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November 2009

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Actuate's Reports, Iowa Power Fund, Caimant and Infonetics, Health Games, China's Power Grid, Fortinet on NASDAQ

November 30, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the third installment of War of the Records. After The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers's surprise victory over Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited in yesterday's clash of the titans, we have a bit more eclectic affair today -- Warren Zevon's impeccable songwriting on Excitable Boy goes up against Ol' Blue Eyes's impeccable vocals on the breezy Sinatra classic Come Fly With Me.   First up: Zevon. Johnny, strike up the band.   A note on the coverage: We're ranging a bit afield from straight CRM-call center reportage today, happy Thanksgiving to you, too:

Actuate Corporation, the good folks who brought you BIRT, is announcing that it has made available for download five detailed open source reports featuring the results from the fourth annual Actuate Open Source Survey.   "For the first time," company officials say, "the survey includes results from China, in addition to North America, the UK, Germany and France."   It features the responses of almost 1,500 respondents spanning several verticals and features an overview of attitudes and trends in open source growth and adoption for each region. Sounds like actually one of the more comprehensive studies of its kind, as company officials claim.

"With world leaders from the US, France and the UK among others, actively calling for the widespread use of open source, the 2009 Actuate Annual Open Source Survey continues to chart this movement's increased adoption and acceptance," says Nobby Akiha, senior vice president marketing, Actuate Corporation.

The 2009 survey, conducted in June, tracked the adoption of open source software in regions across the globe.

SAS and Healthcare, HighTower, Quantum's GoalTrak, Callidus On-Demand, F&S Call Center, RoadComm's LifeInPocket

November 30, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Round II of War of the Records. Yesterday Elvis Presley's From Elvis In Memphis edged out Tom Waits's Rain Dogs.

Today is truly a monumental clash of the titans -- Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited against The Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers:

"With the entire US health care system under the microscope of reform efforts," SAS officials say, "parts of such change depend upon health insurers controlling costs, improving health care outcomes and maximizing member satisfaction."

And SAS would like to take this opportunity to remind you that "nearly all of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensees use SAS Business Analytics to drive those measures."

Of the 39 companies within the oldest and largest family of health plans, say officials of SAS, the CRM analytics tools vendor tucked away in a bucolic campus in Cary, North Carolina, "all but four have deployed SAS software."   In fact, they say, "one in three Americans -- more than 100 million residents -- counts on a Blue Cross and Blue Shield company for health coverage."

With increasing pressure from health care reform for health insurers to cut costs and invest in modern technology architecture, "technologies such as advanced analytics are increasingly a key element in cost control," says Kunal Pandya, Senior Analyst, Health Insurance Practice at Aite Group, an independent business technology research firm. "For health care insurers, such technologies can assist with detecting fraud, managing risk driven by preventative interactions and other areas that make the system more efficient and effective."

The SAS Business Analytics Framework is described by company officials as a blend of data integration, analytics, reporting as well as "an ever-expanding portfolio of industry and line-of-business" products for organizations to address "immediate business issues." ...

Highway 61's going first. Man, after the double-barreled shotgun blast of "Like A Rolling Stone" and "Tombstone Blues" and knowing it finishes up on "Desolation Row" it's going to be hard to beat. ... Chicago-based HighTower, an advisor-owned financial services firm described by company officials as serving "high net worth clients" -- as if any financial services firm would say "Hey, we serve low worth clients!

SAS and Netezza, Salesforce.com and PivotLink, Implix, NexJ and ATB, DynamicsExchange, ESalesTrack for KC

November 24, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Tom Waits' Rain Dogs. After this we'll play Elvis Presley's From Elvis In Memphis, and vote on which one's the winner in today's War of the Records. So nice to have our own office:

Business analytics vendor SAS and Netezza Corporation, a vendor of data warehouse and analytic appliances, have expanded their partnership to bring in-database analytic processing to mutual customers, SAS officials say.   Company officials add that "joint R&D will further integrate the companies' respective products, starting with SAS Scoring Accelerator for Netezza, available in early 2010."

The SAS Scoring Accelerator for Netezza is evidently designed to help businesses obtain analytical results: "Customers using SAS Enterprise Miner and the Netezza TwinFin data warehouse appliance will translate and execute scoring models directly within Netezza's parallel environment."

  Rather than manually transforming and processing code outside the database, the product automates data preparation and model deployment tasks inside the database to let customers use Netezza data warehousing investments with SAS Business Analytics.
The idea here is that reducing data movement across networks lets organizations process more analytic models "without jeopardizing reliability," SAS officials say, adding that the results are "higher returns from data assets and reliable results supporting operations such as fraud detection, credit scoring and risk management."

Keith Collins, SAS Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said the SAS Scoring Accelerator for Netezza, which he called "our first in-database activity with Netezza," is a demonstration of SAS' "commitment to integrating SAS Analytics across leading database vendors."

Netezza is headquartered in Marlborough, Massachusetts and has offices in Northern Virginia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, France, Japan, Korea, Australia and Singapore. ...

More fallout from Salesforce.com's Dreamforce conference: PivotLink, a vendor of business intelligence delivered via Software as a Service, has announced more customers rolling out PivotLink for Salesforce.com via the AppExchange.    Built using the Force.com platform, PivotLink's on-demand Sales Analysis and Reporting product is pitched by PivotLink officials as a way to deploy such a tool "without the upfront cost and complexity of traditional on-premise."

It's intended to let allows sales and marketing users analyze the data in Salesforce.com to get returns on investment from their sales force automation. PivotLink provides a view of sales performance data and customer metrics that are "commonly scattered across Excel spreadsheets, on-premise systems and SaaS applications such as sales, marketing automation, finance, order management and manufacturing," company officials say.

The tool is billed by company officials as a way to "slice and dice trend information from Salesforce.com, analyze pipeline opportunities and snapshot pipeline value, create trend charts and dashboards for all sales metrics, boost the accuracy of sales forecasts, assess variance between bookings and quota and pinpoint profitable customer segments and products."   It's also supposed to identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, determine why deals aren't closing faster and "integrate data from ERP, CRM, supply chain and marketing systems for a 360 degree view of the variables that could affect revenue performance." ...

Implix, an e-mail marketing vendor to the SOHO/SMB market, has announced the launch of GetResponse Developer Zone, a portal dedicated to helping "small to large enterprises integrate the GetResponse e-mail marketing API platform with in-house applications, databases, e-commerce shopping carts, CRM, and CMS systems."   The idea evidently is to "improve targeted marketing capabilities and increase campaign ROI," company officials say.

Beazer and Salesforce.com, MultiFactor, CRM Mastery, Customer Effective, ILinc, Xactly

November 23, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Texas singer-songwriter Adam Carroll's drolly acerbic music, nicely understated for maximum impact:

Beazer Homes USA, an Atlanta-based national home builder, has adopted SalesforceCRM to "enhance sales and customer care processes," according to consulting firm Bluewolf.

  Stop us if you've heard this one before: Beazer had a cumbersome CRM product with limited capabilities, and as a result - all together now - the sales reps ignored it.
Hit hard by the housing downturn of the past several years, Beazer officials say they see the company "in the midst of a makeover that will enable it to take advantage of the slowly recovering housing market." Part of that makeover, evidently, is looking to strengthen the sales and customer care processes.   "Now we are seeing glimmers of hope that the negative market trends in the housing industry are moderating," said Cindy Tierney, CIO, Beazer Homes. 

Beazer Director of Information Technology Joe Harris participated on Bluewolf's panel on "Extreme Makeover: Customer Care Edition" at Dreamforce 2009, Salesforce.com's user and developer conference, "sharing experiences of undergoing an extreme makeover of the home builder's customer care processes and technology," according to Beazer officials.

The builder is looking for improvements throughout the sales organization, including improved customer interaction and agent productivity, an increase in user adoption, improved overall data quality and decreased time required to generate sales reports from days and hours to minutes.

Company officials say with the Salesforce.com technology, they can now "capture and centralize data on potential and existing home buyers, realtors and other partners," and enhance sales performance management through analytics and reporting. ...

MultiFactor, a Web application security vendor, has announced its SecureAuth product has been tested and certified by Salesforce.com.   Effective immediately, the authentication is available on Salesforce.com's AppExchange marketplace.

SecureAuth is designed, company officials say, to enable "seamless single sign on" while "enforcing 2-factor authentication into internally-hosted applications," as well as SaaS applications like Salesforce CRM and GoogleApps.   "The ability to enforce a bilateral authentication throughout the SSO process across network, cloud, and Web applications is unique in the industry," claims MultiFactor's CTO Garret Grajek.

Many folks who like cloud computing's flexibility and cost savings are leery of the security concerns - especially enterprise IT departments. This product is designed to be a way for cloud vendors to guarantee the "integrity and reliability of their applications and data centers," MultiFactor officials explain, adding that the enterprise customer "must control identities of their users for access to those applications and data."   The SecureAuth product implements a secure authentication to both legacy onsite and cloud-based applications without forcing the enterprise to migrate or synchronize their existing user credential stores, since it directly accesses an existing native directory, including Microsoft's Active Directory.   What this means, according to MultiFactor officials, is that an enterprise can migrate to cloud computing with a single or multiple applications at a time, while using their existing IT infrastructure and "retaining full control of their users' identities. ...

From Telluride, Colorado comes news from CRM guru and jazz maven Jim Berkowitz, a guy you need to add as a Facebook friend just to get his music suggestions.   Saying that while CRM's a "hot topic" in business today as "both small and mid-sized companies struggle to compete," Berkowitz notes that picking the right CRM technologies for Salesforce automation, customer service, marketing, or social networking, from the literally thousands of technology solutions that are available, "can be a daunting task."   Berkowitz, CRM Technology Coach and Industry Analyst with CRM Mastery, says that although there are a number CRM directories available on the Web, "they are not organized in a way that's useful to potential technology buyers."

CRM Mastery's Technology Directory, he explains, helps potential CRM buyers by "segregating On Demand from On Premise and Open Source offerings, distinguishing CRM suites from products designed to focus on just one functional area and also by separating sales force automation products that offer sales pipeline tracking from contact management products that don't."

Directory content is maintained directly by Berkowitz himself, between shifts as jazz DJ on KOTO community radio. He describes the directory as "complete, in terms of the available products, and each product offering is properly categorized."

"CRM Mastery is all about being buyer-focused," Berkowitz says. "Ultimately as our directory expands and matures our goal is to have it become the premier source on the Internet for companies that are trying to put together a list of products that they should be considering for use in their organizations."

CRM Mastery, founded in 2004, is described by Berkowitz as "an independent, unbiased firm that specializes in coaching SMBs through a CRM selection and deployment process." And join Jim in line for Turkey Bingo -- "a true Telluride tradition." ...

Customer Effective, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and value-added reseller of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, has completed a customized Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation for CapTrust, an investment advisory and retirement plan consulting firm.   CapTrust chose Customer Effective for their Microsoft Dynamics CRM expertise, company officials say, using the product's "technical and development services" to implement CRM using the xRM platform to "build more than 20 business applications on a single platform for CapTrust."   These business applications are intended to give CapTrust more efficient processes, help recruit financial advisors, and provide differentiated services to clients, according to Customer Effective officials, who added that the xRM platform was especially attractive "because of its technical flexibility allowing CapTrust to maintain control over business data."

As part of the project with Customer Effective, CapTrust created an online fiduciary management tool for retirement plan sponsors.

Helpstream and CRM, Scalable Video Coding, Gemalto, Samsung Mobile Bada, Callidus, Lexent Metro Connect

November 11, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Aimee Mann's Live At St. Ann's Warehouse. Getting tired of seeing this as the music of the day? Get the album and see why we never get tired of playing it here. You know what?

Unified360, Riff Raters for IPhone, AltiGen, DocuSign at Dreamforce, Taylor Research Group, Ideal Dialogue

November 6, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Don Byron's Ivey-Divey. Interesting clarinet jazz, we raised an eyebrow at the cover of "Freddie Freeloader," but it works:

Communications products vendor Unified360 has announced a new customer: Rasa Floors & Carpet Cleaning, described by Unified360 officials as "one of Texas' fastest growing floor and carpet cleaning companies."   Always good to have fast-growing companies as customers, yes.  Rasa Floors wanted something to help "streamline communication with their customers," according to Jim Barker, CEO of Unified360, saying they wanted "a way of integrating their telephony infrastructure and systems with the core database and CRM."

In mid-2009 Unified360 helped Rasa upgrade their voice and data network to use more intelligent MPLS and SIP transport methods. After putting that network in place, Unified360 rolled out Cisco voice and data infrastructure for Rasa, including phones, soft phones, unified messaging, reporting, and recording.

"The team at Unified360 did a fabulous job of managing this major technology rollout for our business," says Michael Rasa, CEO of Rasa Floors & Carpet Cleaning. "This project was so important that we went to the extreme of checking multiple Unified360 references, going onsite to visit their reference sources, and visiting their offices on multiple occasions."

Unified360, a Premier business partner with Cisco Systems, is based in Dallas. ...

Here at First Coffee's we're suckers for news of any cool iPhone apps.

New Entertainment, Ringtone Tanking, ShareMethods on AppEx, Home Agents, Infusionsoft, QNX

November 6, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Aimee Mann's Live At St. Ann's Warehouse. Just about the perfect album to play in a home office doing business writing... for all of you out there in a similar situation...

  Santa Claus could be bringing a lot more social networking and text messaging this Christmas. The latest "Entertainment Trends in America" tracking study, published by the NPD Group, finds that many consumers expect to be spending the same amount on traditional entertainment categories during the Christmas season, "even as their participation in newer forms of entertainment continues to rise." The study found the most notable increases occurring in social networking and text messaging: "More than a third (37 percent) of respondents reported visiting a social networking site over the prior six months, which is an increase of 11 percentage points since last year." Sixty-three percent reported sending and receiving text messages, an increase of seven percentage points over the prior year. Only nine percent used Twitter during the same time period. Lumps of coal all around.

"With a host of new mobile devices and free mobile and Web entertainment applications now widely available -- and as adult consumers get more comfortable with these newer technologies -- we can expect to see further increases in these areas in the months to come," says Russ Crupnick, senior entertainment industry analyst for NPD.

The overall spending outlook for entertainment for the remainder of the year is still reasonably stable, the study's officials found, "considering that many consumers continue to have anxiety about the state of the economy and the employment picture." In fact, in August fully 66 percent of consumers reported that they planned to spend the same amount or more on entertainment products and services in the coming 12 months than they did the prior year -- three percentage points higher than when the same question was asked last year.  Interestingly the report found that sixty-three percent of men surveyed planned to spend more than they did last year on entertainment, versus just 37 percent of women who reported feeling similarly. The study found the picture inconsistent across categories, with consumers more inclined to spend money on digital music and movies in the theater, and somewhat less willing to spend money on CDs and DVDs.
Of course the death of recorded music purchased in stores via CD has been predicted for a long time now.

Aspect's Award, Ufone, Sybase and IPhone, Mobile in Emerging Markets, New Global Telecom, BlackBerry in Indonesia

November 6, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is R.E.M.'s Lifes Rich Pageant. One of First Coffee's favorite albums, but we get this sneakingly guilty feeling we should like R.E.M. more than we actually do:

Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based Aspect, a unified communications products vendor, has won the 2009 PilotHouse IP Contact Center Award based on a customer survey report from Nemertes Research.  Companies responding to the survey "praised Aspect's customer service as the highest in the call center industry," research officials said. "More than 1,300 individuals participated in the survey," according to Nemertes officials, who said Aspect garnered a 4.48 overall score on a five-point scale, bettering whoever was in second place in the IP contact center market by more a half-point.  Katherine Trost, research analyst, Nemertes Research, said the results can be seen to "validate the company's unified communications strategy and direction. More than half of the IT practitioners we work with plan to bring unified communications capabilities into their call center operations." Customer comments in the report singled out Aspect's unified communications vision as noteworthy, Nemertes officials said, adding that the company's product integrations with Microsoft Office Communications Server and Aspect's UC services practice also impressed users. 

Jim Foy, president and chief executive officer, Aspect, said "from virtualization capabilities, to unified communications tools, to system integration services, our customers' feedback is evaluated and incorporated into our product road map and corporate strategy." ...

Ufone -- which of course you recognize as PTML, or Pakistan Telecom Mobile Limited -- has signed an agreement with Teradata Corporation to expand its Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse. Abdul Aziz, chief executive officer, Ufone, said they want the Teradata technology to "better understand our customers and gain insight into their needs, and to be able to respond with matching services and offerings at competitive prices."

Since 2001 Ufone has used analytical products from Teradata to store information and analyze their information reserves.

Khuram Rahat, managing director, Teradata Pakistan said the agreement with Ufone should help the telecom "carry out detailed analysis and to make strategic and timely tactical decisions that better serve their customers while achieving optimal efficiencies in their operations."

PTML is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation that started its operations in 2001 under the brand name Ufone.

Intermedia Migrations, Dreamforce '09, AT&T Q3, Ahern's Virtual Tour, CyanGate, Gladinet

November 3, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is an iTunes shuffle of The Kinks. First Coffee agrees with the considered opinion of sportswriter Peter King, who saw the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame show in Madison Square Garden recently with an all-star lineup, including Kinks frontman Ray Davies schooling Metallica on "You Really Got Me" as part of the show: "We've forgotten how great The Kinks were:"
Intermedia, a vendor of Microsoft Exchange hosting, will offer free migrations to its hosted Exchange 2010 customers when the service debuts. If "free" fits into your budget you might want to take a look.
Company officials hope the free migration offer is of particular interest to SMBs looking to upgrade from Exchange 2000 or Exchange 2003. Jonathan McCormick, chief operating officer, Intermedia, said the migrations will be handled to "minimize disruption to their business and preserve the value of their existing Exchange set-up."   The vendor's Exchange Concierge team will perform the migrations using proprietary tools for hosted Exchange 2003 and 2007: "The tools are being readied for use with hosted Exchange 2010, in part through the hosted Exchange 2010 beta Intermedia launched in May 2009.

Qwest Results, Solutions Group, Famous Dave's, Avaya, J.D. Power and World Series Bets

November 3, 2009

The news as of Halloween, and no we're not listening to "Monster Mash." Okay, granted it's the greatest Halloween song ever recorded. I mean, there's nothing else remotely in its class. Nothing. But it's just that...

R&D Up, Property App, Chinook and BroadSoft, OneBill Telecom, ClickFox, VeriSign and iPhone, SAS

November 3, 2009

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the sounds of of the Yankees getting started against the Phillies, particularly the Yankee Stadium fans riding Pedro hard here in the bottom of the first. Gotta love New York fans. Promise that won't affect the column, though:

Okay, you wanted some good news, we have some good news for you: Global management consulting firm Booz & Company's fifth annual analysis of global innovation spending finds that the world's 1,000 largest publicly traded corporate research and development spenders increased spending on R&D in 2008.   Yes, this is in the face of a global economic downturn. If you're really looking to read the tea leaves you can see this as an affirming the importance of innovation to corporate strategy.

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