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

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

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

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... after the 10,872nd time you've heard it a bit of the charm begins to wear off:

Qwest Communications has reported financial results for the third quarter 2009, announcing net income of $136 million and earnings per share of eight cents, which was equal to prior-year results.
The third quarter saw net operating revenue of $3.1 billion, including 36 percent growth in IP services. Overall reported revenues declined ten percent compared to the prior-year period, and excluding the effects of the company's transition to a new wireless business model, revenue declined 7 percent year over year.

Total operating revenues declined 1 percent sequentially.

In the quarter, adjusted EBITDA increased 1 percent from the year-ago period as substantial cost improvements offset lower revenue: "Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter of $1.1 billion includes nearly $60 million of incremental non-cash pension and OPEB expenses compared to the third quarter 2008," company officials say.
For the quarter, adjusted free cash flow was $428 million and year to date, adjusted free cash flow totaled $1.4 billion, compared to $846 million through the third quarter 2008.

Qwest officials said fiber to the node was deployed to more than 500,000 additional homes during the quarter, and that during the quarter 71,000 customers added broadband services that use the fiber network. Company officials also announced the company will begin developing backbone facilities with Alcatel-Lucent.

Operating expenses in the quarter were $2.6 billion, a decrease of $356 million, or 12 percent, year over year.

Solutions Group has announced the retention of World Market Media to lead the company's social media marketing efforts.

Ronald P. Russo, Jr., Founder & Social Equity Officer -- there's a job title one doesn't see every day -- pronounced World Market Media "delighted" that Solutions Group management team "has engaged World Market Media to design and implement their social media distribution plan and platform."

Solutions Group sells managed engineering services, integrating regional design centers in North America with its lower cost off-shore engineering locations in Romania and Mexico to provide "blended pricing" products and "reduced product design cycle times."
The firm uses its core engineering competencies in other areas, including "royalty partnerships, intellectual property creation and selective acquisitions. SGI's customers currently include major Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-range OEMs and early stage product companies," company officials say.

Every once in a while one hears news that demands, yes, demands to be covered, however tangentially related to CRM or communications. Such a news item has crossed First Coffee's desk, and will be covered:

Famous Dave's Utah Barbeque recently selected Telesphere, a Phoenix-based managed telecommunications and Internet services provider, to provide fully hosted voice and data services to their Salt Lake City call center.
That's right, Utah barbecue. Two words that go together like "Relaxing" and "New York City," "Polite" and "Paris" and, oh, "Utah" and "Jazz,"right? First Coffee calls Virginia home when he's in the States, and has not had much call to sample barbecue outside of the Smoky Pig out Route 1 in Ashland, as it's difficult to imagine any could be all that much better.
But evidently Dave has some idea what he's doing: Famous Dave's of America has 178 locations in 38 states -- "including Times Square in New York City," company officials say, as if that's anything to be proud of when it comes to barbecue, seeing as how New Yorkers know about as much about barbecue as they do about harvesting wheat.
Now if they had said they have managed to stay in business in any North Carolina city outside of Charlotte or the Research Triangle, okay, First Coffee's impressed.
The Telesphere Complete product with Call Center application selected by Famous Dave's provides an all-in-one smart fully managed and hosted private data connection, hosted VoIP with Quality of Service, business-class IP phones and installation, "the latest in user and system features" as well as 24x7 support and a call center application with call monitoring and controlling features, cole slaw, hash browns and biscuits 'n' gravy with sweet iced tea.

"We were most impressed with the call center application. It will allow our remote restaurants to forward all catering calls to one location," says Scott Morton, Area Director for Famous Dave's, noting that this year, Famous Dave's Utah Barbeque has increased their catering volume "well beyond expectations."

Avaya, a vendor of enterprise communications applications, systems and services, has announced that it will launch the Avaya Virtual Partner Conference on November 10, 2009.
Company officials say the event will offer a combination of "on-demand training, live question and answer sessions and key reference materials."
The conference is designed to provide Avaya's global channel partners with in-depth details on Avaya's business strategies, product and service road maps, and information on critical tools to improve their company's effectiveness and overall success.

Patti Moran, senior director, Worldwide Channel Marketing, Avaya, said the conference is intended to let associates at our partner companies "hear and understand the new Avaya Connect program, our road map. The format allows partners to attend the live session or opt in at a time that is more convenient for them."

The conference will launch via Web cast at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, November 10. It will feature several video presentations wherein Avaya executives address channel initiatives and explain the proper care and feeding of the Avaya Aura unified communications architecture and new service options.

There will also be in-depth discussions on the new partner program, Avaya Connect, and the streamlined competency model, company officials promise.

The Avaya Virtual Partner Conference website will also feature a Resource Center with presentations and relevant documentation and Virtual Briefcases that will allow partners to save pertinent resources for later use.

More good news: Overall customer satisfaction with residential high-speed Internet service providers has increased from 2008, "primarily due to improvements in performance and reliability," according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study released today.

The study measures customer satisfaction with high-speed Internet service based on performance and reliability, cost of service, customer service, billing and offerings and promotions. It found that overall satisfaction with residential high-speed Internet service is 639 on a 1,000-point scale--"an increase of 22 index points compared with 2008," officials said.

The study also finds that customer satisfaction with performance and reliability averages 687 in 2009--a 43-point increase from 644 in 2008.

Why the improvements? Power officials point to the decrease in the percentage of customers who report experiencing service outages, as well as improved customer perceptions of connection speed.

"In many instances a household's Internet connection acts as the backbone of its voice, video and information services," notes Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. "As households become more dependent on services provided via the Internet, eliminating outages and providing consistent connection speeds will become necessities in Internet service providers' business models."

Among customers who bundle services from their Internet service provider, the most popular option is a combination of video and Internet services, chosen by about one-third of customers who bundle their services. The percentage of customers who bundle voice, video and data services has increased from 16 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2009.
The proportion of customers who indicate they "probably will" or "definitely will" bundle their Internet service with other voice or video services in the next year also increased to 52 percent in 2009 from 43 percent in 2008.

As far as trends go, the study found that the proportion of high-speed Internet service customers who indicate they are loyal to their provider has increased by two percentage points from 2008, to 32 percent in 2009. Additionally, 66 percent of customers state they "definitely will" or "probably will" recommend their provider to others in 2009--an increase of four percentage points, compared with 2008.

And the strikingly good news: Among customers who contacted their service provider to resolve a problem or question, average hold times have decreased by nearly 30 seconds in 2009, compared with 2008.

Another one of those silly bets politicians and businesses make whenever the local boys are in a Super Bowl or World Series:

After winning last year's World Series bet with a Tampa-based company, Philadelphia-based Alteva, an enterprise hosted VoIP and unified communications provider, has bet Philadelphia pretzels against New York bagels with Stage 2 Networks, a New York-based vendor of hosted PBX and converged network tools.

This year there's a humiliation factor -- the 2009 loser will also don opposing team's fan wear and have a photo session with a banner acknowledging the winner in front of either New York City's Times Square or the Rocky statue in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"After winning bushels of Florida oranges last year, we bought a juicer and got accustomed to drinking fresh squeezed orange juice at breakfast meetings... the only thing missing is a good bagel," says William Bumbernick, CEO of Alteva in an incredibly sly reference to Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez's admission that he was using banned steroids, or "juicing." "We enjoy doing things like this as its fun for the company, overall morale and we get to show our support of our home team."

Joseph P. Gillette, CEO of Stage 2 Networks, notes that the only previous Yankees-Phillies World Series was played back in 1950, "so we're looking forward to going head-to-head almost 60 years later. We're also looking forward to eating lots of Philly pretzels."

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