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

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

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

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... where were we... oh yeah.

Think Like a Shrink is today's iPhone app described as "a therapy game for the iPhone and iPod Touch" that lets you "play doctor like never before," according to its developers, Mind Gamz.

It's going to be one of those days, I can tell already.

"Think Like a Shrink is the first true interactive therapy game with a narrative structure," says Mind Gamz Director Glennis McClellan, noting that "prior to this, psychology and mental health games consisted mostly of personality tests and quizzes."

But vive la difference: "With Think Like a Shrink, players are invited to conduct their own therapy sessions.." Couches not included: "Instead of the traditional therapy office setting, players travel back through time with Doctor Z, the game's zany resident therapist, to examine the inner conflicts of Achilles, a troubled warrior."

Just like in real life, at least the real life of shrinks anyway, "Achilles' words are veined with clues to problems and patterns that the player must identify, question and interpret." Throughout the game, players "interact with Achilles and help him get clarification on his life issues, perhaps giving players insight into their own relationships."

Hint: Ask about his heel.

"We are breaking new ground here," McClellan says, and First Coffee certainly isn't arguing. There's more, too, once you've got Achilles figured out: Mind Gamz, company officials say, "will expand this brain game genre into 'Emotional Fitness,' which can give players new insight into human behavior."

The product design team worked with a couple of psychiatrists, including C.L. Zois, M.D., author of the self-help book Think Like a Shrink and the text Short-Term Therapy Techniques.

"It's as close to mind reading as most people will ever get," say the game's developers, people who have obviously never been on a third date.

Ascentis, which sells human resources software, has announced that Illinois-based Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators -- cute acronym -- has invested in Ascentis HR to automate such human resources processes as open enrollment, employee benefits and data management, COBRA management and asset tracking.

JULIE HR Manager Laura Donahue said she was "struggling with manual HR processes and paper-based files for two and a half years." Before implementing Ascentis HR, she had to "pull data from multiple sources, including the benefits management system, a time-clock system, and reports from payroll."

But the work was just starting: She then had to manually integrate, edit and organize the information -- "and hope it was accurate. It could take up to two days to do something as a simple as verify employment status," she said. "And something as straightforward as a turnover report required manual payroll check counts."

JULIE -- and Laura -- needed an HRIS product that could manage functions such as compensation, performance, COBRA, leave, monthly reconciliation, organizational charting, reporting, payroll integration and electronic connections to carriers. But, "because of limited IT resources," they also required a hosted product. 

Now with Ascentis HR, all JULIE HR information is now in one place, and accessible with a mouse click or two. "Reports that used to take hours are now produced in minutes," Donahue said, and with Ascentis's Employee Self-Service, she can push out benefits information, as well as grocery and health club memberships.

The fun didn't stop there, though. With the customizable capabilities of Ascentis HR, Donahue added a screen that tracks company assets. "The finance department went crazy over this feature," she said. "I created a tab I labeled 'asset management' and captured data about who is assigned what computer and the date of the assignment. I can add or change any field quickly. I no longer have to track this manually, and I simply run a report whenever it's requested."

Ascentis HR and Ascentis Payroll were formerly known as HROffice and EBS On Line's InstaPay respectively.

Results International, a CRM vendor, has announced the availability of Virtual Media Commentators -- online videos billed as helping "turn more Web site visitors into sales" by company officials. 

It's video, which can help gussy up the site -- According to Thompson Reuters, studies show that before making a decision, consumers visit an average of four to five Web sites -- but only two when the site contains a video.

And you can choose from "a vast array of professional actors" or have somebody in-house do the online videos. And hey, Tom Cruise's agent's number is in the book, too.
The commentators greet site visitors and communicate the value propositions you want surfers to see regarding products and services, as well as guide potential customers to fill in Web forms or contact an organization to make an inquiry.

It's being marketed as a way to bring "high impact TV quality online videos within reach of small to medium size organizations." The VMC technology includes capabilities to rotate different Virtual Media Commentator messages on each site.

According to Christopher Whittier, Results International's Manager of Corporate Solutions, every site visitor asks themselves four questions before choosing to contact a firm: "Do I trust them? What is in it for me? Do I believe them? And, what should I do next?" With text only sites, Whittier said, a visitor can lose interest "if they cannot find that information within thirty seconds" of hitting a site. 

The Virtual Media Commentators, Whittier explained, can answer "at least two of the four questions within the first five seconds of a site visit, orient the visitor and encourage them to contact the firm."

Enhanced search rankings, reduced pay per click costs, scalability for custom corporate online videos, video embedded within e-mail campaigns, training material and executive announcements are a few of the additional advantages offered by the CRM software service.

Pricing starts at $1,100 for a 30-second video, plus whatever deal you work out with Tom's people.

Oracle today announced the extension of the Oracle Validated Configurations program to include Oracle VM server virtualization software, "enabling customers to deploy virtualized environments and optimize data center resources."

Additionally, a new Oracle Linux Kit is available, including Oracle VM which allows end-users to create their own validated configurations.

The Validated Configurations are billed as providing faster, and lower-cost deployment of Linux and Oracle VM products in the enterprise. The program offers validated architectures, with what Oracle officials describe as "documented best practices for software, hardware, storage, and network components."

A "partner-accepted and endorsed" program offering "documented best practices for virtualized and Linux deployments," Oracle Validated Configurations provide details on what to deploy, how to deploy and recommendations on hardware and software combinations that have proven to be the most effective.

Since the launch of the program in 2006, Oracle and its partners have done over 145 configurations.

Salesforce.com has announced that The Sant Corporation, vendor of proposal and sales document automation software, has switched to running its entire business in the cloud with Salesforce CRM.
Sant deployed the Service Cloud and the Sales Cloud, reporting "83 percent revenue growth and resolving customer support issues 60 percent faster," according to Salesforce.com officials. Today Sant's customers report issues via phone, e-mail, and Web-to-case forms on the company's site. All of these interactions are logged and tracked in the Service Cloud.
And every professional services engagement is tracked and managed in the Sales Cloud -- "from initial sale to final delivery," company officials say.

"We were using spreadsheets and a contact management application to run sales," using spreadsheets to log and track customer support issues. "This prevented us from taking the company to the next level. We needed a new approach to conducting business," says Brian Vass, vice president of marketing at The Sant Corporation. 
And shiny, happy people count: Vass remarks when they looked around for some help, one reason they settled on Salesforce.com was that "no other vendor could illustrate they had so many happy customers."

Sant also used Force.com to create applications to automate other areas of the business, including the professional services organization and customer feedback. 

Nowadays customers receive survey invitations when Sant closes a support case, complete a professional services engagement, or launch a new version of Sant's software application. Feedback from these surveys is rolled up to dashboards monitored by department managers and executives daily. 

"We've added ourselves to the long list of happy Salesforce.com customers," Sant says.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Consona Corporation has announced that its Consona Knowledge Management Version 7.3 and Consona Knowledge Driven Support Version 1.0 product lines have met the Consortium for Service Innovation's Knowledge-Centered Support v4 Verified standards.

Consona therefore joins "the short list of KCS Verified v4 vendors," according to Greg Oxton, executive director of the Consortium for Service Innovation. 
KCS v4 verification includes a new categorization of vendor products, and the requirement that vendors "make their verification questionnaire available to any customer or prospect on request," Oxton explains, adding that Consona, which previously was KCS v3 verified with its Knowledge Management product, "now offers tools for both the knowledge management and incident plus knowledge management categories."

The KCS Verified program bases its methodology on the best practices of various service and support organizations. The Consona Knowledge Management product line integrates with "virtually any CRM or case management" product, company officials say, adding that Consona Knowledge Driven Support "represents the integration between Consona's own case management (formerly Onyx) and knowledge management (formerly KNOVA) functionality."

A non-profit alliance of organizations, the Consortium for Service Innovation developed the KCS in "an effort to capture and structure a support or service interaction and reuse the knowledge gained, resulting in an improved operational efficiency, employee morale and customer satisfaction."

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