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January 2010

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Mindjet's MindManager for Mac, Opera: Facebook #1, Lotus on BlackBerry, Teleperformance Survey

January 27, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Tom Waits's hodgepodge collection of outtakes and unreleased material, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards. The material on this collection is so strong you wonder he couldn't find a place for it on the studio releases -- then you listen to those and realize yeah, those were pretty good too:

Mindjet, seller of collaboration and personal productivity tools, has made the MindManager 8 for Mac application available after the launch of its Web-based collaboration product Mindjet Catalyst last October 2009.

This latest version of the tool, which company officials describe as "a mind mapping application," is billed as having "further functionality and integration with native Mac applications" for information management for Mac users.

MindManager uses visuals on an expandable canvas, or "map," to capture and organize ideas and processes so that users and teams can see the forest and the trees -- what a novel concept -- "compared to documents, presentations and e-mail that constrain one to working one page at a time," company officials said.

Pricing details were not mentioned.

Facebook is now the most-visited social network on the mobile Web among Opera Mobile users, according to Opera's State of the Mobile Web report.   Unique users of Facebook grew more than 600 percent during 2009, a statement which could be taken in a couple of interesting ways ("Those must be some tall people!").   You'll never guess what site was formerly the most popular social network among Opera Mini users: VKontakte. Ever heard of it? We haven't.

Digium, Aumtech and Asterisk, Cbeyond and Taco Mac, EQA Office Cubicles, Verint and Bouygues

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the East Village Opera Company's wonderful eponymous album. Such a good idea, you wonder if it was that nobody other than Malcolm McLaren thought of it before, or nobody outside of Malcolm McLaren on Fans could pull off this kind of thing:

Digium, the Asterisk Company, and Aumtech, a vendor of speech and computer telephony integration products, have announced a partner relationship between the companies. Asterisk users now have a speech alternative, featuring server-based licenses that support 48+ ports of Automated Speech Recognition for less than the cost of one or two competitive ASR licenses.

Aumtech's offering provides 48+ ports of multi-language speech recognition for the Asterisk platform with support for $1,975 per port. Aumtech officials say users can now support an entire ASR server with 8, 24, or 48+ ASR licenses for a first-year cost of just $1,975 and $1,275 annually thereafter.

Aumtech is introducing its Media Resource Control Protocol Connector utility, which lets Asterisk customers access the Microsoft Speech Services 2007 ASR. This includes, company officials say, "unlimited grammars and multiple languages of ASR; the list of 14 available languages and voices is constantly growing, and there are successful installations in North America, South America, Europe and the Far East."   Asterisk users can access the speech product on Asterisk and on a variety of Interactive Voice Response tools, including Aumtech's VoiceXML 2.1 Certified IVR platform, or other standards-based IVR platforms.

The Aumtech MRCP Connector for the Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Speech Server lets companies using Linux build speech-driven applications with the Microsoft ASR product.

SMBs Like SaaS, AT&T and Verizon Prices, Sprint and the NFL, Haitian D.C. Command Center

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Kinks' scorching live set One For The Road:

Small and mid-sized businesses are becoming "more sophisticated" in their technology purchases, trying out software-as-a-service (SaaS) and managed services, new research from CompTIA finds.

The survey of more than 400 SMBs across the United States finds that "nearly 30 percent of them plan to implement SaaS in 2010," with the primary reason given being "to lower costs and maintain their competitive edge."   That's up from 22 percent and 14 percent respectively in the two prior years.   "Between 70 percent and 80 percent of the SMBs we surveyed consider the usage of ERP, CRM and online e-commerce capabilities as strategic to their business," says Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA. "IT solutions that are tied to instant return on investment in business communication and customer outreach efforts have the highest likelihood of adoption."

Thirty percent of SMBs say they intend to implement managed services in 2010. Perhaps not surprisingly, 42 percent of SMBs do not have a formal IT department, the study finds, "relying instead on workers handling IT needs on a part-time basis." Obviously with such jerry-built IT things fall through the cracks, things having to do with customer service, clients, customers and profits. Hence the need for managed services.

  SMBs, the study finds, want technology to "drive revenues, produce immediate results to the bottom line and have a direct, positive impact on the customer's experience." As a result there's growing adoption of enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and related products.

Though the study found SMBs "somewhat upbeat" about business prospects in 2010 -- seven in ten expect positive revenue growth -- they said they want to keep current IT systems operational as long as they can -- hey IT budgets are lean, too.

PRC's Third Anniversary, Speed Texting Champs, Image to OCR Converter, New Ringtones

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Coltrane's highly accessible but not wallpaper album, My Favorite Things. We'll follow that with Workout from an underrated trumpeter, Hank Mobley:

PRC, which sells outsourced customer contact management services, marked its third anniversary as a member of the Colorado Springs community with a celebration on January 14 in the PRC offices at 6805 Corporate Drive in Colorado Springs.

As part of the celebration, local employees pledged 1,000 hours of community service to the Colorado Springs area through PRC Community Care, a company-wide initiative that encourages and enables PRC employees to take an active role in improving their local communities.   Each month throughout 2010, PRC employees will participate in a specific volunteer activity, raise money or collect items for donation to organizations that address homelessness, youth and family matters and provide support for U.S. soldiers serving overseas.

"Giving back to the community has been a part of the PRC fabric since our inception nearly 30 years ago," says PRC CEO Steven Richards, who attended the celebration in Colorado Springs. "We are very pleased to be a part of the Colorado Springs community and look forward to working with our employees, local leaders and community organizations to further improve the economic outlook and quality of life for residents in the area." You know how it goes if you've been reading this space for any time at all: If a company's doing charitable work, they get to be a bit puffy here.

SpoofEm.com, NCIC Inmate Phones, Cignias and BlackBerry, Epicor Retail Mobile

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Duke Ellington's "Track 360:"

SpoofEm.com has launched their latest service, Wiretrap. "Most anti-spyware programs detect spyware on a computer, but Wiretrap is a Web-based service that will detect 'who' installed spyware on an individual's computer," company officials say.

"The main objective of a hacker is to somehow get spyware installed onto a victim's computer. This spyware allows the hacker to follow every keystroke that is entered through the system," explains Sheehan Toufiq, IT Spokesperson and Assistant Developer to the Wiretrap Project. "With this information a hacker can enter an e-mail account to steal personal, social, and even financial information."

Evidently when a hacker opens the Wiretrap set by the user and clicks the link in an attempt to steal information, the hacker's IP address, information and location is sent back to the victim, as Toufiq explains: "If the individual who installed the spyware has a Webcam or microphone attached, or built into their computer, Wiretrap will take pictures or an audio recording of the culprit."   Then the pictures, audio recording, IP address, and other information of the individual who installed the spyware will then be e-mailed to the victim.

OpDecision and Soldiers, CBTReferee App, IPOWOW and DCN, Regulations Stifling Argentina

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely, the album of dark, moody ballads he called his "suicide songs" collection:

OpDecision, a corporate wireless expense management firm, has formed a sponsorship with Cell Phones for Soldiers.   More than 150,000 troops are serving overseas and are away from their families, and OpDecision and Cell Phones for Soldiers wants companies and individuals to help them out by donating cell phones. 

"We are in the wireless business, and no one is more worthy of regular communication than our soldiers who serve overseas," says Jay Milgrom, CEO of OpDecision. "That's why we have formed a sponsorship with Cell Phones for Soldiers, which lets our soldiers connect with loved ones back home."

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 nonprofit organization has raised almost $1 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

Approximately half of the phones are reconditioned and resold. The proceeds from each donated phone are enough to provide an hour of talk time to soldiers abroad, CP for S officials say.

"During the past few years, we have been amazed by the generosity of others.

FCC's Sports Ruling, Hooters' Screen Wash, Norsat in Haiti, iPhone Losing Its App Lead?

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the wonderful sounds of silence. Hey everybody needs a break now and then:

Raise a beer, sports fans, Verizon says you've won: The Federal Communications Commission ruled last Wednesday that incumbent cable television providers that control unique, regional sports programming can no longer unilaterally refuse to provide access to that programming, including high-definition feeds, to competing providers. 

In a 4-1 decision, Verizon officials say, FCC commissioners concluded that withholding regional sports programming presumptively violates section 628 of the Cable Act and is anti-competitive: "The order, approved at Wednesday's open meeting, includes standstill language barring cable companies from cutting off access to programming during program renewal negotiations."

Verizon competes with Cablevision in the television market with its FiOS TV. It filed a program access complaint against Cablevision in July because the cable incumbent, in the words of Verizon officials, "continually denied Verizon access to high-definition versions of regional sports programming Cablevision controls in New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut."   Hey Cablevision, can you hear Verizon now?

Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president of Federal Regulatory Affairs, said "This is a big-time victory for television sports fans." So, see, it has to be true.   "The FCC's decision to make must-see regional sports programming, including high-definition feeds, presumptively available to competitors, puts viewers in the driver's seat," she added. "This ruling means that consumers will no longer have to stick with their incumbent cable provider in order to watch local teams in high definition."

Raising the level of journalistic inquiry a few notches, this reporter is investigating the news that Hooters Calendar and On The Go Girls  have announced today the launch of Hooters Calendar Sexy Screen Wash in the App Store.    I know, you think the life of a freelance business technology journalist is all glamour and glitter, but friends, there are some things expense accounts just don't cover.   The announcement, Hooters says, demonstrates "the new ways in which successful brands are reaching consumers on today's smart phones."

Hooters Calendar Sexy Screen Wash is based on the popular Sexy Screen Wash applications from On The Go Girls, which have been downloaded by over one million users.

Sprint for Haiti, NICE and AnswerOn, Ectaco in Haiti, IQServices Locator

January 26, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Creedence Clearwater Revival's Cosmo's Factory. One of the sturdiest bands in the history of American rock music, CCR's genius was that they created a sound that could take uninspired material and carry it along so it's not a distraction between the highlights:

As of Friday, Sprint has been advancing 80 percent of the funds of the mobile giving donations from its customers to the relief efforts in Haiti, with the remaining 20 percent to be submitted under Sprint's normal 30 to 90-day settlement cycle, company officials say.

This advance payout "will encompass all of the Haiti disaster relief shortcodes in which Sprint has waived standard text messaging fees, including the American Red Cross International Response Fund."   And as regular readers of this space know, if your company's pitching in for worthy charitable causes we'll let you get away with a bit of P.R. here.

Between now and Sunday, January 31st, Sprint is waiving all fees and charges for Sprint customers sending text messages to and from Haiti. "During times of emergency, it has been shown that sending text messages rather than calling is more reliable form of communications and frees calling lines for critical communication between first responders, other emergency personnel and aid workers," Sprint officials say, adding that waived text-messaging fees do not apply to customers roaming on other networks.

Sprint "realizes the need for monetary resources and support for this effort from our customers has been overwhelming," says Ralph Reid, vice president of corporate social responsibility for Sprint.

Convergys and Gartner, Enpirion and Oracle, Kaleidico, ProTracker, CWR Mobility, Maximizer Software

January 22, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Kinks' Something Else:

Convergys has announced that it has been positioned by Gartner in the Leaders quadrant of the first ever "Magic Quadrant for CRM Contact Center BPO for North America," released in late 2009.

Gartner officials say they evaluated providers on "their ability to execute, criteria for which included product/service and customer experience." Gartner also looked at providers' "completeness of vision," they say, including "innovation, business model, market understanding and marketing, product, industry, geographic and sales strategies" in making its determination. So as you can see, friends, it's pretty well determined.

Andrea Ayers, President, Customer Management, Convergys, credited the company's position in the quadrant to their "leadership, execution abilities, and investments in our portfolio, which includes agent-assisted care, automation, self-service, and analytic services." 

Gartner's evaluation also encompassed each provider's set of offerings for CRM programs, including the ability to provide such things as advisory, consulting and migration services, "insight across industries," technology advisory and integration services for both voice and multichannel care such as Web chat, e-mail response and Web self-service as well as what Gartner officials called "a comprehensive set of business process services across CRM functions, including customer selection, acquisition, retention and extension."

As a single-source vendor Convergys sells analytic services, technology and agent services for the customer experience and relationships.
... To "streamline sales and marketing throughout its growing business," worthy goals indeed, Enpirion, an analog semiconductor company with expertise in power management, has standardized on an Oracle Accelerate solution fromBizTech for Oracle CRM On Demand Release 16.
Enpirion was started in 2001 by power management technology alumni from Bell Labs. Things progressed, and by 2008 demand for Enpirion's high density power systems embedded chips increased, company officials say, to the point where they were putting pressure on its "time and resource-strapped" sales and marketing organization.
Obviously what was needed was a revamp of its internal technology footprint. Enter Oracle, with Certified Advantage Partner BizTech to replace its existing homegrown database of spreadsheets.
As a midsize company, Enpirion doesn't have sackfuls of cash to blow on unnecessary resources or will-o'-the-wisp investments. Enpirion and BizTech used the Oracle Accelerate program to get a CRM implementation to meet their business needs today "and well into the future." Oracle CRM On Demand has been adopted across Enpirion's sales and marketing.
BizTech led Enpirion's Oracle E-Business Suite ERP implementation. BizTech officials say the project gave Enpirion the functionality required to accelerate demand creation and design in engagements, fit into the daily workflow of Enpirion's sales and marketing employees regardless of location and produce business reviews and reports. ...

The Internet -- surprising, we know -- continues to be the top destination for consumers shopping for products and services.

Xtreme Locator, Amdocs and Claro, Outsourcing Budgets, Turkcell, GOSO and Facebook, NCH on iPhone

January 15, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is :

IQServices.com has announced the release of its Xtreme Locator IVR Dealer Locator application, for "companies that are unable to keep up with calls from customers trying to find out where to buy their products," according to company officials.   William Tremaine, Director of Sales, says Xtreme Locator IVR technology "allows companies to automate telephone requests for store locations with packages starting as low as $50 per month."

The Xtreme Locator IVR is a companion to the Xtreme Web Locator, a vendor of locator products since 2000, and is engineered to handle "hundreds of concurrent phone calls," company officials say: "Callers enter their zip code using their telephone keypad and our text-to-speech engine delivers the location information in a realistic human voice."

The locator, Tremaine says, is designed to "save human CSR time by automating the process of sending callers into your stores. Since we have the capability to handle nearly an unlimited number of concurrent calls, customers will never have to wait and information will always be up to date and accurate."   The company also offers an option for callers to "Patch Through" to speak directly to the nearest location when they need more information. ...

Customer experience systems vendor Amdocs has announced that Claro Brazil, a mobile service provider, will deploy Amdocs to support customer ordering, sales force automation, e-commerce and Web self-service. The Amdocs products will support all Claro Brazil's current sales channels, including call centers, dealerships and kiosks, and "will also improve a new channel -- the Internet." Claro Brazil officials say they will introduce e-commerce as a new service
Ricardo Santoro, chief information officer of Claro Brazil, called the Brazilian market "heavily-penetrated," adding that the Amdocs products should give Claro customers "improved convenience and control through the new e-commerce and Web self-service offerings."

Claro Brazil officials say the company will deploy products from Amdocs' CES product portfolio to "modernize and standardize customer ordering, customer management, e-commerce, and product catalog management." They add the company will "benefit from the efficiencies gained by having one centralized system to manage and update, which reduces errors and operational costs."
Claro already has billing and partner relationship management products from Amdocs in production. Claro is a wholly-owned subsidiary of America Movil, S.A.B. de C.V.

Amdocs in Bulgaria, Ritmo for IPhone, Byki for IPhone, Google and On2, BatchBlue Experts, Nuance Study

January 14, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Diane Birch's iTunes Session. She's a new artist, with a truly expressive voice, First Coffee enjoys listening to her sing, but her material is so unoriginal. We've tried to like her album Bible Belt but can really only get interested in a couple tracks, these sessions are good but not much of an improvement, sorry to say, we listen to them and nothing really jumps out at us:

Bulgarian mobile provider Mobiltel, and "customer experience systems" vendor Amdocs, have announced the deployment of Amdocs CES Customer Management products at M-Tel. The products deployed include Amdocs Smart Agent Desktop and Amdocs Support for the service process from initial customer contact to resolution. The products are built on Amdocs' Smart Client Framework.   More than 1,000 users across M-Tel's contact centers and retail shops can now access the tool to use when providing customer service.

RedHorse Systems, Dimension Data, ICE App for IPhone, C-Com in New Zealand, Convergys

January 14, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Dolly Parton's fine bluegrass album of a few years ago, The Grass Is Blue:

RedHorse Systems, a vendor of business management products, has announced the latest version of its customer relationship management, RedHorse CRM, described as a "customizable" CRM platform.   New features include pending and history record preview panes and an e-mail and history archive, which allow the user to view progress on every account. The new version also includes e-mail enhancements, telephone integration for incoming and outgoing phone call pop-up and the ability to create tickets from e-mails and Web imports.
"Companies no longer want to purchase and maintain multiple software products to fill their CRM needs. They want one product that includes everything necessary to get the job done," says Connie Koch, founder and lead developer of RedHorse.

Company officials describe it as an "account-centric application," as it lets users "manage all aspects of their customer relationship." Among other functionalities, it lets users follow leads and opportunities as well as manage contracts, and is "designed to help users capture Web site leads," company officials say.   RedHorse CRM v2.4 also has an enhanced screen designer that includes custom fields in its upper quadrant, as well as improved import from GoldMine. It has a built-in e-mail client and integration with Outlook for mass e-mail campaigns, and lets users manage quoting and sales forecasting, as well as interact with customers through an inline help desk. It's compatible with QuickBooks. RedHorse Systems, Inc. is currently developing both a Web version and Spanish language version of RedHorse CRM. ...

Dimension Data, an IT products and services provider, and Sword Ciboodle, a vendor of business software and services, have announced joint implementation of a pan-European contact center product for Sony Europe's Consumer Electronics division.

The product was designed and managed by Dimension Data and Sword Ciboodle, and is based on Sword Ciboodle's process-driven CRM software.

Case-mate for iPhone, Jobscope's CRM, Business Card Phone Scanner, Aegis on Gartner

January 12, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane's "Off Minor:"

Case-mate, which designs accessories for mobile devices and electronics, has announced the launch of "a new brand experience," not "a brand new experience," called "I Make My Case."   It's a Web site letting users create their own original composition by re-mixing the designs of graphic artists, including Joshua Davis, Deanne Cheuk, Thomas Hooper, Matt Moore, Hannah Stouffer, Ray Frenden, Anthony Yankovic, Nigel Dennis, Shadow Chen, Chuck Anderson and others whose names might mean something to the appropriate cognoscenti, First Coffee pleads ignorance.   Or you can just buy a pre-designed case from the site.

Budding Van Goghs can "choose all elements of their case," company officials say, "starting with the background color scheme and shade. From there they can pull in a variety of elements, including artist-rendered illustrations such as dinosaur skulls, mushroom caps, gems and doodles to ink blots to images of hands and lips, just to name a few." Effects with kaleidoscope, monochromatic palette or mirror options are available as well. 

Shashi Reddy, case-mate's founder and CEO, says consumers "choose their artist, then use their mouse to pick from the various design options, clicking and dragging their selection to a blank canvas that represents the back of the iPhone with its exact dimensions."   From there, either save the design or add it to the cart and check out. It uses a 3D printing process that embeds inks directly with the case -- "ensuring that it will not scratch or abrade with daily use," company officials say.
Pre-designed cases will be available for $34.99 and customized made-to-order cases will be available for $39.99 per case. Cases designed by the consumer typically arrive 7-10 days from purchase. 

One of the participating graphic artists, Joshua Davis, was named one of the Ten Most Creative People by the Internet Professional Publishers Association, and won the 2001 Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica in the category "Net Excellence," the highest honor in international digital art and design.

Verizon SMB Internet, Intrinsyc, Metatron, Kiva's Respect 7, Cutting Edge Information, XCO Springboard, AltiGen

January 11, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Gustav Holst's The Planets suite. Yes, we're quite highbrow here at First Coffee. It was our New Year's resolution, to improve and broaden the music played here at the sprawling headquarters just outside of Milwaukee, get off the Frank Sinatra treadmill:

Small and medium-sized businesses now can get Verizon Internet access coupled with automatic wireless broadband backup, according to Verizon officials.   White gloves included: "This gives small- and medium-sized business customers Internet access along with the peace of mind that comes with having a wireless backup plan in place," says Carrie Gray, Verizon Business executive director of SMB solutions marketing, adding that their "white-glove managed installation approach" is used.   The product, catchily named Verizon Internet Dedicated Access with Mobile Broadband, routes business traffic to the Verizon Wireless 3G EV-DO broadband wireless network in the event of a service disruption. Company officials are pitching it as "ideal" for businesses with distributed locations, who primarily use IDA for outbound traffic, Web research or point-of-sale transactions. 

The broadband backup over the Verizon Wireless network is intended to give SMB customers an alternative to traditional wireline business-continuity, Verizon officials say, offering "high speed at a low cost." It has two linked ADTRAN NetVanta 3200 routers -- one connected to the primary T1 access source and the other featuring a 3G wireless Network Interface Module designed for use with the Verizon Wireless network.
"Small and mid-size businesses, across a variety of vertical industries, seek the same resilient, reliable networks of their large counterparts," said Gary Bolton, vice president of global marketing, ADTRAN.

Better Cell Phones, ICT and SMB, NSR, Cisco and TASER, Mobile Phone Xchange

January 4, 2010

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is ABC's "When Smokey Sings:"

Touch screens, open OS and Internet access are all great, but consumers are asking cellular handset vendors to make a better actual, well, phone. So finds market research firm In-Stat. "In many cases vendors have been so focused on making complex camera phones, music phones or mobile Internet devices, they have lost sight of the fact that phone functionality is mediocre at best," says Frank Dickson, In-Stat analyst. The firm conducted a survey of over 1,300 respondents, asking "What features are desired on your next phone?" The top three responses were better connectivity, better audio and simplicity. You know, where you don't have to press a finger over your ear to hear.
In-Stat officials say that in the short term "a limited competitive advantage can be created by bringing to market new hardware features and form factors. Real advantages, however, will be created through the integration and improved performance of existing features." Sure consumers want better displays, audio, HD video, and connectivity.

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