First Coffee - Tehrani Awarded VoIP Nobel Prize, Cognitronics Announces Results, TeleTech Announces Upgrades, Alba Announces Brazilian Expansion
By David Sims
The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is “Road Ode,” by Loudon Wainwright III:
At the Stockholm Concert Hall yesterday, TMC President Richard Tehrani was awarded the inaugural Nobel Prize in Telecommunications for his contributions to Voice-over Internet Protocol telephony.
Presented by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, the 2006 telecom prize was created in an effort to “make the Nobel more relevant to the breathtaking technological advancements which contribute so much to world prosperity,” according to the King’s presentation remarks.
“Rarely do we see an idea, an invention, a technology so completely change the face of the modern world -- for the better,” King Gustaf said to the glittering assemblage of past winners, international jet-setters and dignitaries. “And of course it’s primarily thanks to the individual we’re honoring here today.”
Information technology has become one of the world’s most dynamic fields, and Tehrani is responsible for the founding of the Technology Marketing Corporation, or TMC, which has been at the forefront of cutting-edge trends within the industry. “This is the future, plain and simple,” Tehrani, resplendent in a salmon-pink tuxedo with ruffled shirt, told the audience during his acceptance speech. “I’m overwhelmed and honored by this award.”
Laureates welcomed Tehrani into their company. “Does this guy do that Skype (News - Alert) deal? I save beaucoup bucks on that puppy,” said Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 Literature honoree. Belgian chemist Ilya Priggone, the recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, said he hoped Tehrani could come over to his hotel and show him how to get the microphone hooked up. “Ever made a call on hotel international rates? Hoo boy,” he said to a reporter.
French actress Audrey Tautou, star of the upcoming film The Da Vinci Code and in attendance, told reporters she would be interested in doing a movie based on Tehrani’s life. “VoIP is the most exciting meme in the world today,” she said. “I am very fascinated with the possibilities of this technology for creativity, for business and for passion.”
Other attendees offered mixed opinions on the award. “ I think the guy who invented Velcro should have gotten one of these, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen -- that and duct tape,” said Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. And Canadian honoree Robert Mundell, winner of the 1999 laureate in Economics, said VoIP was a “passing fancy” that would “play havoc” with his “telecom investments.”
Overall reaction, however, was positive. The VoIP industry is certainly growing in popularity as a personal convenience and business tool, a fact Tehrani emphasized in his after-dinner comments at the Nobel Banquet in the famed Blue Hall of the City Hall of Stockholm.
Long time Nobel observers said it was unlikely more categories would be added in the foreseeable future. “Alfred Nobel established physics, chemistry, literature, medicine and peace,” said Ole Danbolt Mjos, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the prizes. “The Bank of Sweden established an economics prize in 1969, so we think this is quite enough innovation. Those who want a Nobel Prize for Planes That Actually Land On Time will have to wait. Get it? Have to wait? Ha ha. And people think we are too stuffy here. We show them.”
Strict confidentiality rules ensure that no nominees other than the winners of the prize are ever disclosed by the nominating committee, although it’s rumored that former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell was in the running, as were American author Toni Morrison, Irish rocker and political activist Bono and the film Brokeback Mountain, all of which by law must be shortlisted for any award ever given out anywhere.
Alba Spectrum Group, a CRM, ERP/MRP system integrator in Brazil, USA, Mexico and Europe, is planning a move to strategic partnership to resell, localize, implement PerformanceSoft/Actuate PBViews Performance Management Solution in Brazil and Latin America.
The company will be using their ERP implementations to multinational and Brazilian enterprises in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Belo Horizonte, Recife, Manaus and across Brazil to “open the door for PBViews projects,” according to company officials:
“As our research indicates, PBViews should find its performance management software market niche in the following Brazilian industries: telecommunication, financial, power, energy and others.”
TeleTech Holdings, Inc., a vendor of customer relationship management (CRM) and business process outsourcing (BPO) services, has added new functionality to three suites of the TeleTech OnDemand hosted contact center offering.
The new features, according to company officials, “support easy-to-access information that responds to customers’ needs, in addition to real-time measurement and coaching.”
Interactive voice response (IVR) and Web services automate “routine” interactions with customers. These features are now part of the TeleTech OnDemand suites for customer experience management, workforce optimization, and multichannel interaction routing.
Mark de la Vega, general manager TeleTech OnDemand services, said “with our hosted product, clients can tap into a globally-connected and highly scalable contact center environment with a simple broadband connection to our network.”
TeleTech claims that customers using its hosted contact center product can get “more than 50 percent in cost savings over building, integrating and maintaining their own environments.”
One of the improved suites is the multichannel interaction routing, which according to company officials “enables intelligent routing and self-service automation for improved customer interactions.”
Current automatic call distribution and computer telephony integration services have been enhanced with the addition of IVR, Web, and voice-portal self-service automation to resolve customers’ routine requests efficiently, thereby reducing the need for live agents.
Cognitronics Corporation has reported income from continuing operations of $.2 million, or $.03 per share on a diluted basis, for the quarter ended December 31, 2005 compared to income of $2.1 million, or $.33 per share on a diluted basis, a year ago.
Revenues from continuing operations for the fourth quarter were $4 million in 2005 and $4.9 million in 2004.
The company acquired ThinkEngine Networks, Inc. and divested its European distributorship operations, Dacon Electronics Plc. during the fourth quarter of 2005.
“From a market perspective, ThinkEngine represents diversification for Cognitronics,” said Brian J. Kelley, president and chief executive officer of Cognitronics. “With ThinkEngine’s VSR1000, we now have a broader product offering which uses our core AIN expertise with a purpose-built, SIP-based, VoIP product.”
The net loss for the three months ended December 31, 2005 was $46,000, or $.01 per share on a diluted basis, compared to net income of $1.8 million, or $.28 per share on a diluted basis in the comparable 2004 quarter. For the year ended December 31, the loss from continuing operations was $2.6 million, or $.44 per share on a diluted basis, on revenues of 6.7 million in 2005 compared to $.3 million, or $.06 per share on a diluted basis, in 2004.
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