beyond the contact center," and let enterprises "serve consumers who interact across multiple channels."

The announcements were made at a Genesys Asia-Pacific user conference in Melbourne.

Genesys officials discussed Service Delivery Optimization, "in which enterprises use intelligent Workload Distribution to virtualize customer service operations and improve productivity," designed to help "integrate branch offices, remote or home agents, mobile field employees and experts in the back office." 

Skyward for Schools, iPhone Deposit, Faith via Skype, Unified 360, Softtek, Shoot it!

August 13, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is one of the few Jimmy Buffett albums where the deep cuts are better than the hits, Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes. We've all heard "Margaritaville" and the title track, but the real gems are "Banana Republics," "Biloxi," "Landfall" and, well, okay, the title track:
  Skyward, a vendor of K-12 administrative software, has announced the upcoming release of their Web-based data warehouse application, billed as eliminating "any extract, transform, and load hassles."

  The application is configured to accept data elements from the Skyward School Management System to reduce the implementation time and save money. It also offers flexibility for "summative and longitudinal analysis," evidently a big deal for decision making as it lets one "quantify the effectiveness of educational programs within the district," Skyward officials say, and we'll take their word for that one.   The module provides an customizable, interactive dashboard for everyone, "from the superintendent to the teacher." 

So why design a native data warehouse instead of working with existing third-party ones available? "Customer needs," says Jon Oliver, Skyward Executive Vice President of Corporate Operations.

iPhone Shrink, Ascentis, Results CRM, Oracle, Sant and Salesforce.com, Consona and KCS

August 13, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a Bruce Cockburn iTunes shuffle. We don't listen to enough Bruce Cockburn around here. The trick is to separate the wheat from the chaff, the fun, thoughtful music from the shrill, tiresome screeds:

Here we go, another day another iPhone app. It might even be time for First Coffee to avail himself of an iPhone -- my birthday is coming up soon, hint hint to any Mrs. First Coffees reading this...

CustomerCentric, Avocent Upgrade, SaaS Study, LG Social Phone, SaaS CRM, RightNow

August 11, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is one of John Cage's more accessible recordings, Daughters Of the Lonesome Isle. The trick to appreciating Cage, as we've tried to explain to Mrs. First Coffee, is not to think of it as "music" per se, but rather as interesting thought-sound experiences using for the most part traditional instruments. We haven't convinced her. Nor are we likely to, we must admit:

CustomerCentric Selling, which describes itself as "a proven methodology for predictably improving revenue growth and sales performance," has announced that the unfortunately-acronymed Decision Dynamics Technology, which sells software products and services for financial controls, implemented the CustomerCentric Selling methodology earlier this year.

In February, Calgary-based Decision Dynamics officials say, they decided their primary challenge was "navigating through a sales culture that was product-centric and focused on selling features and functionality" instead of focusing on the product's value to clients.    Applying a customer-centric approach lets Decision Dynamics' sales force have "meaningful conversations" with customers as "business improvement consultants rather than salespeople," which then allows them to address their customers' business pains.

SugarCRM, Telework Day, Symmetry and SAP, SunGard, Call Center Jobs, Parallels

August 11, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Miles Davis's mind-blowing album "A Tribute to Jack Johnson," which I guess technically is a jazz album, but which rocks harder than most other albums released in 1971. Thanks to Mikal Gilmore for introducing me to it:

SierraCRM has released the newest version of its process management engine for the open source SugarCRM.    This latest release is described by company officials as a way to help users "capture more new business" and create a "customer-for-life" environment. If you think your business would benefit from that sort of thing.

  "Companies are striving to get to know their existing customers better and market to new customers more effectively," SierraCRM officials believe, saying that their Process Manager product lets users model company best practices for acquiring and retaining customers through automated workflow.

RFID Tightens, AnchorFree, BT's Marks, Seapine's TestTrack, Kentico, OtterBox

August 7, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and it's a Friday kind of day, clearing out the odds and ends from the news wires, things a bit more wide-ranging than straight CRM, and the music, appropriately, is an iTunes all-song shuffle, first selection, The Ramones' "Rock 'n' Roll High School:"
The drop in exports has dealt a blow to the radio frequency identification market, according to research firm Frost & Sullivan, forcing manufacturers to "take drastic measures to stay afloat."   Analysis from Frost & Sullivan on the Asia Pacific RFID market finds that the market earned revenues of $569.7 million in 2008 and estimates this to reach $2.17 billion in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 21.1 percent.   Most RFID manufacturers have tightened their budgets on technology-related investments,  the study also found, "creating further hurdles to product uptake." The high capital costs and system integration issues deter vendors and retailers, the study found: "RFID companies should not fail to justify the business return on investment in their eagerness to focus on technology," the study's authors caution.

The bright spot, evidently, for the RFID market is government, in the form of direct funding for vendor initiatives or subsidies to end users intending to adopt this technology. Frost & Sullivan's research also found that governments provide encouragement schemes in proof of concepts and pilot projects.

"The Japanese and South Korean governments have promoted extensive research in RFID to keep track of their high-valued assets," says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Parul Oswal, adding that South Korea is "more aggressive than others."

There has also been increasing government sector potential for active RFID deployments in Australia, and more government-backed initiatives and deployments are expected to be rolled out in the next five years across Asia Pacific.

The study found "huge potential for newer applications," where vendors need to demonstrate the uniqueness and innovation of their systems and their ability to provide an appropriate solution to a specific problem. Other integration technologies include RFID with closed circuit television (CCTV), smart cards, biometrics, and other access control systems. ...
With what AnchorFree officials characterize as "growing censorship and political tensions around the world," Internet users may be interested in a free online privacy and security tool called Hotspot Shield to access the Internet "freely and safely."

  The product is a free ad-supported virtual private network guaranteeing users complete privacy and security online. Available on desktop computers, laptops and iPhones, it establishes a secure tunnel between a user's computer and Internet connection, encrypting entire Web sessions to keep IP addresses protected and the user anonymous. 

  This means third party Web sites and Internet Service Providers cannot block or censor Internet content.

SugarCRM and Microsoft, NetSuite and Fujitsu, Sage and Rand, Free Kayako, Intelestream, DisputeSuite

August 7, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Tom Waits's Rain Dogs. Yesterday was a Sinatra kind of day, today's a Tom Waits kind of day. What can I say? These things happen:
  In what Microsoft officials characterized as "a continued effort to show support for open source technology," The House That Bill Built made SugarCRM Community Edition available for free download on the Windows Web App Gallery.

  The Microsoft Web Platform is a Microsoft framework for developing, deploying and hosting Web applications.

iPhone Workout, Convergys, Sword Ciboodle, Zumasys, Acquirelists CRM, iPhone Church?

August 5, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra's greatest album, Sinatra's Swingin' Session. Made in 1961 it sounds a whole lot like Sinatra taking on rock 'n' roll, it's his hardest-swinging album ever:

Trimble is offering an iPhone app, the Trimble AllSport GPS for the iPhone 3G, designed to help users "manage their personal fitness regimens," according to company officials.

The application is pitched to those who enjoy such outdoor activities as walking, running, hiking, cycling, mountain biking and snowboarding, as it can track exercise activity by monitoring time, speed, calories burned, and distance traveled during outdoor workouts.

  It costs a one-time $9.99 fee. Buy it through the Health & Fitness category in the iPhone App Store.

  It can also download map images and recommended routes to somebody via their iPhone, which probably isn't as big a deal if you're on the StairMaster at the gym, but could be distinctly more useful if you're doing triathlon road training.
Users can also download content from Bicycling and Backpacker magazines, "store favorite outdoor workout routes" and "share fitness progress with friends and family."
Trimble officials say that through the Trimble Outdoors Web site, "AllSport GPS subscribers can also view and analyze workouts, upload and recommend routes and workout plans, and customize trips taken by others."
And for those who need some serious competitive juice to get up for a workout, you can send workouts to your iPhone and "race" against someone else on the same program. ...

Convergys officials have announced that Sterling Home Retention Services, a provider of loss mitigation services for the financial services industry, has signed a contract for Convergys' relationship management tools, specifically to "support the loan modification process for the mortgage servicers, Government Sponsored Enterprises, and investors in the U.S."

  "Many borrowers today are defaulting on their loans and are facing the possibility of foreclosure as the current economic crisis continues its hold on the housing market," says Jim Boyce, Convergys President, Global Business Units.
Requests for loan modifications and refinancing are at an all time high, imagine that.

SugarCRM, RIAS, Integrify SaaS, ATSI and ACA, ORCS Web, iPhone and POT

August 5, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is a weird album from 1968, The Zombies' "Odessey and Oracle."   You've heard the one hit from the album, "Time of the Season," the rest of it sounds like a decent pop band trying to cross Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper, as so many albums of that moment did. Listening to Odessey and Oracle, especially solid tracks like "A Rose For Emily" and "Hung Up On A Dream," one thinks "Man, these guys were good, why were they messing around with this overproduction, dubbing in flutes and harpsichords, and not just doing what they did best -- straight-ahead smart pop?"

Veon has announced the launch of a Territory Management product on the SugarCRM platform.

Officials of the Hyderabad-based firm say they believe Sales Force Automation products are "the need of the hour for organizations with distributed marketing geographies." Using the tool, they say, regional sales teams can "keep lock-step with one another when collaborating."

The idea behind Territory Management, Veon officials explain, is so managers can gain "an up-to-the minute view of their individual territory pipeline from the highest level to the most granular." Territory management "develops and implements a strategy for directing selling activities toward customers in a sales territory aimed at maintaining the lines of communications, improving sales coverage, and minimizing wasted time." Functionality for the product, therefore, includes the allocation of sales calls to customers and the planning, routing, scheduling of the calls and similar options.

The TM product, using the SugarCRM platform, is easy set up and assign territories, Veon officials say, adding that it's designed to simplify territory realignments after sales reorganizations, eliminate lag time in lead assignment and "plan effectively for avoiding losing sales to better organized competitors."

It also claims capability for "minimizing distractions and procrastination," which for First Coffee alone would be worth the price of admission. And of course it includes the more prosaic functions, such as maintaining contact with key prospects and accounts and helping find ways to improve users' return on investment (ROI) and reduce turn-around time.

Here at First Coffee we write a lot about how to improve your customer service, it's nice to recognize companies who are, in fact, doing it well. So a tip of the coffee pot to insurance provider RIAS, which sells to the over-50 demographic, for being named a finalist in customer service categories in two industry awards -- the UK Broker Awards and the CCF European Call Center Awards.

This is the third time in two months RIAS has been recognized for its customer service, company officials say, explaining that these latest two accolades come "hot on the heels of RIAS being announced as a finalist in the 'Customer Care Award' category at the 2009 British Insurance Awards" in June.
As a finalist in the 'Customer Service Provider' category for the 2009 UK Broker Awards, RIAS was noted for its "customer-centric culture and service innovation," including the launch of Voice of the Customer, an online system allowing all colleagues to feed customer comments directly into the system.

The 2009 CCF European Call Center Awards put RIAS in the "Best Centre for Customer Service" category against teams from all over Europe.

Portrait in Scotland, SprinxCRM, iBabyBuddy, TRM RulesManager, Jenzabar's Newest, Jailhouse Phone

August 5, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the cool piano jazz of Bill Evans. Sometimes mistaken for wallpaper music, this is, in fact, highly accomplished unshowy playing -- there's a reason Miles Davis wanted him for the "Kind of Blue" sessions:

Portrait Software, a vendor of customer interaction software, has announced that VisitScotland, the national tourism agency, increased revenues through the use of Portrait Customer Analytics to the tune of £48 million.   PCA, delivered as a hosted service through Optima Value Group, is credited by officials of the tourism board with increasing the revenue in the Scottish tourism industry "by £48 million in one year alone," or $80 million. That figure is evidently calculated from independent market research referenced by VisitScotland officials, who say it represents the value of trips by visitors who claim they would not have visited without prompting from marketing.
The agency wants to give Scotland "a real presence in the global marketplace,"benefiting the whole of Scotland." Agency officials say their priorities are to "attract visitors to Scotland, engage with partners within the industry and to add value to the visitor experience." An upwards of 200 campaigns a year are now processed through the managed service, Portrait officials say.

  If the goal for Scotland is to attract visitors, then as one with experience of the British isles, may First Coffee suggest doing something about the weather.

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