Microsoft and Concentrix

British customer relationship management specialist and IT vendor Concentrix is now providing Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 as a hosted offering.
Concentrix has been implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM as an on-premise product within businesses for years, and the company describes itself as "a strong advocate" of on-premise CRM, but company officials say over recent months they've seen increasing demand for hosted systems. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 tends to be popular among small and medium-sized enterprises more for its front-office functions of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.

"The hosted model bests suits the requirements of some organizations. We're getting more and more inquiries about hosted, or software-as a-service CRM," says John Odell, Senior CRM Consultant at Concentrix, describing the firm as "product agnostic."

The key difference between Concentrix hosted and on-premise Microsoft CRM, he explains, is that with the hosted version, Concentrix holds the software and data on their servers in a data center. Concentrix personnel run and maintain the software and servers. Users, of course, simply access the CRM over the Internet.
"Just like an on-premise CRM system, companies can use their own data, fully integrate the software with Microsoft Outlook, and Concentrix can configure Microsoft CRM to meet the requirements of individual businesses," company officials say.

Odell says the Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a hosted product option is more popular with "organizations that need lower setup costs, less risk and quicker implementation times. We're catering for businesses that want to concentrate on their key activities, without having to spend money on IT hardware or employ highly skilled IT staff." The sort of company that's happy writing a check once a month to somebody else to take care of all the techy stuff.
Despite the increased interest in hosted CRM, Concentrix officials say their bread and butter is still best-of-breed on-premise CRM installations, such as Sage CRM, SalesLogix, and FrontRange's GoldMine as well as Microsoft.

Asked if Concentrix expects to see a shift from on-premise to hosted solutions, Odell says "probably the other way around. Hosted is a great way to get started with CRM and install a CRM culture. However, there are some limitations with hosted CRM, and they are by no means suited to everyone. It's likely that businesses that start off with hosted will soon see tangible benefits and, with proven ROI, will move away from a monthly-fee model to on-premise."

Concentrix is based in Mountsorrel, Leicestershire with a satellite office in central London.

Speaking of the Best Little Software Company in Redmond, Tellme Networks, a Microsoft subsidiary and pioneer of voice services, has announced their mobile voice service combining content and communications.
The voice-based service lets people press one button, say what they want and get it, whether that is to send a text, make a call or search for information. There's a version of this specifically for Windows phones due out this fall. Microsoft officials say this service "puts many phone functions behind a single button."
In a recent study conducted by Sanderson Studios and cited by Microsoft officials, more than 70 percent of respondents said that voice is superior to keypad or touch-based methods to perform some of the most popular mobile tasks. This includes looking up a business listing or location (78 percent), sending a text message (72 percent), placing a call (79 percent), getting information such as movies, weather, traffic or sports (77 percent), and getting directions (81 percent).
Windows phone users just press the side button of their phone to send a text by saying "text" to open a text box, then speak the text message and say "send" to send it to anyone in their contact list. They can also initiate a call simply by saying "call" and then the name of anyone in their contact list, and search the Web with Microsoft Live Search by speaking their request, such as "weather in San Francisco, California," "pizza in Kansas City," "movies" or "Mother's Day gift ideas." Hint, hint. You weren't going to forget, of course.

"Because it's so intuitive, we believe there is a real opportunity for voice to materialize as the leading user interface for the phone," says Dariusz Packzuski, senior director of consumer services at Tellme. Microsoft officials say it requires four touches and more than 20 keystrokes to find a business with the Apple iPhone, while it only takes one button push and one verbal command to find the same business with Tellme: "Tellme's research shows similar results for other tasks, such as making calls, sending text messages and conducting searches for content such as traffic, movies, news and sports."

Packzuski says Sprint has integrated voice access to the Live Search application on Sprint Instinct phones, and "we've seen impressive adoption of voice with three in every four search queries being initiated by voice."

Tellme will be available for free on Windows Mobile 6.5 phones in fall 2009 when the phones hit store shelves. Initially available in the Windows Marketplace for Mobile store, the service will also be available for free to mobile operators and carriers to embed "on-device."
There's something about this morning that's calling for a soundtrack a bit higher octane that finely-wrought jazz. So goodbye Dexter, hello Lou Reed, specifically the magnificent Live In Italy. Ah, there we go, that's better.
Sitel, a business process outsourcing vendor, has announced that Cricket Wireless has selected Sitel to provide bilingual customer care and technical support, taking inbound calls from Cricket customers who are using the company's voice and broadband services.

"Sitel understands that the wireless marketplace is highly competitive," says David Garner, president and chief executive officer for Sitel. "Companies like Cricket are turning to Sitel to apply best practices to ensure differentiating customer care, while reducing operating costs."

The BPO vendor provides customer service for over 16 wireless companies across North America, EMEA, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. The company has 60,000 associates in 27 countries, using on-shore, nearshore and offshore locations across 155+ facilities around the world. Sitel is privately held and majority owned by Canadian diversified company Onex Corporation.

Teradata has announced today that UniCredit Group, a financial international institution with branches in 22 European countries, has selected Teradata technology to implement its "CFO Data Warehouse."
The project's starting point is deployment of the Teradata Financial Logical Data Model. The Teradata Financial Logical Data Model supports the concept of load once and use many times, which means that data is collected in one central location and made available for multiple uses across the enterprise.

UniCredit Group will use the data warehouse to support such business initiatives as compliance, cost reduction and other functions. Company officials say the implementation of the CFO Data Warehouse will "guarantee the collection and use of all the data needed to support the principal CFO areas, such as asset and liability management, credit treasury, capital allocation, planning and control."
"During these challenging economic conditions, it is key to have detailed and relevant data which allows deep visibility into all divisions of the bank," says Domenico Ambrisi, head of Global Enterprise Services Data Warehouse, UniCredit Global Information Services. "The Teradata system at UniCredit will be capable of providing information based on the needs of the business."

Hermann Wimmer, Teradata president of Europe, Middle East and Africa, noted that "Basel II regulations, the pressure on revenue, demands to reduce costs, and the increased risk of doing business in today's financial environment demand that an institution have an integrated view of its business performance."

The announcement was made at the Teradata Universe, the annual summit dedicated to enterprise data warehousing, now underway in Istanbul.

Riverturn has followed up on the release of Easy Dials It, a dial application for the iPhone, with an app called VoiceCentral, now available in the Apple App Store.
The idea, according to company officials, is to make using Google Voice "as easy as using visual voicemail." The application offers access to voicemail stored on Google Voice, along with the ability to place calls and send SMS messages.
According to company officials it works with either GrandCentral or Google Voice, has a voicemail retrieval capability and lets you listen via earpiece or speaker. It lets you pause, rewind, or fast forward to any point in a message as it plays, create a new contact from the message info and store your password for auto-login. You can also view your call history or SMS conversations, send SMS messages via your Google account get a default startup screen and use everything on your iTouch as well.

VoiceCentral also supports four ways to place calls with your Google number displayed via caller ID -- call back the person that left a message with a single click, place new calls using the built-in keypad dialer, browse your existing iPhone contacts and select a number to dial or simply return missed or received calls directly from your call history, the way those of us too lazy to create new contacts do.

VoiceCentral costs $2.99, Easy Dials It costs $1.99 and Easy Dials It Lite is free.

Riverturn is a private technology firm specializing in consulting and software development headquartered in Durham, North Carolina.

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