TMC Labs 2003 Innovation Awards: Part I
Each year, TMC Labs handpicks the leading innovative products and
services within the call center industry for its TMC Labs Innovation
Awards, and each year they have become more popular --- this year we
received more than 200 applications! This is a good thing, but it is also
extraordinarily challenging. While we are honored that more companies than
ever have applied for this award, it has made it much more difficult to
pick the 'distinctive' innovators in our industry, as there were so many
innovative products to choose from.
It had been our goal to narrow the field down to approximately 20 winners,
but picking an arbitrary number would have done a disservice to many
innovative products. In fact, we could have easily chosen 50 products we
loved from the applications, but we really wanted to find the truly unique
products; products with features not often seen in competing products. We
searched long and hard for the cr'me de la cr'me, which meant we had to
exclude many applications from the winners' circle. Nevertheless, it is
important to note that there are a great deal of unique products among
those entered that could not be judged winners.
TMC Labs researched each of the applications, checked customer references
and eventually arrived at our winners' list, which consists of 25 unique
and innovative companies. We knew it would be impossible to squeeze all 25
winners into a single issue, and TMC Labs' trademark is 'quality' over
'quantity,' so to avoid sacrificing our very detailed analysis of each of
the winners, the awards will be presented in two parts. (Part 2 will
appear in the October issue of this magazine.)
So, without further ado, we present the winners of the TMC Labs Innovation
Awards. Congratulations to the winners!
- Tom Keating, Chief Technology Officer & Executive Technology Editor,
AltiGen Communications, Inc.
AltiContact Manager - Call Center Solution
Altigen is one of the true pioneers of the PC-PBX and IP-PBX market
and, in fact, was the first company to launch a PC-PBX running on the
Windows NT Server platform. We still remember the day Altigen sent us a
pre-configured Windows NT server with a Quantum telephony card inside that
could handle analog trunks and extensions, as well as VoIP capabilities.
We were able to move the Quantum card to our own Windows NT Server Dell
machine and turn a Dell computer into a fully functional PC-PBX! Even
today, Altigen continues to lead the way in innovation in the PC-PBX and
We were impressed with Altigen's AltiContact Manager (ACM) system, which
features an IP-PBX call processing telephony architecture that provides
full availability, non-blocking scalability and excellent system growth.
The AltiWare system's design integrates digital, analog and VoIP trunks,
IP and analog extensions, voice mail, auto-attendant and other voice
processing resources, even integrated call center capabilities, all on the
same high-performance chassis.
AltiContact Manager was designed to support inbound, outbound or blended
contact centers and is targeted at contact centers of 12 to 500 agents.
AltiContact Manager is a turnkey IP hardware/software system for inbound,
outbound or blended contact centers. Each ACM chassis will support up to
128 active agents with up to 500 active agents in a multiple chassis or
One of the innovative aspects of this system is its out-of-the box
integration with leading CRM solutions, which eliminates integration
headaches and reduces costs and implementation times. AltiGen provides
built-in integration with other applications such as Microsoft CRM,
Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange, as well as Goldmine and ACT!.
This integration comes in very handy when handling inbound calls. Inbound
calls are routed with AltiGen's intelligent call routing, caller I.D. or
integrated IVR. Using the CRM integration, businesses can automatically
'screen-pop' CRM records. With this automated screen pop and delivery of
customer information to the agent or service representative, businesses
can significantly reduce transaction times.
The AltiContact Manager platform has excellent VoIP capabilities. First,
the IP gateway is built into the system, thus there is no need to have
additional equipment at the remote site. AltiGen's Alti-IP 600 IP agent
telephone can be plugged directly into a DSL or cable modem and function
as a true agent extension anywhere in the world.
Aspect Communications Corporation
Aspect Scheduled Callback
While other companies offer a callback option for callers waiting in an
incoming call queue, Aspect's Scheduled Callback has taken an innovative
approach by integrating this function with workforce management; i.e., the
scheduling of agent resources. Scheduled Callback integrates with the
Aspect eWorkforce Management scheduling and forecasting product to match
contact center resources with customer needs and enables customers to
schedule a time for an agent to call them back, instead of waiting on
The solution helps solves two major issues within the call center. First,
it helps solve the issue of 'call abandonment,' which can result in added
costs from repeated redials to a toll-free number, or worse, losing
dissatisfied customers to competitors. Second, it matches agent
availability with call volumes so that contact centers are never over- or
Aspect's Scheduled Callback offers customer callers various callback times
based on business rules involving estimated wait time, staff schedules and
service-level parameters. For customers in the queue, Scheduled Callback
automatically calculates the best options from staff schedules and contact
center objectives. The caller can choose from available callback times in
the near term or select a preferred period for which the system will
pinpoint a suitable time. Callbacks can be initiated from the telephone as
well as via a Web page. At the appropriate time, the system initiates a
callback and matches the outbound call with an agent with the appropriate
skills to handle the call. TMC Labs was quite impressed with the way this
innovative approach can help contact centers can lower costs through fewer
abandoned calls, reduced toll charges, smoother staffing and higher
overall customer satisfaction.
With the recent Federal Trade Commission's Do-Not-Call (DNC) rules soon
to be enforced, having a predictive dialer that is compliant with the new
rules is absolutely imperative. There was a recent controversy in our
industry involving an analyst's review of several leading predictive
dialers (including Castel's) and whether some of the predictive dialers
'could' adhere to the new FTC rules and ensure compliance. We will steer
clear of that controversy and simply stick to the facts.
Castel submitted their DirectQuest predictive dialer, which is indeed
quite innovative. First, unlike many predictive dialers that use DSPs to
detect the 'hello' of the answering party, DirectQuest is one of only a
few predictive dialers that is capable of 100 percent answer detection and
100 percent disconnect detection. Essentially, it uses ISDN's D-channel to
determine exactly when the carrier network has connected the call and the
remote party has answered. We should point out that Castel is not unique
in its usage of the carrier's signaling protocols to accurately determine
the call status. In fact, VXI USA's PDS predictive dialer (also a TMC Labs
Innovation Awards winner this year) does this also, and supports not only
ISDN, but SS7, R2 and other digital signals from the carrier network to
get precise call analysis and call status.
However, Castel has some other unique and innovative features up its
sleeve. While standard predictive dialers are designed to place outbound
calls without an agent on the line and then transfer 'live answered calls'
to an available agent, DirectQuest can proactively manage both inbound and
outbound customer telephone interactions using a variety of capabilities
including preview, 'managed auto' and predictive dialing as well as the
routing of inbound calls and the maximization of agent productivity (also
known as 'blended' operations).
On inbound calls, DirectQuest can use the incoming ANI (automatic
number identification) information to identify which agent the caller
spoke to last. If that agent is available, the call can then be routed to
him or her. Additionally, DirectQuest can instantaneously access the
account information and route the call to the accounts receivable
department if the account is past due. For outbound calls, agents are able
to hear the first 'hello,' so they are able to determine the mood of the
prospect and react accordingly.
Other important features includes the ability to provide different ANI
information for each call placed, centralized call center management,
distributed telephony switching for multisite centers, silent monitoring,
coaching, supervisor barge and announcement playing. These features add
real value to the end user customer without the expense and issues
associated with multiple product integration.
We all know that it costs more to gain new customers than it does to
retain your existing customers. Center Partners' Smart Save is an
innovative automated business intelligence-modeling product that was
designed to preserve customer retention if 'saving' a particular customer
makes strategic sense for the business. It works by compiling all
available behavioral data about an individual customer and models those
data against the total customer database. Smart Save builds customer
profiles, comparing each customer to every other current and past
customer. The resulting information is used two ways: first, to score
customer risk and value (likelihood that the customer will leave and the
total estimated lifetime value of the customer); and second, to understand
the customer's likelihood of purchasing certain products and upgrades.
At the agent level, Smart Save can push real-time, customer-specific
information to the desktop, informing the agent about the customer across
multiple categories. For example, it might identify a customer as having a
high customer lifetime value score as well as a high risk for churn. In
such a case, Smart Save would inform the agent what action would most
likely save this customer. On the other hand, if the customer has a
negative customer lifetime value score and a high risk for churn, Smart
Save could indicate to the agent that he or she should politely deactivate
the customer without an attempted save, reducing the average handle time
and improving service levels.
Using Smart Save, a company can increase the customer save rate, and/or
provide a business with more strategic control over the customers who it
is choosing to save based on estimated customer lifetime value. While we
should point out that many companies have developed risk/value models,
they don't tactically apply these models where it really counts at
customer-facing point of contact, i.e., the agents. Smart Save is a true
innovator in that it combines the business' customer behavior modeling
with the agent's desktop application to drive the desired results.
Epicor Software Corporation
Clientele Self-Service Portal
Clientele Self-Service Portal provides customers with access to
information and answers to their questions, all at the customer's
convenience. With Clientele Self-Service Portal, customers can submit
support calls as well as check on the status of open calls. In addition,
customers can view their service agreements, returned merchandise
authorizations (RMAs) and products they have purchased directly over the
Web. Clientele Self-Service Portal includes an online knowledge base,
allowing customers to help themselves to information at anytime and from
anywhere in the world. In addition to delivering increased customer
satisfaction, the Clientele Self-Service Portal can dramatically reduce
the number of first-level calls made to the support department. Online
self-service from Clientele allows support staff to concentrate on solving
more complicated problems while reducing support costs. Also, because the
information exchanged through the Clientele Self-Service Portal is
integrated with the support center, service representatives are always
up-to-date on customer accounts and issues.
Clientele Self-Service Portal takes advantage of the benefits of the
Microsoft .NET Platform to further increase customer satisfaction and
enterprise efficiency. Epicor claims to be the first CRM portal solution
built from the ground up on the Microsoft .NET Framework, which delivers
extensive flexibility, scalability and customization capabilities as well
as quick and easy integration. Clientele Self-Service Portal employs
Visual Studio .NET as its customization tool. Utilization of this industry
standard means hiring developers to complete customizations is cheaper and
easier. Clientele Self-Service Portal also includes a SDK for
customizations. The SDK installs directly into Visual Studio .NET,
providing code samples and online help for developers tasked with
extending the integration between the Self-Service Portal and Clientele
Customer Support. With the SDK, developers can modify existing
self-service Web parts or create new parts that link directly into the
Clientele Self-Service Portal's benefits are two-fold. First, it provides
an easy-to-use Web interface offering convenient anywhere, anytime access
for customers to product and service information as well as answers to
their questions. Second, it offers customers the opportunity to resolve
certain issues without calling the support center, saving the customers'
time and the company's money and improving the call center efficiency.
For a call center to be truly successful, analyzing data and generating
meaningful reports is critical to ensuring quality of service and customer
satisfaction. To do that, you must measure not only call volumes, but
conflict resolution, customer satisfaction and a range of other variables.
Another problem is that there is so much information and no easy way to
view it in a centralized location and in an organized fashion. etalk
Advisor, a browser-based evaluation and analysis tool, solves these
problems by delivering easily accessible, detailed information on the
quality and productivity of customer contact personnel. Advisor
automatically collects productivity statistics from an ACD or other
business systems and pairs that information with quality data from
evaluations to provide a complete view of the agents' performance. Users
can even import data into Advisor from ACD/PBX systems, spreadsheets, MIS
reports, sales and HR databases, e-mail and other sources. SQL and ODBC
compatibility enables you to report across agents, groups, contact centers
and regions. Advisor features a number of graphical and easy-to-use
standard reporting formats. You can also customize your own reports using
Crystal Decisions' open report designer.
Advisor also incorporates innovative remote evaluation capabilities. This
allows administrators to download agent information from the Advisor
database to a remote PC or portable device. A manager can then conduct
evaluations from that remote device and upload completed reviews to the
Advisor system. This feature lets managers work independently of network
connections and allows multiple reviewers to conduct simultaneous and
consistent agent evaluations.
Another important feature is that users can set improvement guidelines and
quality assurance plans by agent, agent type, call type, service type or
virtually any other criteria. Advisor then gives you a wide range of
evaluation options, including a single-page, HTML-linked format that
allows fast access to agent-related data. We were impressed by the
skills-mining feature that allows users to create a custom, user-defined
scoring model based on Advisor data. This feature ensures that customers
receive optimum service and that agent deficiencies are quickly identified
and corrected. Using Advisor, call centers can enhance the quality of
their agents, which will translate into higher customer satisfaction and
higher job satisfaction, resulting in a reduced turnover rate.
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, Inc.
Network IP Contact Center
Genesys Network IP Contact Center is designed for telecommunications
companies and service providers relying on carrier-grade IP soft switches.
Network IP Contact Center extends the benefits of Genesys' contact center
software to carriers or service providers that are offering managed and/or
hosted contact center services to enterprises.
Using Network IP Contact Center's innovative architecture, users can
deliver all the feature-rich functionality formerly available only in
traditional telephony environments all from the service provider/telco
network. Genesys Network IP Contact Center provides a platform-independent
solution that allows enterprises to maintain a full-featured contact
center suite of applications, while allowing them to migrate to a hybrid
or pure IP-based environment at their own pace.
Genesys Network IP Contact Center tightly integrates the Genesys Network
Routing engine, soft switch and IP backbone to create a unique end-to-end
solution that allows service providers to deploy more revenue-generating
services to enterprise customers. Genesys told us that their first
deployment of Network IP Contact Center in Japan will help carriers and
service providers gain more market share in a region traditionally
dominated by NTT DoCoMo. As part of the rollout of Network IP Contact
Center, Genesys is using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) as a standard
to interconnect with soft switches to provide 'toll-free' services for
VoIP solutions deployed in the network.
With Network IP Contact Center, Genesys is breaking new ground by
extending its contact center capabilities to the broader IP-managed
services market. By providing IP '800,' or Free Dialed Number (FDN)
services, including number translation, Genesys is playing a key role in
bringing FDN functionality to small and medium-sized businesses in Japan.
TMC Labs hopes this innovative approach does well in Japan and eventually
extends across the Pacific Ocean to the U.S., where we would like to see
managed service adoption grow.
Headsets are a staple within call centers, though some call center agents
would argue that headsets are the bane of their existence. You may be
asking yourself, 'What could be so innovative about a headset?' We thought
the same thing when GN Netcom applied for this award. Even we were
surprised at just how innovative and advanced headsets have become since
their early beginnings. GN Netcom's 9120 introduces hands-free, wire-free
mobility with a unique conferencing capability which we will detail later.
One unique feature of the 9120 is that it works up to an amazing 300 feet
away from its charging station. The fact that it's completely wireless
means that agents don't need to remember to disconnect their headset
before getting up. Anyone who has used a 'wired headset' has inevitably
experienced the headset wire knocking over a drink or having his or her
ear or head yanked when forgetting to disconnect the headset.
What is truly innovative about this product is its conferencing
capability, which eliminates the hassle of being confined to a conference
room and yelling into a speakerphone. Multi-unit conferencing enables up
to four individual GN 9120 units to be synched into one conference call.
Once a connection has been established, users wishing to participate in
the call simply 'synch' their headsets to the same charging station. The
originator will be notified through a beep on his or her headset that
additional users wish to participate in the call, at which point
authorization can be granted. Those granted access will experience a
discrete and clear conference call while having the freedom to spread out
within a 300-foot range. In addition, GN Netcom offers a USB adaptor for
the 9120, which makes it compatible with all VoIP applications.
The GN 9120 transmits on the 2.4 GHz frequency and uses the Digital Spread
Spectrum protocol initially developed for secure military communications.
The signal switches channels 90 times per second, providing security and
privacy while ensuring that the signal does not interfere with other
signals in the 2.4 GHz spectrum such as WiFi or Bluetooth. Other nice
features include good battery life, nice ergonomic design and the ability
to switch from wearing the headset over-the-ear to over-the-head. One
final cool feature is the optional robotic lifter, which is a robotic arm
that picks up and hands up the phone so the user can freely roam the
office and receive phone calls.
After examining this product, a TMC Labs engineer exclaimed, 'This has got
to be the most innovative call center-related product I have ever seen!
This is the granddaddy of all the Innovation Awards! Wow!' Before we get
to the product, first let's provide a primer. As we know, in call centers,
the pace is fast, the demands unrelenting and the stress is ever
increasing. The result of an agent's stress is burnout, anger, worry,
tension and depression. These symptoms then translate into bottom-line
issues such as unscheduled agent absenteeism, turnover, short- and
long-term disability payouts and rising use of healthcare benefits. There
are also other indirect effects of stress such as customer complaints,
error rates, escalations, increased response times, poor call quality and
low customer satisfaction ratings as well as decreased customer lifetime
value. In addition to agents, stress affects call center management as
well. Contact center managers, team leaders, supervisors and directors are
also subject to the stressors of a call center.
HeartMath hopes to come to the rescue with its innovative biometric
feedback Freeze-Framer product, which is a PC-based software package that
allows users to 're-calibrate' between stressful events. The company
states, 'The shift from a stressed to a balanced state of mind can result
in a dramatic increase in performance and the quality of care given to
customer-clients.' Who could argue with that?
The Freeze-Framer software package includes a finger sensor that detects
heart rate and pulse and sends information to a computer. The information
is interpreted and displayed on the screen as the user's heart rate. The
program gathers data for 10 seconds, then displays a real-time graph of
the user's heart rhythms. As the user's physiologic responses become more
balanced, he or she can see that on the screen. There are three colorful
games designed to support the user in learning and practicing the
technique. Each session can be saved and then reviewed for a later
measurement of progress. These sessions will help users recalibrate
themselves and deal with customers more effectively. The information sent
from the heart during a stressful situation, momentary feelings of panic
or anxiety, has a profound affect on the brain's ability to function,
including performance, coordination and reaction speeds. Once the user
sees that information and interprets it, the Freeze-Framer technology
allows for balancing and restoring proper functioning of the nervous
system. This rebalancing reduces the stress of the moment, and reduces
blood pressure and stress symptoms such as sleeplessness, indigestion,
anxiety and tension that affect agent performance over the long haul.
HeartMath Freeze-Framer claims that it is the first and only
scientifically validated performance enhancement and stress reduction
interactive learning system with biometric feedback that quantifiably
and dramatically reduces stress while boosting the productivity of
agents and managers. While we can't validate the company's claims at this
point, the concept behind what they are trying to do is very innovative.
This is perhaps the most innovative product designed to improve call
center efficiency (by reducing stress) we have ever seen, and that
includes ACDs, workforce management solutions and other call center
technologies! Well done, HeartMath, we are not easily impressed!
Inova LightLink - Enterprise Edition
When we saw that a wallboard manufacturer had applied for the TMC Labs
Innovation Awards, our initial reaction was, 'Boring! What's so innovative
about call center wallboards? They've been around forever.' Well, we were
Inova LightLink - Enterprise Edition is much more than a traditional call
center wallboard display. First, Inova claims LightLink is the first
digital (software-based) solution to employ distributed component
technology as opposed to the client-server model followed by their
competitors. When multiple instances of a component are distributed in
this manner, they also provide redundant fail-over for one another. This
eliminates any single point of failure in the LightLink core, providing
high reliability that is crucial when dealing with mission-critical data.
Also, this architecture supports efficient and reliable transfer of
massive amounts of data in real-time, as well as providing new levels of
security and administration.
LightLink employs an advanced Windows NT/2000 security model that
leverages a customer's existing network security settings. User privileges
are tied to an individual's network log-in, not a specific computer,
enabling roaming profiles. All individual and group permissions are
configurable from within a single, easy-to-use security application. In
addition to user security, LightLink provides full data access control and
data stream encryption to control access to sensitive data.
Additionally, this product drives contact center optimization through
performance management, activity monitoring and reporting. This
information can be presented in any number of formats such as digital
dashboards for self-correction and monitoring, high-visibility displays
for team performance monitoring, reports for management visibility and
control, e-mail or wireless alerts for problem notification, or other
formats. This information can also be published to a data warehouse for
historical trending and analysis.
LightLink rapidly provides significant results, including measurable
productivity increases, time-savings and cost-savings. Inova told TMC Labs
that LightLink provides immediate results that typically achieve a
complete return on investment within 6 to 12 months.
Left Bank Solutions, Inc.
Monet Workforce Management System
There are several good workforce management solutions on the market today.
The problem is, they are often priced too high for small to mid-sized
contact centers. Monet Workforce Management System (WFMS) is the first
complete, end-to-end workforce optimization solution designed for small
and mid-sized contact centers, and the only end-to-end workforce
management solution of which we are aware that is priced under $5,000.
Until now, small centers had to resort to using antiquated Erlang
calculators and manual spreadsheets to produce call center forecasts and
schedules. The Monet WFMS includes all the 'must-have' features needed,
including forecasting, scheduling, staffing, intra-day management and
integration with ACDs to provide real-time agent adherence features.
In addition to its plethora of features and its unique targeting of the
small to-mid-sized call center, Monet is extremely quick to deploy'perhaps
the fastest in the industry. With a built-in self-installer, Monet can be
installed by someone with little to no technical knowledge in only a few
minutes. In addition to its built-in import feature, it has the unique
ability to generate the call center's call history using the Quick Data
Builder so that within minutes, the call center can begin to create
forecasts and schedules. Compare this to the lengthy consulting and
training processes of other companies!
Some of its other features include shrinkage, maximum tolerance and
abandon levels built into forecasts; the ability to forecast incoming
calls, e-mails and other non-call activities; 'what-if' scenarios to see
how a change in volume would affect the center; and the ability to manage
seasonal and holiday volume through Distinctive Day forecasts.
TMC Labs can unequivocally state that the Monet Workforce Management
System has all the features necessary for a small to mid-sized call center
to run a 'world class' contact center just like the 'big boys' all in one
easy-to-install and easy-to-use application at a fraction of the cost of
many competing products.
Linktivity, a division of SpartaCom Technologies, Inc.
Many of us have used some sort of collaboration software to be able to
remotely view slide presentations or be able to see someone else's shared
screen for product demonstrations or collaborations. Typically, these
collaboration solutions use a hosted model, which means that users pay a
rental fee each month for using one of these hosted products and never
truly 'own' the product. Linktivity aims to change this model with WebDemo,
an easy-to-use, in-house server software solution that provides users with
all the tools necessary to conduct a highly interactive, Web-based
meeting. WebDemo lets users employ the Internet to extend the reach and
impact of their ideas to virtually anybody, anywhere in the world. All a
user needs to conduct or join a meeting is a computer, an Internet
connection and a phone line (for the audio conference).
Available in a cost-effective server package, WebDemo is available in 3,
5, 10, 15, 20 and up to 500 or more concurrent user licenses. As an
example, a 10-user license package permits any 10 people to be connected
at one time, from any PC. Unlike other Web conferencing products, the
licenses aren't specific to any person or PC.
While online with WebDemo, a user can hold a meeting, conduct a training
session, perform a sales presentation, demonstrate software live, view,
annotate or edit documents, share applications and even do live video
conferencing. Linktivity told TMC Labs that their video conferencing
feature offers up to 30 frames per second (fps), while most competitors
offer only 15 fps. Additional unique features include built-in polling and
surveying, the ability to transfer files, document management and the
ability to conduct a Web tour.
One of the most technologically innovative aspects of this solution is
that it doesn't require client software or a plug-in. WebDemo uses
browser-based Java technology that allows attendees to participate using
only a Web browser and an Internet connection. There are no uploads to a
server such as a user would need for an ASP/hosted solution. Because users
have complete command of the appearance and feel of the user interface,
they have total control of the data they display and are not uploading
potentially confidential information to another person's server.
There are several ASP-model (hosted) CRM applications on the market today.
TMC Labs won't waste time extolling the benefits of hosted CRM
applications, since those benefits are well known to our educated readers.
However, there has always been a serious 'room for improvement' issue that
TMC Labs has had with these hosted CRM application companies. We have
always wished they would offer the ability for end users to modify and
customize the application themselves using open standards. Typically,
users get a canned, 'out-of-the-box' experience from these companies, who
then charge users for any extra customizations they require.
With salesforce.com's new product, sforce, users can say goodbye to static
and closed hosted applications and hello to dynamic, end user-customizable
applications using open standards. Essentially, sforce 'opens the hood' to
the salesforce.com engine compartment to let users do whatever they want
using standards such as XML, SOAP and WSDL. The idea is to extend
salesforce.com by making the underlying infrastructure that is used to
deliver its hosted CRM service available to other software developers.
With sforce, developers will now be able to create and rent out hosted
software services of their own.
salesforce.com has partnerships with Microsoft, BEA, Sun and Borland.
These partnerships are based on a common commitment to Web services
standards (including XML, SOAP and WSDL) that TMC Labs knows will become
as important as HTTP. Because of these major partnerships, salesforce.com
said its sforce developers can use their favorite tools, including Sun's
Sun ONE Studio tools, Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET, Borland's JBuilder
and BEA's WebLogic Workshop 8.1.
The sforce Developer Program provides sample code, technical support,
tools and salesforce.com Developer Edition. The development tool kit is
free, with applications served on the platform costing $50 per end user,
plus $1 per megabyte per month. Most important, developers don't pay
anything until their apps go live.
sforce is unique with its strong premise of openness and success. Not only
can any developer access all the documentation, code, samples and
community necessary to build with sforce for free, but companies pay only
for applications that have been successfully deployed. This model stands
out in contrast to the traditional CRM extension approach, whereby
companies are required to spend thousands of dollars just to begin
development and thousands more on deployment, regardless of whether the
project was successful. Considering that over 60 percent of CRM
deployments fail, TMC Labs tips our hat to salesforce.com's innovative
approach to providing a truly open solution, solving CRM deployment
nightmares (including wasted costs), while at the same time giving
developers the opportunity to resell their applications.
Salesnet Extended is an online CRM solution that specializes in automating
and reinforcing the sales processes and workflows that help sales teams
around the world maximize their selling potential. Salesnet Extended users
can easily access reports, while also having their critical sales and
marketing data come to life via a fully customizable CRM dashboard. One of
the key innovations of SalesNet is that the company built 'workflow
processes' into its core application. It follows the customer throughout
the entire lifecycle from the first contact to follow-ups to accounting
collections. Understanding that the three fundamental constructs in CRM
are the contact, the process and the team, Salesnet claims to be the first
online CRM solution to build the notion of the team and team selling into
the architecture of the system.
Knowing that security is a key worry for companies deploying hosted CRM
systems, Salesnet developed the first secure offline CRM solution built on
Microsoft SQL Server Desktop and the Microsoft .NET framework and
implemented it with high security in mind. Other offline CRM products use
unencrypted XML or Excel-based spreadsheets to share data between the
offline product and the online database.
Salesnet features comparative analysis and historical snapshot
reporting to easily analyze changes, additions and deletions to critical
business reports (such as forecasting). In addition, Salesnet's wireless
application enables customers to increase the productivity of their sales
teams by having anywhere, anytime access to their critical data from any
wireless connection, whether via a cell phone, PDA or any other wireless
device. It works even without an Internet connection and can handle all
the complex synchronization required to keep data up-to-date.
Salesnet's Process Builder allows the customer to assign usage rights to a
process for specific positions, teams or users to ensure everyone is using
an appropriate process. This ensures that the inside sales team does not
mistakenly use the accounting process that was designed strictly for the
accounting department. As the salesperson moves along the deal, the
Process Builder automatically prompts with the information needed for the
next step. By utilizing this defined process, customers are able to easily
track and manage ongoing deals and ensure that each salesperson,
regardless of location, is following the same process. Too often,
customers get lost in CRM databases because the CRM databases merely
'warehouse' the data and don't proactively analyze the data and 'push'
business processes and rules to the salesperson or agent, resulting in
'lost in the shuffle customers' and causing lower sales and lower customer
satisfaction. TMC Labs was quite impressed with Salesnet's innovative
approach to monitoring a customer throughout the entire business process
as well as their excellent offline data access capabilities.
SER's TSP500 is SER Solutions' latest predictive dialing switch, and one
the company reports is in compliance with all state and federal
regulations. With increased scalability and functionality, the TSP500
supports up to 288 agents, and using SER's patented Smart Pace VI dialing
algorithm, it has a highly successful connect rate. In addition, the
TSP500 enables contact centers to consolidate their operations through the
use of integrated VoIP, connecting remote agents to the predictive dialer
switch. Enhanced caller I.D. functionality allows contact center operators
to display both the telephone number and designated name of the caller or
client for effective campaign management and compliance with FCC and FTC
TMC Labs was very impressed that the TSP500 can scale to 288 agents,
provide VoIP functionality, enhanced caller I.D. capabilities and have a
high connect rate all on a single system. To achieve similar capacity,
scalability and functionality, many predictive dialers would require the
user to purchase multiple systems, which then must be 'daisy-chained' and
The new switch provides contact center operators significant cost savings
through the ability to consolidate equipment and locations by leveraging
the increased agent capacity of the TSP500. Now, rather than supporting
288 agents at multiple locations, a contact center can use a TSP500 at a
single location and support up to 288 agents located at the same contact
center as the TSP500, or using VoIP can support agents located at one or
more remote centers. In addition, the TSP500 provides critical caller I.D.
capabilities required by the FCC and FTC.
TMC Labs Innovation Award Winners To Be Featured In The October
Issue Of Customer Inter@ction Solutions:
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