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Technology Highlights
January 2001

A Quartet For Coping With Complex E-Commerce


2001 Editors' Choice Awards

High-Volume List And E-mail Solution From Gordano

Gordano Ltd. launched GLCommuni-cator, its solution for high-volume list management and e-mail delivery. GLCom-municator is highly scalable, offers a Java-enabled Web console and contains tools to simplify customer interactions via e-mail and the Internet, including dynamic message personalization, message post approval, file management, archiving, and database maintenance modules. The application links seamlessly with any existing ODBC database, merging critical list subscriber details into a single database. It is capable of handling more than one million e-mail distributions and includes extensive security features, automatic task restart and recovery abilities, and a management system for returned e-mails geared for improved productivity. GLCommunicator can be configured to deliver customized messages to millions of customers, using Mail Meta Language (MML) substitutions based on any field(s) in an existing ODBC or local database. The software's "job concentration technology" consolidates similar tasks into one job and processes them in a single operation. The product's Post Approval Console allows authorized managers to automatically check messages prior to transmission to ensure accuracy, monitor content and remove repetitions. Users may also tailor messages to a particular audience, targeting specific age groups, interests, etc. GLCommunicator extracts the necessary information from the data source and assembles the job, which is compressed to optimize use of system resources and bandwidth. The message is personalized and delivered only when the remote mail system has indicated acceptance. Undeliverable e-mail is immediately returned to its Return Email Management System, which automatically handles undeliverable messages and maintains the source database. Rather than simply deleting the necessary contact information, GLCommunicator can mark returned messages as undeliverable in the data source. Users can also set the product to mark an address as non-functioning based on a defined number of returned e-mails over a chosen period of time. An "automatic vote management" module enables authorized managers to poll any number of subscribers with a question. It collects responses, eliminates duplicate votes and sorts responses in a printable document. The system features streamlined report distribution and file management. Any number of files (open and hidden) can be associated with an account. The system supports all file types, including text, PDF, HTML, GIF, MPG and ZIP. Archives are maintained in native or HTML formats. The archive may be stored on the corporate Web site to maintain business-critical documents. By using e-mail as the transfer medium instead of the Web, GLCommunicator can be used behind firewalls and in secure environments, using encryption technologies if required.

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2001 Editors' Choice Awards

Chordiant Offers Unified CRM And Knowledge Management

During my conversation with Kevin Pasquinelli of Chordiant Software Inc., he made the point that business relationships are more than "business-to-business" or "business-to-consumer;" they are Business-to-Customer. While this may seem an oversimplification to some, it unmistakably reminds us where to focus our efforts for achieving success in any business venture, and Chordiant believes that CRM integration with the "back office" provides an enhanced customer contact center infrastructure. Its recently announced Knowledge System v2.0 is a modular advanced knowledge management system designed so companies can act on the wealth of information gathered from a variety of sources (e.g., Web sites, customer interactions, product sources and customer service representatives). Chordiant Knowledge System, combined with the Chordiant Unified CRM Solution, allows companies to provide highly customized responses to inquiries based on a combination of knowledge and information unique to individual customers, such as transactional history, behavioral information, customer preferences and demographic data. Chordiant's integrated approach ensures that responses to individuals are consistent with standardized business policies implemented across entire organizations. By acting on a combination of structured and unstructured data, the unified solution allows companies to take advantage of the increasing number of "informational inquiries" made via online self-service applications. Knowledge System v2.0 offers advanced FAQs (frequently asked questions) that "learn" in real-time and are automatically ranked according to the most frequently asked question. Answers are given in the form of documents (e.g., Word, text, PDF, HTML or audiovisual), URL links and memos. Additional features include Web-form support; Web self-service knowledge base search portals; a Java-based "vortex" knowledge engine that learns, over time, what knowledge is most valuable and automatically favors this knowledge in the future; and virtual "knowledge domains" where companies can provide business-to-business collaboration portals (sharable over the Internet) where individuals from multiple firms can share knowledge. The Chordiant Knowledge System is completely Web-based and supports interfaces via e-mail, Web browser, XML and WAP-enabled devices. The technology uses LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) to manage domain information and end-user profile data. Chordiant Know- ledge System offers features to optimize Web-based self-service capabilities, such as the ability to recognize users as individuals; providing access to data ("knowledge domains") relevant to each individual's relationship with the company; the ability to learn, over time, what knowledge is most valuable and automatically prioritizing this knowledge each time a request is made; and the incorporation of the combined, learned knowledge of consumers, CSRs and groups of individuals or communities. Chordiant's approach brings together knowledge with unified customer data pulled from multiple sources. The flexible XML-based architecture inherent in Chordiant Knowledge System enables ease of integration with Chordiant Workflow Server and Chordiant Foundation Server.

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2001 Editors' Choice Awards

Motive Mounts Olympus

Motive Communications, Inc. presents several reasons why "Webified" contact centers are not working, particularly in meeting the needs of companies establishing corporate e-business in the business-to-business realm. Rather than collaborative, many sites offer self-help/self-service not designed for complex e-business transactions. Others simply fail to respond to customers in a timely manner, if they respond at all. Some e-commerce concerns think that implementing a cyberfix solution will make their customer service problems go away. Customers must compose e-mails, describe problems on the phone and search for relevant content through generic searches that have little effect other than leaving customers cold.

Addressing the need for handling complex transactions, Motive's Olympus Vertical Solutions are intended as a comprehensive set of pre-packaged, embeddable components focused on specific vertical markets. Motive is providing its initial Olympus solutions for financial services, communications, energy and e-marketplaces, and describes them as providing "customer-powered" service by enabling companies to integrate customer care into their e-business applications. Motive states it is targeting traditional companies that want to take their enterprisewide service assets and advantages with them into the online environment and business-to business companies whose online success depends upon high-touch, hands-on service being tightly woven into the online experience. Olympus connects service into the online experience as a built-in feature so that, if a question or problem arises, customers can receive answers (by pushing a button on a Web page or during a transaction, for example) without abandoning the application to request service. Olympus determines who the customer is and what he/she is doing at the time of the question or problem, then uses this information to provide a relevant set of targeted answers and human experts. It accomplishes this by providing the technology infrastructure for bringing all of a company's service assets online, including knowledge bases, self-service content, employees, partners and suppliers. These "service networks" can span traditional call centers and service departments as well as remotely located experts in the e-business or partner companies.

Each vertical market solution includes embedded service components targeted to specific requirements in each industry, is delivered as extensible markup language (XML) Web services and can be managed using directories and tied into e-business applications' authentication mechanisms. Motive Olympus' best practices enable IT staffs, Motive consultants or systems integrators to define the specific content for delivering high-touch, customer-powered service experiences.

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2001 Editors' Choice Awards

SalesPerformer Suite From FirePond

FirePond's Sales Performer Suite is an integrated sales solution designed to provide all channels with guided selling capabilities, real-time customer and product information and automated, enterprisewide processes. Formerly the FirePond Application Suite, the new offering has undergone numerous architectural changes, and the company has transformed its FirePond Business Rules Engine into the SalesPerformer Configurator: a "brain in a jar" and the centerpiece of the suite. The Configurator is designed to provide powerful business intelligence to companies that need extensive sales configuration capabilities: it analyzes customer needs and provides personalized recommendations; configures large numbers of options, rules, constraints and relationships; models complex pricing, promotions and discounts; integrates with order management and other enterprise systems; imports legacy data; and deploys in multiple Web environments. At the core of all FirePond applications, the SalesPerformer Configurator is also sold independently.

The suite consists of sales channel-specific packages meant to address the specialized needs within each. Web Sales Performer is an Internet selling system for complex products and services that includes an interactive product catalog, product selection, customer needs analysis, proposal creation and order management online. It can compare alternate or competing products side by side and interfaces with fulfillment systems to track order status. Field SalesPerformer addresses the needs of a direct sales force, tailoring the selling process for each customer, including product selection and configuration, price quotes, proposal creation and order entry. Channel SalesPerformer allows distributors, agents, brokers or partners to increase selling effectiveness. It can capture, track and access customer data, generates branded proposals and contracts and streamlines channel management activities; e.g., lead management, product data updates and guided sales support.

All products within the suite are available separately along with additional options to tailor functionality for meeting specific customer needs, including: Process Server, for controlling the workflow of sales actions throughout the enterprise; Replication Server, for mobile sales forces; and Wireless Server, for companies using WAP-enabled devices.

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[ Return To The January 2001 Table Of Contents ]


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