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AMR Research Predicts E-Business Spending Will Stay Strong
News bites from across the CRM industry.
For the rest of the April 2001 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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At AMR Research's January strategy 21 conference, the overall mood was upbeat as analysts, financiers and industry leaders presented their prognosis on the economy. The Boston-based research company, which supplies market analysis on enterprise applications for global 1000 companies, shared the results of a survey it conducted at year-end 2000 of 100 companies with annual revenues of $500 or more. The results indicated that 87 percent of the companies planned to sustain or increase their budget initiatives on sales, customer and supplier management, and that 94 percent planned to sustain or increase their budget on trading exchange and B2B marketplace initiatives. Tony Friscia, president and CEO of AMR, noted that, "most e-business initiatives are very young."

While companies may continue to invest in e-business development, will anyone continue to invest in companies? Michael Mauboussin, chief U.S. investment strategist at Credit Suisse First Boston, noted that financiers were looking at companies with sustainable business models and were interested in investing in companies that "generate top-line growth and improved returns." Timothy McMahon, managing director, investment banking at Adams, Harkness & Hill, predicts fewer IPOs and smaller deals, weighted to the second half of 2001 and a very strong year for M&A caused by tighter credit and reduced access to capital markets. Peter Sobiloff, a venture capitalist (VC) with Insight Capital Partners, noted that, "this is the time VCs put money out, because valuation is reasonable." He said VCs want to invest in companies that have "solutions to complex business problems with a big value proposition to the enterprise." Attractive sectors he cited include aftermarket supply chain solutions; collaborative network applications; digital content management, as well specific verticals such as energy. Robert Schwartz, principal at Thomas Weisel Partners, a merchant banking company in Boston, advised companies to consider capital raising a business process. Schwartz recommends that companies trying to raise private equity expect longer due diligence cycles, be forthright about company strengths and weaknesses, show live customers, line up references and plan on taking months to raise money. "Fix your business model, and don't expect investors to take the adoption risk," Schwartz said. "Have a strong team, have a leadership position and take the money."

Even with the softening economy expected in the first two quarters of 2001, most conference speakers agreed that e-business spending is necessary and will likely continue. Marc Andreessen, chairman and co-founder of Loudcloud, thinks the 2001 economy presents a good opportunity for e-business development because there is "lots of venture capital, access to talent and the pressure to go public is gone. Pricing is rationalized--you don't have to compete with cash-bleeding dot coms. Capital markets are now more stable. The old-economy complacency makes now a good time to jump in."

Friscia thinks the time is ripe for e-business initiatives also. "High ROI investments will be accelerated even in a down-turn economy. The rate of transactions on the Internet says the winners have to play now." --Danna Voth


PEOPLE & PROMOTIONS


David M. Smith, former chief marketing officer at Prefer Network, has been named to the newly created position of vice president of business and strategic development of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). Smith will oversee the DMA's B2B development, including reviewing and enhancing the DMA's relationship with B2B direct marketers and developing new member benefits and activities for B2B companies. Prior to joining Prefer, Smith served as vice president of new member acquisition for Time Warner's Columbia House division. He also served as vice president of marketing at Cendant's welcome wagon division, and held a variety of positions at Bertlesmann.

MC Direct, a direct response marketing agency, has named Charlie Price vice president of operations. Price recently served as president of Nimbus Water Systems. In his new role, Price will oversee MC Direct's East and West Coast processing facilities, that will send more than 200 million pieces of mail through the U.S. Postal Service this year. Additionally, Price will oversee the agency's system's development department.

Go Figure Technology, a provider of e-commerce and sell-side services with integration into the company's backend systems, has named Jack Bobbitt senior vice president of sales and marketing. In his new position, Bobbitt, will head Go Figure's sales force and guide the strategic direction of its promotional initiatives. Prior to joining Go Figure, Bobbitt co-founded and operated as president of KnowledgeLab Network Systems, a client server consulting and integration firm. Previously, Bobbitt held several sales management titles at CompuCom during his 10-year reign with the company.

APPower!, provider of relationship management technologies that creates Web-enabling application spaces, has hired R.J. Van stetsen as the new president. Van stetson will oversee corporate development and the expansion of the company's strategic alliances. Prior to APPower!, Van stetsen served as vice president of marketing and dedicated sales for a telecommunications broadband data startup, He also has held key positions with NextLink, Phoenix, Metromedia and U.S. Sprint.

Barbara Preisz has joined Nykamp Consulting Group as vice president of sales. Preisz will be responsible for establishing and developing new business, partnerships and alliances. She will be based in the firm's Boston office. Before joining Nykamp, Preisz held the position of director of national sales for the Financial Services Organization of Harte-Hanks Communications where she launched a nationwide start-up division for marketing database products.

SatMetrix Systems (formerly CustomerCast), a provider of customer experience management software, has named Thomas V. Aliotti vice president of worldwide sales. He will lead the SatMetrix System's sales group, including telemarketing and telesales. Prior to SatMetrix, Aliotti served as vice president of Rubric's worldwide sales and services. Previously, he worked at Cambridge Technology Partners, where he was responsible for North American sales and the firm's Western region's Enterprise Resource Planning practice. Before that, he spent five years at Oracle, managing West Coast sales efforts.


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS


Onyx has acquired sales and marketing firm RevenueLab, based in stamford, Conn. RevenueLab's services and account base will allow Onyx partners to offer solutions with RevenueLab's sales process expertise. Onyx expects that RevenueLab's enterprise-level revenue acceleration programs and access to top executives will further accelerate its penetration into the large enterprise CRM market. Onyx also plans to speed its penetration into blue-chip accounts by leveraging RevenueLab's existing relationships and account access.

PLUS Corporation of America, a manufacturer of lightweight digital projectors, has acquired Lightware, a provider of projectors used for computer and video presentations, along with its assets and trademarks. All Lightware management staff will remain in their current positions and both companies will continue to maintain independent brands, as well as sales and marketing channels. According to PLUS President Tom Oishi, Lightware products complements PLUS' product development and marketing strategy that focuses on providing superior performance to mobile communications professionals.

Reef, an Internet software company that offers an open software foundation for e-business, has entered into an agreement to acquire privately-held Edapta. Edapta is a San Diego-based provider of Internet-based solutions that adapt content and user interfaces across multiple platforms, including computers, wireless devices and information appliances. Reef will acquire Edapta's product line, intellectual property and core team of software engineers. Edapta co-founder, president and chief technology officer Jack Berkowitz will become Reef's vice president of customer management. The acquisition supports Reef's vision for ubiquitous Web-based computing by providing users of Reef's Internetware suite of e-business applications with online user experiences.

Wireless Matrix, a developer of wireless data and fax services to corporate markets, has signed a business combination agreement to acquire all the issued and outstanding securities of Norcom Networks, of Reston, Va. Wireless Matrix expects to see value-added services, such as a plan to double its current revenue forecast for its next fiscal year; immediate generation of additional revenue in targeted vertical and geographical markets; improved service to end users; accelerated pace of innovation and faster time to market; movement toward a seamless global platform; and development of a communications network infrastructures of preferred wireless technologies. The transaction is scheduled to close February 28 2002.


CRM UPDATE


FoodMarketExchange has launched its B2B e-marketplace of international food products for import buyers, FoodMarketExchange.com. The site offers auctions, exchanges and current news and market information. The company has signed 50 suppliers of foodstuffs, such as Thai Union and TIPCO. Registered users of the site can purchase products from auction or through a fixed-price format. The site is both an open and closed trading platform, depending on user preference. The exchange enables trading between multiple buyers and sellers for one-time or standing orders.

Efinity, a provider of supply Web information management solutions for manufacturers and their trading partners, has opened a new office in Walnut Creek, Calif. Located near San Francisco, the new sales office will serve as a local center for Efinity's sales team and support staff in Northern California. Efinity is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, Calif. The new address is 1875 Olympic Blvd., ste. 202, Walnut Creek, CA 94596; (800) 201-1870.

DataFlux, a developer of data quality and integration software, has announced that its Blue Fusion Verify software has been CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certified by the U.S. Postal Service. This ensures that companies using data quality software programs can correct, match and verify addresses to Postal Service standards. CASS certification provides corrected and verified corporate databases. Blue Fusion is a licensable technology that enables organizations to embed data quality methodology, data redundancy prevention, data augmentation and searching and matching capabilities into commercial applications.

Vignette, a supplier of e-business applications, has opened a Reston, Va. Office to help the company better serve federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the Army Air Force Exchange, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense. Vignette is headquartered in Austin, Texas. The new address is 12120 Sunset Hills Road, Reston, VA 20190; (703) 435-7177.

Online e-business career center, Wanted Technologies, has partnered with SINA.com, an Internet media company for Chinese communities, to become one of the first job metasearch engines to provide outreach to jobseekers within the Chinese-American community. Visitors of wantedtechnologies.com can search more than 270 job sites. SINA.com offers its users a Chinese language network of four localized Web sites that are produced daily in China.


PARTNERSHIPS & ALLIANCES


Astute, a provider of customer interaction, Internet and telephony solutions, has partnered with Avaya, the recent Lucent spin-off. Astute will integrate its flagship product, PowerCenter with Avaya's CRM management solution, CRM Central. Under the alliance, Astute will add the multichannel communications and workflow management capabilities of CRM Central to its eCRM solutions. CRM Central provides the ability to support multichannel customer interactions, case management and integration of enterprise applications. PowerCenter is used in Global 1000 contact centers. With the integration, PowerCenter will enable its users to offer differentiated service based on individual customers' needs.

Latham Synchronized Relationship Marketing, a direct marketing services provider, has partnered with e-marketing solutions provider, iLux, to make Latham's Synchronicit-e technology available through an ASP. Under the terms of the agreement, Latham will offer key components of the Synchronicit-e Suite of marketing applications as a Web hosted marketing ASP service supplied by iLux. The company will also provide its customers with IT infrastructure support services on a subscription basis. iLux will provide Latham with its Campaign Manager 2000 application for campaign planning, testing, execution, management and evaluation. By offering components of Synchronicit-e as a Web-based application, subscribers may see increased functionality and quicker access to Latham's services.

Ockham Technologies, a provider of sales management automation, has partnered with Nextera Enterprises, a CRM consulting firm. The partnership will offer customers a new solution to sales management by integrating Nextera's CRM strategies and process design with Ockham's Web native tools for improved decision capability. Nextera's knowledge of sale-force effectiveness will carry over through Ockham's applications for sales management. The Ockham tools offer increased functionality for Nextera. The partnership provides both companies' clients with new sales strategies supported by a sales management application.

Perfect, a provider of an automated sourcing platform to Fortune 1000 enterprise exchanges and Net markets, has aligned with Entrust Technologies, a provider of solutions that secure e-business. The alliance will bring Web-based encryption, authentication and certificate management capabilities to customers across the PerfectMarket strategic sourcing platform. Perfect is a system that enables buyers to specify weighted tradeoffs and suppliers to automatically respond with custom offers.

Broadbase Software, a provider of customer interaction software, and KPMG Consulting, an e-business consultancy, formalized their relationship to offer clients end-to-end eCRM solutions. KPMG is using Broadbase Software as a core component of intelligent customer interaction strategies implemented in organizations. Projects underway include Broadbase implementations at Cisco and Hewlett-Packard. These organizations will have access to Broadbase's integrated eCRM application, featuring integration, analysis and interaction across marketing, sales and service domains.

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